‘Unprecedented’ is the norm with COVID 19. We are facing new challenges every day. As we adapt and find a solution to one problem, another arises! In such a scenario, it is imperative that we take care of our mental health and overall wellbeing.
Globally , governments and businesses switched to the work-from-home (WFH) model to ensure the safety of their employees. In addition, for the first time in human history, people are working largely from their homes. For most, it is their first experience of working virtually, away from their colleagues, friends, and maybe even family. Given the uncertainties and rapid disruptions in our lives, it is only natural for one to feel anxious, stressed, and lost.
In 2006, a team of economists led by Prof. Nicolas Bloom published a paper titled ‘Does Work From Home Work’, wherein they researched a Chinese travel agency, Ctrip. A random group of 1,000 employees were selected to voluntarily shift to a WFH model for nine months.
Initially, the experiment proved advantageous for both employees and the employers. The company benefited from reduced operational costs and enhanced productivity, while the employees reported increased satisfaction, and were found to be happier.
However, when the WFH model was implemented for the entire organisation, net productivity and revenue increased incredibly, but employees across the board faced a common problem—anxiety and loneliness.
As a society, we have not always given importance to mental health and have often sidelined the same. However, understanding the isolated and remote nature of work-from-home culture at present, it is essential that we recognise its importance in our everyday lives. Mentally fit individuals can easily work at their maximum potential, be it personal or professional areas, and cope with all the transformations that life has to offer.
This article will guide you through some easy tips for you to stay mentally fit while working from home. But first, let us identify some common signs that could indicate deterioration of your mental fitness:
- Feeling lethargic and unenergetic throughout the day
- Sudden problems in your sleep cycle
- Unpleasant thoughts or mood swings for a long period
- Inability to focus on any task
These are only a few common signs and since mental health is an immensely layered issue, different people could have different responses.
Without further ado, let us get started on some easy-to-follow tips for mental fitness:
1. Talk and Express your Feelings
Expressing your feelings to your loved ones is a powerful way to feel relieved. Rather than feeling cooped up and troubled through the day, a simple conversation can help maintain your mental health. Many of us feel shy and even ashamed to share our feelings; however it is nothing to be embarrassed about. On the contrary, expressing means you are taking charge of your emotional and mental well-being. Thus, ensuring you and people around you stay healthy.
2. Find the Right Company
Often, even when we want to share our feelings, we are not able to find a confidante. It is important that you identify someone whom you are comfortable with. It could be somebody from your family, friends, or even colleagues. In case you are not comfortable with anyone in your immediate circle, do not hesitate to get professional help. A friendly face around the corner is always welcome. This is an extremely crucial point, since most of us are under partial or complete lockdown and the people around us could very well define our mental state.
3. Maintain a Routine
An empty mind is a devil’s workshop. And if you keep the workshop running for five months of lockdown, it could create havoc! Hence, it is imperative you create a daily routine and stick to it. In case your office work requires you to log a certain number of hours, try to finish your duration within the same time window every day. This will automatically help you find and maintain a routine while helping you segregate your work and personal hours.
You may also try to create a physical distinction between work and play, i.e., you may set up a separate workstation or change your clothes at the end of a workday. These simple steps subconsciously prepare you for the next phase of your day. Hence, a healthy routine helps you get a sense of achievement and reinforces a positive mindset.
4. Incorporate Physical Activity
Physical activity, be it exercising, dancing, or gardening, is a wonderful way to remain healthy and keep your mind occupied. It is very easy for a negative or troubled thought to enter a lethargic mind. Moreover, physical activities release chemicals called endorphins, which in turn trigger a positive feeling in the body and mind.
5. Eat Healthy Food (Regularly)
This seems like a frivolous point but has long-lasting impacts. Food loaded with fat and sugar definitely gives us instant pleasure but can cause physical and mental illness. Online food ordering services and the plethora of options have only made unhealthy food more accessible. Young professionals (living alone or with roommates) often do not have a fixed time to eat and this is another contributing factor to poor health.
6. Unwind and Take a Break
You may meditate or watch a movie, listen to music, or read a novel. Pick an activity that helps you relax and be with yourself. After a day of hard work, enjoy the little treats and prepare for the next day. A balanced lifestyle ensures that you are not stressed or burnt-out. A tired mind can easily fall for troubled thoughts. Therefore, it is important that you take out time, just to pamper yourself. After all, there is no better cure to mental illness than self-love.
7. Help others Around You
There is no better joy than giving and sharing. There might be others around you who could be facing similar problems. Help them overcome their fear by offering honest support. The act of caring and for others, is in itself highly rewarding. It fills us with hope, positivity, and happiness. Volunteering for community service can also help you gain self-confidence while broadening your horizon.
8. Avoid Alcohol and other Depressants
While we are constrained within our homes, over consumption of alcohol and other depressants can lead to long-term psychological effects. One can get easily lost in their own thoughts and lose a grip from reality.
9. Avoid Sensational News on TV, the Internet or WhatsApp
Thanks to our handheld devices, we are constantly bombarded with news, most of which is not verified and is merely clickbait. However, such sensational news pieces, especially during a pandemic, can lead to chaos, frustration, hypertension, anger and, in worst cases, self-doubt or hatred. Since popular media houses of the country would not take responsibility to broadcast quality information, it is upon us to save ourselves from the noise outside and keep calm.
Mental health is of prime importance and we as a society need to understand its relevance. While working from home, we should try to look out for each other and if you are a manager or business owner try to connect with your teammates. A simple conversation can go a long way to help someone in need.
Whenever in doubt or feeling troubled, try to break the self-doubt cycle and attempt to bring in positive enforcement. However, it is important to note that nothing can replace professional help, therefore, if you are not feeling your best for quite some time now, consult your doctor without further ado.
In this article, we have tried to collate some easy-to-implement tips for remaining mentally fit through the lockdown. Hope this helps you and your loved ones.
Vanita Arora is a tech enthusiast with specialization in digital marketing. She is currently working at Servetel a leading company provides cloud telephony services in India. Reading novels, travelling, researching new online marketing trends are some of her interest areas that keeps her rejuvenated.