How to reduce stress whilst working from home during COVID-19

How to reduce stress whilst working from home during COVID-19

  • Posted by wellness

Here’s wellness for Life’s top 5 tips on how you can keep on top of things whilst working from home during COVID-19.

Stacey a procurement manager working for a large firm is about to jump on a very important zoom chat with one of her leading suppliers. The call is to  deal she has been working on for over 10 months and on the meeting the CEO of the supplier along with FD were all present. Half way through the call Stacey’s two year old son bursts in to the room screaming for her attention, this distracts Stacey from her meeting which subsequently leads her to lose her chain of thought and come across unprofessional in front of her clients.

Does this sound familiar?

In March this year much of the world’s workforce was forced to work from home under lockdown restrictions to avoid catching or spreading COVID-19. As a result, millions of people were thrown in to working from unfamiliar conditions at home with children and their partners having to manage home schooling, keeping their children entertained and managing a busy work schedule. As a result, there is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world has accelerated mental health problems for employees all over the world.

According to Human Resource Executive, almost two thirds of employees are reporting that this time has been the most stressful time of their careers, even more so than events such as 9/11 and the 2008 global financial crisis.

That’s why we have put together Wellness for Life’s top 5 practical tips to keep on top of things and boost your emotional intelligence during these times of uncertainty and adversity:

  1. Try and Stick to a Routine– Ok so it may not be the same routine you had before, and you may need to make some sacrifices, but many of the people we have spoken to found it useful to replicate the same routine than they would have had they been working at their regular place of work. Things like getting dressed for work as they would usually, maybe even take a short walk before they begin working at their desk. The key to setting a successful routine is trying to keep organised. Yes you will have distractions and yes there may be some home schooling to do, but if you plan ahead and communicate well with whoever else you live with, you may find this leads to being more productive.
  2. Dedicate time to yourself – One of the most critical challenges for all of those working from home currently is the feeling that work never stops. People are waking up using their laptop, feeding their children, then back to the laptop, home schooling then back to the laptop and constantly flipping in between children and work until they finally fall asleep at their workstation before waking up and starting the exact same routine again. At times like this our own personal wellness and well-being suffers. This is why it’s important to dedicate time to yourself. It could be as simple as setting a time to do exercise each day or perhaps just doing 10 minutes of something you really enjoy doing. Research has shown that just a little bit of exercise each day can contribute to a more enjoyable and productive day. One thing we at Wellness for Life have always been keen advocates of has been meditation or breathing exercises. Keeping yourself well and strong will mean the challenges of working from home seem that little bit easier to deal with
  3. Always look for Positives –When suddenly thrown in to change or a break for the norm sometimes our natural tendency is to always procrastinate and resist any change. Our perception on change can often determine how well our bodies can cope. Our own research has shown that attitude towards what is going on around us can make the difference between just surviving the pandemic or thriving in the face of it. Let us take a few recent examples. When I interviewed two members of senior management from a large oil and gas firm the responses to my questions varied considerably. When asked about the thought of having to work from home with kids, with partners who also had busy jobs and under physical restriction of being able to leave your house, the two responses I received were markedly different. On the one hand Manager A seemed disheartened, was extremely worried that he had various targets to meet in the coming few months and may not be able to do so having to work from home. The idea of having such a busy schedule and having to be a house dad was daunting. On the other hand, Manager B gave a very different response. Whilst he also had a very busy work schedule with the end of the UK financial year fast approaching, how he viewed the challenges from the pandemic seemed more positive. For this manager, the idea of getting to spend more time with his children rather than not seeing them each day was an exciting prospect. He understood that whilst there will be challenges involved, that this was also an opportunity for him to get to spend more time with his wife and kids something that would not have come about had the pandemic not come. On a recent catch up call with both managers, whilst both managed to hit their work targets eventually, manager A did so with difficulty but manager B did so enjoyably. This may not be the case with everyone but our mindset and view of challenges can make a massive difference to our ability in being able to cope and thrive during challenging times. Try looking for the positive in everything, yes these times are difficult but being able to latch on to the positives could make a big difference to your productivity levels
  4. Communicate Effectively – Being away from the office can mean you are less exposed to chats by the coffee machine with colleagues, at times we can underestimate those little chats by the coffee machine before and after a meeting. Communication is important but is even more important when working from home. Like at work, at home it’s equally important to communicate and manage the expectations of those that you live with. Its important to keep up the communication with colleagues over chat, or even give them a call it can also help alleviate feelings of isolation and loneliness. Try and keep the same habits you would do if you were in the office. If you manage your own team then it’s equally as important to communicate with your staff and make sure they are ok. Let them know what’s going on at all stages, what direction the business is going in and communicate the change as early as possible. Similarly at home it’s important to keep up the communication particularly if you have a partner who also has to juggle a heavy work schedule. It could be a good idea to create a childcare rota when your partner and you know exactly when you will be looking after children or distracted from regular work. Similarly with the children, let them know when you will be working and when you would prefer not to be disturbed.
  5. Give yourself Credit – Let’s face it, the likelihood is not many of us would have been in this situation before and unlikely to find themselves in it again.We are currently experiencing unprecedented times and many of us will be dealing with issues we have never dealt with before. It’s only natural that things will get to us or that we will have setbacks along the way. It’s important to give yourself credit and self-praise for doing a good job and reward yourself accordingly for managing to cope in these different times. It’s Easy to get caught up in negative self talk and being hard on ourselves for not being as productive as we would have liked. In our experience, negative self talk really can make things worse so something we always advise our clients to do is to switch the negative self talk in to positive. This can take a bit of practice. What we need to do is try and find 10-15 minutes of your day to give yourself credit for all the good things you achieved that day.

There’s no doubt that these are testing times, how we manage this period will be key to our performance and productivity levels. Just making it through the last few months is an achievement in itself irrespective of how well we have managed to cope.