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Looking After Your Mental Health Working from Home: Our Top Tips For Covid-19

Nico Chan

COVID got you stressed, anxious and uncertain about the future? 

The first thing you should do is STOP watching the news and get on the low information diet.

The second thing you should do is read this blog post for our top tips on looking after your mental health during this corona pandemic. 

Jump straight to the section what you want to see.

  1. General health and wellbeing
  2. Working from home
  3. Returning to the office (what we are doing at HHQ)

 

Eating, sleeping and exercising

Looking after your mental health means looking after your physical health. Remember to eat healthy foods and watch your nutrition throughout the day. If you don’t already do this it is definitely worth something looking into. Here are some 27 generic nutrition tips. Make sure you are also getting enough sleep – how much you need depends on you, but 8 hours a night is the general recommendation. You may also find having a regular sleep schedule is beneficial, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Finally, get your body moving! No matter how busy you are, you will never regret doing exercise. Pretty standard stuff here but easy to let slip in our busy lives. Make health a priority. 

Maintain human connection

Humans are social creatures. We need human connection. COVID has definitely made social interaction more difficult with all the restrictions and physical distancing measures. It has also affected the collective psyche with many people now fearing physical touch or closeness. Don’t let this get you down, you can still maintain your social connections via video chats, phone calls, and even meeting up with your friends. Going for walks outside with your friends is probably one of the best activities you can do right now and it’s legal (although remember to maintain social distancing).

video call with friend

Stay busy

Doing some kind of activity will always make you feel better than not doing it, even if you’re feeling lazy or tired. With all this time at home, it’s a good idea to pick up a new hobby or start exercising. Idle time leads to boredom, overthinking and anxiety. Try to stay busy to avoid these moods. Here is some inspiration for things you can do during lockdown.

Remember to breathe

This is your guru speaking. Stop what you’re doing and take one deep breath. Hey, now doesn’t that feel good? Everything in life happens so fast these days, sometimes it’s good to slow down. Take a break, relax, you deserve it. Namaste. 

Meditation apps have become very popular lately and rightly so, they’re really good. Headspace, Calm and Insight Timer a few of the more popular ones. Headspace is my personal favourite. I started with the free trial and continue using it to this day.

Don’t be afraid to reach out

If you are struggling with your mental health, it’s okay to ask for help. In fact, if you’re struggling with anything you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Most of the time it’s not about whether someone can actually help you, just having someone to hold the space while you discuss your feelings or what’s going on in your mind is nice. And, even if you feel like you don’t have anyone, there are numerous organisations and phone lines to call. Here are two of the best in Australia. 

Lifeline

Beyond Blue

 

Create a specific workspace (outside the bedroom)

Your bedroom is a place for rest, relaxation and maybe some sexy time if you are living with a partner. It is a good idea to keep work outside the bedroom, as bringing work into your personal sanctuary can be a grave mistake. Physically separating these spaces will allow you to separate these spaces in your mind and will make it easier to switch off from work. 

Stick to normal workday routines

When working from home, it is important to draw the line between work time and personal time. Sticking to your normal work schedule can help you delineate the time spent working and time that should be spent doing other things. Something as simple as changing out of your pyjamas and into a normal outfit can change your mental state and prime your subconscious for a productive day at work. 

Maintain a healthy work-life balance

Following on from the same theme, it is important that you are getting stimulation from all aspects of life, not just work. Spend time on your health and relationships. Make time for things you enjoy doing. Granted, this has become a little harder with the COVID restrictions, but if you don’t have a good balance in life it will start to take a toll on your mental health. 

family time mother and daughter

Get outside

Sun, fresh air, nature. If you don’t love these things, you might be a psychopath. Just kidding, but it’s not healthy to be hunched over a computer all day staring at the screen. Take a break, get up and go for a walk. You will feel much better. I pinky promise. Here are 11 reasons you should go outside.

Try a digital detox

How much screen time do you get per day? Say you work on your computer all day from 9-5, that’s already 8 hours a day, not including any time spent on your phone in the morning and evening before and after work. I don’t know about you but that seems like a lot to me. Stepping away from technology can help you spend more quality time with your friends, family and yourself. It can also help you get better sleep and have a clearer mind, especially if you try waiting an hour before checking your phone in the morning and putting your phone away an hour before bed. This gives your mind time to calm down and relax naturally before drifting off. 

 

Regular check-ins

It’s always good to check in on your friends. A simple and genuine, ‘how are you doing today?’ can really make someone feel better, or at least make it be known that someone actually cares about their wellbeing. We do a mental health check during our morning meetings in case anyone wants to share something. It is important we build a safe space where we trust each other and feel comfortable sharing. We also have a group chat with all the members in our coworking space where we can be more casual, posting memes, having funny discussions and a bit of banter. This is also a good way to connect with your people in this virtual age we live in.   

Make safety procedures visible for peace of mind

Even if we did a deep clean of the office every single night, it wouldn’t be enough. Why? Because people want to feel safe. We do a thorough cleanse twice during the day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. People can see our cleaning team don the gloves, holster the disinfectant and get to work, making it visible all the safety precautions we are taking. This gives people peace of mind and makes them more comfortable knowing they are being looked after. We also have signs throughout the office reminding our inhabitants to observe social distancing rules and to sanitise their hands regularly. Here is the full list of things we are doing to make the office COVID safe.

disinfecting cleaning

Team activities to boost morale

While we are being careful about social distancing, you only have to walk through the office to see the place is alive with activity. Collaboration and laughter still happens, just from across 1.5m apart. We still have our tradition of Friday drinks, no more cheersing but the banter and community feel is still enjoyed. Like most other spaces, our live events have moved online, however, we are still organising smaller gatherings and activities for our members, such as a lunchtime walking tour around historical Chinatown where our office is located.

Have someone enforcing the rules

We run a friendly but tight ship here at HHQ. No use having these rules if no one follows them right? Don’t let our office manager Lauren catch you sitting too close to your neighbour, or breaking the maximum room capacity, or entering the office without completing your temperature and oxygen check. You’ll get a swift cane to the backside, China style. 

 

Conclusion

As far as we know it, COVID is here to stay. We should continue to be careful but not afraid. We need to learn how to live and adapt to these unprecedented circumstances in order to thrive at work once again. Taking care of your mental health is the first step. Hopefully these tips will be helpful to you. Take care.

 

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