This week, and certainly in the coming weeks, most companies have required employees to work from home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Professionals are now working solely from their personal space – sometimes also occupied by children, flat-mates, and spouses who all have their own work and school matters to deal with. 

Fear right now is rampant due to the unknown foreseeable future that COVID-19 has brought upon us. For a lot of us, settling down to focus on work is hard. While the immediate health benefits of avoiding common workspaces are obvious in the face of a frightening pandemic, it is important to consider the mental health consequences that can come with working remotely. 

In our latest webinar we were joined by Sharnade George, a former mental health therapist and the founder of Culture Minds Network – an online series centered around mental health. Below, we have recapped some very important insight, tips and tricks on taking care of your mental health while working from home that we were able to discuss with Sharnade. Grab a cuppa and have a read. 

Question: Is there a good way to structure your day to avoid falling into states of depression, loneliness etc?

Answer: Try to run your day as if you were going into the office as usual. Wake up at a reasonable time, shower, get dressed and continue on as it was any normal work-day. If you stick with some sort of schedule, your mind will allow you to focus. 

It’s also hugely important to avoid working from bed or lounging on the sofa for prolonged periods — this can lead to a lethargic state of mind. Make sure you’re taking frequent breaks and switching positions when you’re faced with a mind-blank. 

Question: Can you recommend any physical activities or exercises that promote a positive state of mind?

Answer: 

-Walks, even if it’s simply around your house, will allow for a clear headspace. 

-Yoga sessions are a great way to restart your body as a whole. There are various different YouTube videos centered around yoga for all different body types. 

-Bodyweight exercises such as standing squats, lunges, press-ups, holding stretches and more are hugely effective and can be done almost anywhere. 

-Dancing is a great way to let off some steam. Plug in your favorite tunes and ‘dance it out’. 

Question: Can you recommend any mental thought processes or mental activities that help keep you in a positive state of mind?

Answer: Meditation is great for the mind, body and soul. It teaches us to be present in the moment, breath after breath. The mind is a hugely powerful entity and if we keep a healthy mental state, positivity will follow. When you’re feeling down or struggling with whatever it is you’re working on, take a moment to remind yourself that you are strong, you are healthy and you are enough. 

Write a gratitude list on a daily basis. For example, write down ten things you are thankful for on that particular day. In turn, this forces your mind to focus on the positives, rather than the negatives. On the same piece of paper, keep a daily journal of your thoughts and feelings. Jot down how you are feeling as the days pass. 

Question: Could you comment on breathing? Techniques and types of breathing that can help keep those feelings away?

Answer: Apps, such as Calm and Headspace, are great tools recommended for healthy meditation and breathing. Practice healthy breathing every morning. Breathe in for the count of five, followed by breathing out for the count of five and repeat this several times. 

Question: What are the signs that you are moving toward a state of loneliness or depression?

Answer: A mental health continuum will allow you to track your behaviour and understand where you are with your mental health, whether it’s just a phase, or whether you need help. It’s important to try to pick up on new trends within your own body. For example, if you’ve noticed you’ve been sleeping much more than usual, this can be a sign of something bigger, such as depression.

Question: Virtual events and hangouts are popping up everywhere. Can you recommend any hotlines or places people can go to chat to someone? 

Answer: It’s important to note that if you feel there is an issue or you have a problem to call your doctor. However, in the current times we are in, that can prove to be difficult. IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) is a place you can go to find qualified mental health nurses on the NHS to talk to. 

Question: How do I deal with or talk to my child about what’s currently going on in the world?

Answer: It’s important to be honest with your children. Sit down and talk to them about what’s going on in the world and explain to them that we are all in this together. Don’t shy away from a curious child wondering why he/she can’t see friends or grandparents. 

In terms of their normal day-to-day activities, try to replicate their school day as best as you can. While you’re working, make sure your child is also working and/or doing activities as well. Keeping some sort of structure is important to avoid getting off track.