Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

In this uncertain time, relentless changes to guidance and advice is becoming the new norm and adjusting to new information and change is essential for everyone in any professional or personal context. To reduce risks and the spread of corona virus, remote working, reduced contact and social isolating are all being encouraged: more and more organisations are providing opportunities for their employees to access work from home.  Yet, in times of change and uncertainty, this can be a catalyst for worry, anxiety and mental ill health. How can organisations support the transition to home working and provide effective mental health support for their staff at the same time?

Recommendations for Employers

It is essential that an organisation-wide policy is put in place and that it is understood by employers that supporting mental health is an important element of this.  A consistent approach is required, with some flexibility and personalisation in such a fluid situation. Remote working can be highly daunting if there is a lack of structure and reduced contact with others so giving advice about how to manage time, productivity and connections with their time is really important.

First of all, practical considerations should include the physical space that someone will be working from. The physical environment should be suitable in terms of a workstation that gives them a comfortable position and area to work in. Ideally, this would be in a room that can be shut away outside of work hours to aid a clear distinction between work and non-work time. It should be well-ventilated and ideally with access to natural light. Access to work systems will need to be provided remotely and access to the internet will also need to be considered.

Often, remote workers can find there is a difficulty in being able to separate work and home when both happen in the same place. This is in both a physical sense, such as in a room where the door can be shut when work is not taking place, but also in the sense that they need to clearly distinguish between work hours and down-time so they are not contactable outside of that time. Encouraging a clear routine can help to solve this problem – suggesting appropriate times for work activities to take place, including breaks and lunch, can help remote workers to detach from work when needed.

Similarly, there needs to be an understanding by both the employee and employer about how work rate is going to examined – what will be monitored and measured – hours, output or both? Although a space with no distractions is important, during a work day where the employee would have been in an office setting, they would not work solidly for eight hours. There may be breaks, communications with work colleagues, time to think and consider activities: these will still need to take place and should be factored into the expectations of the manager for work output/hours so that they do not become merely task-focused.

It is important to remember that a home worker is a lone worker and this can bring with it a sense of isolation that can increase the risk of mental ill health. Managers should aim to communicate regularly with their employees, in both team and individual contexts. In times like this, providing information and keeping people in the loop can help to quell anxiety and fear. Even if there is nothing to say, don’t say nothing at all because this can heighten worry and increase the use of rumours and speculation to fill in the gaps.

The opportunity to communicate with others should be encouraged. Where possible, different modes to achieve this should be considered, such as programmes to allow group video meetings or chats should be utilised to encourage employees to foster social and professional connections to communicate with each other, just as in a work setting to maintain a sense of belonging. These ‘Virtual Water Coolers’ give colleagues the chance to share difficulties and achievements, continuing the opportunity to bond, support and work as a team.

Similarly, individual phone calls and video calls between managers and employees are vital to give the opportunity to check how the individual is coping and given the manager a greater sense of any additional supports that might need to be put in place. Being able to share their anxieties or struggles can help to alleviate worries, which can help people to feel better able to cope with their situations.

Inspiring good mental health practices is essential for every person within the organisation. As well as communication with others from the business, links with family and friends will be vital for individuals as well as having time to complete activities to bring some normality to their lives. Encouraging activities such as reading, listening to podcasts and exercising (either safely at a distance outside or within the house) can all contribute to better mental health.

Overall, the most important factor to consider is for channels of communication to be maintained and encouraged, especially during such as uncertain time. Although these circumstances are unprecedented, your health and wellbeing is still, as always, a priority.

As a company, our vision is to simply see people flourishing in the workplace (whether home or office-based) and our mission is to help clients to support and develop good psychological health in their teams. That is because we believe flourishing people create thriving organisations. 

We do this by providing specialist training and services to support mental health, resilience and wellbeing in the workplace and online.

Whether you are looking for face-to-face training, online learning or a blend of the two, we can tailor training on topics such as resilience, mental health and other developmental areas, perfectly suited to your organisation and team. 

Resilient People       

www.resilientpeople.co.uk                 [email protected]

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Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

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Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

How to Look After Your Mental Health During Self-Isolation and Reduced Social Contact

Understandably, it is a time of concern and unease for everyone. The seemingly relentless changes to guidance and advice mean that adjustments are happening quickly and often raising more questions than they answer. Alterations to the way we live and work are underway and this might mean that you are now working from home or self-isolating in response to symptoms or government information. Finding yourself out of typical routine can be daunting so putting tools in place to smooth this transition can reduce anxiety.

Structure your Set Up

It is important that you feel equipped and resourced to complete your work at home and this can only happen if you are properly prepared. Talk to your employer about any policies that your organisation have relating to home working and identify any tools or access you will need to be able to complete your role effectively away from the office. Try to anticipate any issues you might face and consider how you would overcome these away from your workplace – this needs to include trouble-shooting for your work, but also for circumstances such as being away from others and what you will do if you feel you are struggling.

Keep Connected

Although many of us will find ourselves in isolation or in reduced social situations, that doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate in other ways. Phoning people, talking over video messages or sending messages can help to reduce seclusion and loneliness. Agree regular check in times; make sure that you have up-to-date contact information for any key people,; and use different modes of communication to keep in touch – try video messaging, group phone calls or Facebook groups so that you have a wealth of support and interaction. These should be for both work and personal connections to make sure that you have a range of support available to you. For example, you could set up virtual coffee breaks so that people can catch up remotely and stay connected.

Disconnect

Where possible, limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to news that could cause you anxiety or distress.  Choose a specific time to check and stay informed by only using reputable news outlets, such as government and NHS websites – understanding the risks can help to make the situation less stressful. Where possible, avoid speaking to people who increase your worries and anxieties, and be honest with others about limiting information if this is something that will help you to feel calmer and less anxious. Social media platforms, such as Facebook, can be a good line of communication, but false news or speculation can do more harm than good so consider how you use these during this time.

Keep your Routine

This could prove quite tricky in some circumstances, but it’s really important that you continue healthy habits, such as exercise, a good balanced diet and keeping hydrated. You should try to stick to typical routines, such as when you go to bed and when you get up on a morning. Typical activities such as showering, having breakfast and getting dressed can help to bring some normality to the start of your day and help you to make the distinction from work to home effectively. Similarly, having a plan for your days, whether it is for remote working or during your personal time is important – consider scheduling your days to get a healthy balance of work and rest.

For work, make sure you factor in:

  • Opportunities for fresh air, even if its sitting by a window or heading into your garden for 15 minutes
  • Regular rest and toilet breaks, especially to keep up good hygiene for washing hands
  • Time to communicate and check in with your manager and work colleagues
  • Considering your own personal developments and progression – is there any additional research, activities or courses you could be completing?

For your personal time, make sure you include activities such as:

  • Reading
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Baking or batch cooking
  • Exercising – running up and down stairs, dancing to the radio and chair exercises can all be used to keep up energy and fitness levels. Don’t forget you can also go outside to exercise in your garden or other public space, as long as you keep the recommended distance from others.
  • Watching a series or film
  • Tidying and organising 

It is important that you keep talking to people around you and making your mental health a priority. Although these circumstances are unprecedented, your health and wellbeing is still, as always, a priority.

As a company, our vision is to simply see people flourishing in the workplace (whether home or office-based) and our mission is to help clients to support and develop good psychological health in their teams. That is because we believe flourishing people create thriving organisations. 

We do this by providing specialist training and services to support mental health, resilience and wellbeing in the workplace and online.

Whether you are looking for face-to-face training, online learning or a blend of the two, we can tailor training on topics such as resilience, mental health and other developmental areas, perfectly suited to your organisation and team. 

Resilient People      

www.resilientpeople.co.uk                 [email protected]

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A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

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When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

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Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Top Tips For Supporting Someone on Your Team with Mental Ill Health

Did you know that mental health problems affect one in four people? When people experience a mental health condition, they may feel isolated, ashamed and worthless. They may feel that they have no one to talk to and no one to turn to. Mental health is something that we all have and, just like physical fitness, it can be good or poor. So why is it such a taboo to talk about it?

Mental health conditions are something that can affect anyone at any time. Being able to talk to people about mental health can make a significant different.

Top Tips To Support Others in the Workplace

It can be daunting when someone is returning to work after an absence because of mental ill health. They might feel unsure of how people will treat them or they may be nervous about returning to work. As their colleague, you can play a part in welcoming them back.

1.    Check in
Keep a kind eye on them and see how they are doing throughout the day. Just a friendly ‘hello’ at lunch time or a ‘how are you getting on?’ during the day can give them the opportunity to ask for help if they need it or reassure them that they aren’t alone.

2.    Listen and don’t judge
They might want to talk about how they are feeling or they might share their experience with you. That’s ok and letting them talk can be all the outlet they need. Active non-judgemental listening is really important so give them time to speak without jumping in, stop what you are doing so they know they have your full attention and ask questions to prompt them if needed.

3.    Treat them in the same way
Coming back to work might be a way for them to experience some normality so being the same friendly colleague is just what they need. There is no need to be wary or fearful of someone because of their mental ill health. They are still the same person.

4.    Ask twice
It’s easy to just reply ‘I’m fine, thanks’ when we are asked how we are and often people will automatically say this even if they aren’t feeling 100%. Asking twice can give the person the opportunity to be honest about how they feeling.

5.    Don’t forget little gestures can have a big impact.
Making them a cup of tea; carrying something for them; asking them to join you for lunch; these small actions can make such a big difference to someone who might be feeling a little vulnerable and overwhelmed. Don’t underestimate the difference you can make to someone by including them and showing that you’ve thought of them.

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

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A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

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When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

Wanting a happier outlook?

It’s easy to focus on all the negatives in life, in fact it’s what we are programmed to do. It’s part of our drive for self-preservation. It helps us to identify and avoid situations that maybe undesirable or dangerous. The problem however is that constantly focusing on things we perceive to be negative eventually leads to a pretty miserable existence.

One of my favourite exercises for creating a more positive outlook and happier disposition is using a gratitude list. It’s simple, takes little time and can really change how you view the world around you in a matter of weeks.

To start you just need to set aside 5-10 minutes each day. This can be whilst you are driving to work, standing in a queue, cooking a meal or any other time you can have 5 minutes of uninterrupted thought. For me it’s whilst walking my dog. During this time consider all the things you are grateful for in your life. I tend to group things to make it easier. I start at a high level i.e. being alive and being born a country where all my basic needs (food, water, shelter, healthcare and social security etc.) are all met with little effort on my part. If I’d been born in one of the world’s many slums then these needs would either be a daily struggle or distant dream.

My list then moves closer to home. I consider my personal health, abilities and general attributes before moving on to my family and friends; all the many ways they support me and bring joy into my life. And lastly I appreciate all the material things I have in my life. This last bit is important because although material possessions don’t usually bring long-term happiness, by regularly appreciating what you have you curtail the desire to have more. You will start to enjoy the things you already have and fret less about the things you don’t.

There are many ways of appreciating the things on your list and this is something personal to your own beliefs i.e. thanking god. For me, I just think the words ‘I really appreciate …’ before saying the thing I’m grateful for. With a bit of practice you’ll be amazed how long your list becomes and in 3-4 weeks (perhaps less) you’ll be surprised how much more happier and content you feel.

Enjoy …

Barrie

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A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

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When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

The 3 minute re-frame

How you feel at any given time depends largely on what you are thinking about at that moment. Dwelling on a negative experience will cause you to relive the moment over and over again. Similarly, thinking of positive experiences will lift your mood. The 3 minute reframe is about putting you in the right frame of mind for the task ahead. Here is an example of a typical situation for many of us:

You arrive home after a bad day at work, but before entering the house you sit in the car for a moment contemplating the possible chaos unfolding inside. Your partner and kids arguing about petty things with no consideration for the hellish day you’ve endured. You imagine the expectation on you to sort everything out. You become even more frustrated, resentful and even feel helpless.

There are plenty of other circumstances where we find ourselves feeling like this. It’s not just those of us with children.

The first thing to recognise is that the situation is not frustrating/upsetting you – it is actually you upsetting you. By allowing yourself to imagine a negative set of circumstances (in reality everybody in your house might be sat quietly on the sofa watching television) you create, or further, a negative frame of mind. As the deeper mind struggles to differentiate between reality and imagination your body suffers the same adverse reaction either way. You eventually walk in the house and regardless of what is happening you act in a bad mood towards everybody there. The chances are you’ll have a bad evening and wake up the next day feeling rubbish and primed for yet another bad day. And so it goes on …

Alternatively you could try a 3 minute re-frame. It’s simple and very effective.

In the circumstances above you would sit in the car for about 3 minutes before going inside, but instead of imagining a negative set of circumstances you would ask yourself: ‘what would the best dad/mum in the world look like?’ I often imagine myself going through the door and going down to my knees as my young daughters come running and screaming “Daddy!” We have cuddles and they excitedly tell me about their day and I enthusiastically listen and ask them to tell me more. I continue these positive thoughts thinking about my wife and then imagine a fun filled evening ahead.

After 3 minutes of playing out this scenario in your head you will have reframed your mind and emotional state. You can’t feel two opposite emotions at the same time so the negative stuff gets pushed aside. You get excited about the night ahead and spending time with your family and naturally play out the circumstances you imagined when you walk through the door.

This technique can be applied to most situations where you feel overwhelmed, frustrated or scared. Just consider: what would the best (whatever role you are in at the time, including work) in the world look like in this situation? You’ll be amazed how the world can appear to change in only 3 minutes!

Barrie

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

30.03.2020

A Dose of Calm: A Note from our Director

When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

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When the unexpected happens ………. How to maintain positive Mental Health during challenging times

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working

30.03.2020

Remote Reassurance: Caring for your Employees’ Mental Wellbeing During Self-isolation and Remote Working