Working from Home During COVID 19 Outbreak

Unfortunately, many of us are having to work from home currently. For many that was a sudden occurrence and one that is unusual and made worse by being isolated from family and friends.

Many will have been unprepared both psychologically and ergonomically for these sudden imposed changes. No strategies in place to cope with isolation and no formal home workstation set up.

Below are a few tips to aid you

Maintaining your Mental Health in Isolation

For most people the need for human contact is a basic instinct. Therefore, when you are forced to be alone, it can have a negative impact on well being and psychological health.

1.    Keep in contact with people via varying media

  • Speak with friends and relatives on the telephone
  • Have a video conference with work colleagues, rather than just send an email
  • Make contact via Zoom or Skype accounts
  • Use Facebook / Instagram
  • Have Whatsapp / Messenger account
  • Send a letter or a card

2.    Keep a sense of normality- have time frames for tasks and Keep things in a new normal

  • Set a time for going to bed and getting up
  • Set times to eat and exercise

3.    Maintain your own self care

  • Think about what exercise you can do to keep fit, a walk or cycle if you can go out, or cleaning your home, dancing to music, going up and down stairs, exercise videos. Do not suit for more than an hour without getting up and moving
  • Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical wellbeing. It can improve your mood, reduce feelings of stress or anger, and make you feel more relaxed. It is possible to get the positive effects of nature while staying indoors at home. You could try the following: open windows and doors, sit near windows and doors. Walk/sit in your garden. Sit on your balcony. Have some flowers delivered by home delivery? Look at pictures of nature on phone, TV, Computer
  • Find ways to relax and be creative, maybe arts and crafts, such as drawing, painting, collage, sewing, craft kits or upcycling. DIY, colouring, playing a musical instrument or learning one, or listening to music, writing stories, yoga, mindfulness.
  • Keep your brain occupied and challenged. Set aside time in your routine for this. Read books, magazines and articles. Listen to podcasts, watch films and do puzzles. Do an online course Learn something new.
  • Find ways to fill your time try having a clear out. You could sort through your possessions and put them away tidily or have a spring clean. You could also have a digital clear out. Delete any old files and apps you don't use, upgrade your software, update all your passwords or clear out your inboxes. Write letters or emails or make phone calls with people you've been meaning to catch up with. Redesign your garden. Design your idea home
  • Eat Healthily and keep hydrated. Simply put, there are no foods or supplements that can ‘boost’ our immune system and prevent or treat COVID-19. Nevertheless, eating a well-balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant and animal proteins and healthy fats is the best way to get all the essential nutrients we need for good health and normal immune function. As self-isolation may lead us to be less active, it is also important to pay close attention to food portions and to keep our energy balance adjusted to meet our needs.
  • Keeping hydrated is essential for overall health. How much water we need depends on our age, sex, weight, height, level of physical activity and environmental conditions (i.e. hot weather will likely require you to drink more water). Taking into account that around 20-30% of the water we need comes from our food, the European Food Safety Authority has set average recommendations for how much water we should drink per day depending on our age (see below).1If you have access to safe tap water, this is the healthiest and cheapest drink. For a refreshing boost, you can add slices of lemon, cucumber, mint or berries. Other drinks such as unsweetened decaffeinated coffee and tea or iced tea, or unsweetened, infused or flavoured (sparkling) water are also good choices for hydration.

4.    Reframe

If you can reframe your thoughts into being positive, that can help. If it’s possible try to think of this time as an opportunity to get something done. It might read a book, doing your ironing, drawing, catching up on something. Try to get into a positive mind frame. Remember this is for a set time period." t may be helpful to reframe the coronavirus outbreak by using a tactic called temporal distancing or focusing your attention on a longer timescale. For example, imagine how you might look back on these events in a year, or even a few years from now. “Those kinds of perspective-broadening tools can really relieve emotions,” he says. You can also try putting the outbreak in historical context. “We have experienced these kinds of things as a society before, we have gotten through them.” (But don’t immediately jump to comparisons with the Spanish flu.) Another step is to limit how much information you consume about the coronavirus outbreak. Try to find a balance between being informed enough to make decisions about your life, but not so overloaded with information that it becomes stressful.

5.    Allaying anxiety about Coronavirus

  • Keeping up to date with the News is important, but not obsessively Stay connected with current events but be careful where you get news and health information from. For up-to-date advice see the NHS coronavirus webpage and coronavirus webpages. If news stories make you feel anxious or confused, think about switching off or limiting what you look at for a while. Social media could help you stay in touch with people but might also make you feel anxious including if people are sharing news stories or posting about their worries. Consider taking a break or limiting how you use social media. You might decide to view groups or pages but not scroll through timelines or news feeds.
  • Hand washing anxiety Mental health problems can cause difficult feelings or behaviours to do with washing or hygiene. If you experience this, you might find it hard to hear advice about washing your hands. If this is making you feel stressed or anxious, here are some things you could try: Don’t keep re-reading the same advice if this is unhelpful for you. Let other people know you're struggling. For example, you could ask them not to remind you to wash your hands. Breathing exercises for Stress can help you feel more in control. Advice from Mind: Relaxation Tips - Mind The Charity also have some exercises you can try, and other relaxation tips. Set limits, like washing your hands for the recommended 20 seconds. Plan something to do after washing your hands. This could help distract you and change your focus. It could also help to read some of the tips in our information on Self Care for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
  • If you are feeling anxious  or if  you have panic attacks or flashbacks, it might help to plan a 'safe space' in your home that you'll go to. You can also find ways to comfort yourself if you're feeling anxious. For example, there are games and puzzles you can use to distract yourself, and breathing exercises which may help. The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) has more Coronavirus Anxiety: How to Cope.
  • If you are feeling Claustrophobic open the windows to let in fresh air. Or you could spend time sitting on your doorstep, or in the garden if you have one. Try looking at the sky out of the window or from your doorstep. This can help to give you a sense of space. Regularly change the rooms you spend time in.


This article was written by Karen Shea MSc RN OHN - Occupational Health Director - SheaOH

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