For many of us, our working lives have changed dramatically as a result of lockdown and coronavirus.
COVID-19 has meant a lot of us are now working from home, either alone or surrounded by families – a totally different atmosphere to what we’re used to.
At this time, regardless of your situation, taking care of your mental wellbeing is absolutely crucial. To help you get through lockdown, we’ve outlined some ways you can stay mentally healthy while working from home, including some things that help us get through each day.
Firstly, it’s important to mention that if you need help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. There are lots of resources and support out there, and if you don’t know who to contact, don’t be afraid to speak to anyone (friend’s, family, or even an old work contact) and ask them to help you find the support you need.
Finances and mental health
One of the most common and talked about causes of anxiety at this time involves finances. Poor mental health can make managing money harder, and worrying about money can make mental health worse.
While this won’t add pounds to your bank account, it’s essential to take time to look after your physical and mental wellbeing. Exercise and relaxation have been proven to improve mental health. Addressing these core human needs will help you manage any challenges you may face.
Top tip: If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed with everything, write a list of everything that’s on your mind, then put this aside and go for a 20-minute walk. You’ll come back with a clearer perspective and a renewed sense of priorities.
Mind.org has some great tips on money and mental health if you need some more support or advice.
If money is a concern, the government has made some unprecedented moves to support businesses during this pandemic, including:
- Claiming furloughed staff wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme
- The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for small businesses
- The deferral of VAT payments
- Claiming back Statutory Sick Pay paid to employees due to coronavirus
- The coronavirus Future Fund
- The coronavirus Bounce Back Loan
- The Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme
- COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility
For the self-employed, this can be an especially uncertain time. And again, the government has created support:
- Deferral of Self-Assessment payments due to coronavirus
- Self-employment Income Support Scheme (due to start mid-May, 2020)
- Changing in how Universal Credit is calculated, basing it on actual earning instead of assumed earnings
Manage your daily routine
If you’re not careful, every day in lockdown can appear to merge into one. External forces may also be causing disruption to your normal routine. It’s important to create a positive new routine and set achievable goals.
If you’re working from home, try and keep the same hours you would normally and stick to a structured schedule. Step away from your computer for lunch and pack up at the end of the day.
Top tip: If you have a separate office, try moving all none work-related equipment from the room and make it a dedicated workspace you can shut the door on at the end of the day. If you’re working from your kitchen, living room or bedroom, try packing up at the end of the day and return the room to a place of home normality.
At the end of your working day, make sure you escape work. Working from home can mean you never really switch off. Dedicating some time to a hobby or just to relax is really important to maintaining good mental health.
Video calls have now become the ‘norm’ and it can make you wonder how many past meetings could have been avoided?
Social interaction can really help boost your mood, and while video calls can’t replace physical human interaction, it’s the next best thing, so make sure you maintain regular contact with your work colleagues, family and friends.
Top tip: Make sure you schedule non-work-related time on your video calls too. Ask how people are doing and listen to any personal difficulties they may be having. Not everyone is prepared for this new way of working and you may be able to share some of your own tips or wisdom – or learn something yourself.
All that being said, try not to replace your usual level of social interaction with a Zoom replacement – it’s not the same. Video calls are helping us stay connected, but a recent study by the BBC (The reason Zoom calls drain your energy) shows that video calls can be more tiring than face-to-face communication, so make sure you put measures in place to avoid video call fatigue.
Support each other
If you are an employer, with staff working from home, be sure to support your employees. Each person will be faced with their own unique challenges, be those financial, family or personal. We no longer share the communal workspaces and allowances should be made for new, varied working environments.
If you’ve been asked to work from home, it’s important to talk to your employer about your individual situation. This is an unprecedented time and many businesses are unprepared for their staff to work from home. It’s unlikely you will be able to maintain productivity levels, therefore it’s important you quickly identify challenges and support each other in overcoming them.
If there is anything we can do to help you manage your current financial situation, please call us on 0121 550 8525. We’ll be happy to talk you through some options based on your individual needs.
Please note that during this time, we are experiencing a high number of enquires. We are responding to everyone; however, it may take longer than normal. We appreciate your patience.