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

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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.

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

Weather The Storm

Living in such an uncertain time can have a great impact on your life and of those around you. As well as experiencing anxiety and low mood, symptoms you might also experience include physical effects such as pain, appetite change and sleep problems. The global situation isn’t just a storm in a teacup so how can you look after yourself come rain or shine? Read our tips to help you weather the storm:

Don’t Forget Your Umbrella!

There are some things you just can’t change: if it rains, there is nothing you can do. But you can make a difference to how you cope. You can take an umbrella out with you. You can button up your rain coat. You can pull on your wellies. You don’t have to face the stormy weather without waterproofs, just like you don’t have to cope with this situation without support. This might be in the form of talking to a friend or family member; a peer support group; or advice from organisations available to support you with your wellbeing and mental health. Building your support network in what ever combination works for you as an individual can give you the shelter you need from the storm and make a vital difference.

Shower Yourself with Self-Care

If you can feel a gathering storm, take refuge in looking after yourself. Completing an activity you enjoy, catching up on sleep or just shutting the curtains and having a PJ day can be just what you need to brighten your day.  Being able to spot your own signs and symptoms can help to put self-care in place in the early stages. Self-care should be part of your routine: even the sunshine has a little rest day now and then so taking time out for yourself can play a part in improving the forecast and your mood. Sometimes you need to take a rain check and focus on yourself.

Throw Caution to the Wind

Changing your routine or trying something new can be a benefit to your mind and body. Learning a new skill, achieving a challenge or re-engaging with an existing hobby can improve self-esteem, increase wellbeing and give access to new learning and friends too! Any activity that promotes the release of endorphins or ‘happy hormones’ can be a real benefit to your mental health because it stimulates your mind and body as well as encouraging mental development and growth.

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

It can be easy to fall into a pattern of thinking that is quite negative. Instead of asking yourself ‘Why does it always rain on me?’, try to think more positively about the circumstances you are in. Although coping with the new and difficult situation we face can be challenging, research shows that gratitude is powerfully and reliably linked with greater happiness. Thinking about the things that you are grateful for nurtures positive emotions, helps you to recognise good experiences and supports in fostering strong relationships with those around you.

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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

Let’s Put the ‘Men’ in ‘Mental Health’

One in four people experience a mental health condition every year, yet talking about mental health carries a greater stigma than talking about health issues. The facts speak for themselves: 1 in 8 men suffer from a common mental health condition. Suicide is the biggest killer in men under 45. In the UK, men are three times as likely to take their own lives than women and it has consistently accounted for approximately three-quarters of all suicides in the UK since the mid-90s.


Seeking or accepting help for a mental health condition can be a real challenge. Admitting that they need help can seem like a sign of weakness to some men and this can mean that they feel unable to ask for help. This is perpetuated by sexist phrases, such as ‘Man up’ or being told to ‘Be a man’. Phrases like this suggest that showing emotions such as sadness or sharing their feelings is unacceptable for men. There is a false stereotype of a ‘real man’ where the characteristics isolate and force them to hide their true emotions. Unfortunately, it is this concealment that can lead to serious mental health problems and in the worst case scenario, suicide.

Instead of seeking support, often they turn to unhealthy ways to cope with their mental health, such as through substance abuse, anger and violence or self-medication through alcohol or drugs. This is why men are twice as likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. Worryingly, alcohol can exacerbate depression and can increase impulsive behaviours, making it a risk factor for suicide.

Other risk factors include workplace pressure and the responsibility that some men may feel for their families and their ability to protect them by being the ‘breadwinner’ of the family. In addition, it can be that men may find themselves isolated because of their circumstances and unable to reach out. The director of a company; a retired, widowed man; a young apprentice: all of these people can share the same sense of loneliness and isolation, regardless of their background, class, experience or financial status. Someone who is experiencing depression or other mental health conditions may be at risk of suicide, but this is not always the case.

Suicide has a devastating ripple effect on family, friends and communities who may struggle to understand why someone has decided to take their own life. They may not have been aware of the suffering that the person who has completed suicide may have been in and this can make it incredibly hard to come to terms with.

Suicide is distressing, but it can be prevented by knowing the warning signs and being proactive in supporting with someone why may be presenting these. Some of the signs to look out for are:

  • Expressing the intent to hurt or kill themselves
  • Writing or talking about death
  • Hopelessness
  • Showing feelings of rage or anger
  • Acting in a reckless way without consideration of the consequences
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Isolating themselves from friends, family or society.
  • Trouble in sleeping
  • Saying goodbye or ‘putting affairs in order’
  • Significant changes in mood

This list is not exhaustive and someone who completes suicide may not present any of these signs at all. If someone you know or care about is presenting some or all of these signs, make sure that you talk to them directly about how they might be feeling. You could suggest visiting the GP with them to support them. If you think there is an immediate danger to the person, phone 999 and do not leave them unattended. If you yourself recognise these signs in yourself or want to access help for a mental health condition, read below for some advice about where to find advice and support.

HOW CAN YOU ASK FOR SUPPORT WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Ignore the old adages to ‘man up’ or to ‘grow a pair’. The strongest thing a man can do is seek help if they are struggling with their mental health. This can sometimes feel like a great obstacle. It is common to feel unsure of who to ask and what reaction will be received. It’s ok to ask for help even if you are not sure if you are experiencing a specific mental health condition. See below for some sources of support that you could access:

YOUR GP

Your GP can help identify support that is appropriate to your needs. They might refer you to other services, such as talking therapies; they might prescribe medication; or they might give you advice and information to help you.

A Family Member or Close Friend

Because they know you so well, it is likely that they will have already spotted that you might not be coping as well. Talking to someone who already knows you can relieve some of the worries about judgement. They might be able to support you with errands or responsibilities to take some of the pressure off you in the short term.

Trained Therapist

You might be referred by your doctor or in some cases, you can contact therapists directly. Therapists are trained to discuss and explore individual issues in a confidential environment. For some people, this feels less threatening than discussing their emotions with someone close to them.

Peer Support

Some communities have peer support groups for like-minded people or people who are experiencing the same condition. They meet regularly and this can be a source of additional information as well as a place to find out strategies to help you cope.

Workplace Support

Some workplaces have EAP (Employee Assistance Programmes) or support groups where you can access information support and help in a completely confidential setting.

We have a range of services to support mental health and wellbeing in your organisation. Please get in touch for more information: [email protected] or 01977 210220

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

30.03.2020

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

Don’t let stress ruin your relationship

Here is a scenario common in many relationships; both partners work in stressful jobs and then come home to the pressure of being a parent and running a home. This situation can often lead to arguments, intolerable frustration and, finally, splitting up. So what are the main pitfalls to avoid if you want to keep your relationship healthy?

Well, it was reported in the Telegraph this week that a study conducted by the Florida State University College of Business concluded, after interviewing 400 working couples, that the main thing to avoid is competing with each other about who had the worst day. This makes sense. It’s something we have all done at some time, become frustrated by the self-pity of another and retorted by explaining how bad things can really get … outlining a day in your life!

Of course, most of us would struggle to remember a time when this ever ended happily. Instead it just leads to more arguments, more frustration and more chance of splitting up. If you have children, it’s also very upsetting for them, not to mention unfair.

It is important to offer support to each other, to know when the other has had a particularly bad day and forgo your own need for a bit of sympathy. In fact, you will more than likely get a lot more support back when you need it the most if you’re prepared to give it to others. If you are going to survive the rigours of work life then you must have a place where you look forward to going, a place where you will get support when you most need it, and a place where you can enjoy your time away from work. This place should be your home.

The study also concluded that couples with the highest levels of support at home were more satisfied with their marriage, were more likely to say that they have a good relationship with their colleagues and concentrated better at work. They were also less likely to say they were tired after work, feel guilty about neglecting their family and were less critical of their spouse and children.

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

30.03.2020

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