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Mental Health Awareness When Working From Home

22 May 2020

Mairead McConnell

As Mental Health Awareness Week 2020 draws to a close, we look at how you can recognise and reduce the signs of mental stress in yourself and your colleagues when working from home.

Due to the current pandemic, the world the we once knew has changed dramatically.  You may feel like your world has been turned up-side-down and that’s ok.  You are not alone in those thoughts or feelings.  For some, the pressure of juggling working from home with home schooling and generally being a parent is causing anxiety and stress.  For others, on Furlough or who have been made redundant, days roll into one, routine is lost, there is a sense of not knowing how to pass the day.  There has been an increase in sleepless nights and overall an increase in stress and anxiety.  Worse still, there are those who are being told to stay at home and unfortunately, home is just not a safe place to be.

So how do we be productive and remain calm when there are so many new pressures imposing on us that we have never had to deal with before?  Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers and for many, there are no quick fixes.  However, I have spent a lot of time this week speaking to a number of my clients and candidates and I have gained from them some great insights into their experiences so far, while also trying to take lesson from my own ups and downs.  From many conversations, I have pulled together some coping mechanisms that I hope you find useful.

  1. Be Kind -Always

    During this pandemic there have been acts of kindness shown across our communities and within our own circle of friends, families and from our employers.  However, it’s equally important to be kind to yourself.  Take each day as it comes.  If you are lacking in motivation, get some exercise in, take a long soak in the bath, call a colleague or a personal friend for a quick chat or take a ten-minute time out to focus on something else.  This should leave you feeling revived and more focused when you get back to your desk.  Yoga is a great way to de-stress and revive the mind.

  2. Do Not Compare Yourself To Others

    There will always be over achievers in life who seem to shine no matter what situation arises.  Remember, they have their own battles too.  They might just be very good at hiding it.  For others, you might be coming across as that very person.  Do not compare your current situation to others on social media or even on your work conference calls.  Do as much as you can do each day and be happy with your own achievements for the week.  Even if that is as small as getting through your unread emails.  Every little counts.  If work is getting on top of you, speak to a manager or someone in authority that can help you draw up an achievable action plan.  Small achievements every day add up to big ones by the end of the month.

  3. Give Compliments

    This seems very basic, but it is also very true.  When you make someone else feel good about themselves you will automatically feel good too.  Look at the achievements of some of your colleagues, praise them and encourage them.  They will return the good feeling and everyone on the team will thrive.  Try not to get bogged down in the negatives, “this didn’t work out as we’d hoped”, “I couldn’t get that done”, “someone else would have done it better”.  This is a difficult time for anything to work out exactly as planned, do not beat yourself up.  Instead, remember the good things you and your team have managed to achieve so far and remember, better days lie ahead.

  4. Speak To Someone

    In most of the conversations I have had, a lot of my clients have said that because they are not working alongside their staff, they feel they don’t have a true grasp on how they are actually truly feeling or coping.  Employers have a duty of care and this doesn’t disappear just because you are working from home.  If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to admit it.  Ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid to admit when you are having a down day.  Opening up to colleagues is a great way to talk out worries and stresses.  Many candidates have found that when they have spoken to their colleagues (either colleagues on furlough or colleagues still working) many of them share the same worries and concerns and just talking through problems has given them ideas on how to get through. 

  5. Refrain From Over-Thinking

    Over analysing every e-mail you send or decision you make adds extra pressure and stress to your day.  If you have not heard back from someone, do not assume they are avoiding you.  Remember, people are generally preoccupied at the moment.  Managers and other colleagues are being pulled in many different directions.  Now that you are working alone it is easier to notice a message that has not been responded to yet as your colleagues are not there to distract you as they used to.  Try to avoid clicking “send and receive” fifty times before moving on with your day.  Have the same self-confidence in your working ability as you have always had.  Your environment may have changed but you have not! Get busy with other tasks and before you know it you will get the response you’ve been waiting on.

If you need any further advice or information on working from home, managing a team remotely, market information or assistance with finding and/or filling a job, please get in touch with Mairead McConnell on 028 90 325 325 or email [email protected]