7 tips to maintain mental health during lockdown

7 tips to maintain mental health during lockdown

Author: Rosemary Lemon, Group Head of Reward, Hays

Lockdown can affect us all in different ways, with each person’s experience unique to them. For instance, some people have bigger houses with gardens, while others are in flats with no outside space. Some people live by themselves and will be facing isolation on their own, whereas others will have young children or elderly relatives that they need to equally dedicate their time to. However, no matter your situation, working remotely for a long period of time has the potential to negatively impact your mental health and we must take all the possible steps to protect it.

While we are beginning to see restrictions being gradually lifted in some countries, the reality is that some form of social distancing will likely be in place for some time. This also means that employees might not be returning to the office for a while and they will be required to work from home for longer.

The idea of lockdown continuing for a long period of time is hard. I’m sure the majority of us are finding isolation from friends and family extremely difficult. This period has certainly helped me to realise what I have perhaps taken for granted in the past, and that is one of the things that I will be taking away from this experience.

I have put together seven thoughts I have had about maintaining good mental health and wellbeing during lockdown, which I have taken from my own experience:

1. Don’t be too hard on yourself and share your worries with others

I think overall, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself for feeling down. Acknowledge your emotions but remind yourself that the lockdown measures will eventually come to an end. It’s important that you maintain connections and talk to someone, whether that is a friend, family member or colleague – everyone around the world is in the same situation. You are not alone, and it helps to share experiences and worries. We are all trying to cope the best we can, so it’s important that we are open with those closest to us and that we share our concerns, because we are all in this together.

2. Try as far as possible to separate home and work life

During lockdown, our living and working spaces have become one and the same; this means that maintaining a good work-life balance can be difficult, especially for those in smaller living spaces or sharing with multiple people or if you have young children. While it might seem particularly hard to do in this situation, it is important to try and switch off work at the end of the day and transition to home life. Unless you have a separate space for work where you can close the door on it at the end of the day, try to pack up the laptop and clear the table of papers so you are not looking at them all evening; you need to avoid being tempted into going and checking emails when you should be having down time. It is important to ensure you still have your own time to spend time with family, call friends or just have a quiet time where your focus is not on work.

3. Spend some time by yourself

Everybody needs time to themselves from time to time, especially when we’re cooped up together 24/7. During lockdown it is much harder than usual to find personal space and take five minutes for yourself. While it might seem obvious, try sitting quietly in a separate room and tell the people you live with that you just need a little time and space on your own, as everyone does now and then. Just having a few minutes for you, especially if you are looking after children, may bring a moment of much needed calm and give you the opportunity to recharge your batteries.

4. Don’t lose contact and make the most of technology

It is easy for the world to contract when we’re not out and about or making plans. This is when technology comes into its own. We are able to use a multitude of video conferencing apps, chat and text and connect with and see family and friends, whether they are overseas or down the road. The world has been made much smaller thanks to technology. For people living on their own, this is vital. So, make the time to speak and connect with people, put it in the diary and make it a regular occurrence. At first it may feel odd, but it does get easier. In addition, during a time where our diaries have been emptied of leisure activities and social events, it is good to have some virtual interaction to look forward to.

5. Rest your eyes

We’re all using technology more than ever before and while it is essential for working and keeping in contact with people, it’s equally important to have a rest from it. We are working from laptops and phones where the screens are small, so make sure you look up every now and then and rest your eyes by looking at something in the distance. Try not to look at your phone late at night before sleeping. Stand outside for a moment or open the window and get fresh air.

6. Get up and exercise when you can

When people are working from home, there is less reason to move about. Making it worse is the fact that most people are also not sitting at a desk with a proper office chair, one designed to help posture. Dining chairs are made to sit and eat a meal from for an hour, not to sit on all day. Therefore, make sure you get up and stretch your legs and walk about regularly. Try exercises specifically designed for the home, it can change your frame of mind and help relax your muscles.

7. Take the best into the next era of work

If you’re suffering from fatigue, going a bit “stir-crazy” and find yourself longing for your old life, think about some of the positives that we can take away from our experience. We will have a greater appreciation of even the smaller things, such as being able to walk into a shop and buy food when we want, or the joy of meeting friends and family members again, travelling around our parks and towns, seeing new sights and the bigger things such as going on holiday or experiencing other countries. Our freedom is precious, and I know I will value it even more as soon as we have it back.

It’s important to remember that everybody’s circumstances are different, and everyone deals with challenges such as these in different ways; no two people are the same and it’s important to recognise that. We’re all human and we all experience a range of emotions. Let us remember that when we interact with one another. There have been some fantastic examples of people supporting each other during lockdown but equally we have sadly seen an increase in mental health issues, financial stress and domestic discord. It is vital that we are sensitive, kind and empathetic with each other.

For any person who feels they are struggling and need help, please do contact a professional support service or medical professional. They are there to help.

 

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