It’s easy to get caught up in all the fear and anxiety surrounding us during times of crisis. But keeping employee wellbeing a priority, whether your employees are remote or on the front lines, is important to helping employees stay healthy, productive, and well during challenging times. Here are some tips for employees and leaders alike:
With all of the madness surrounding us, sometimes it’s hard to see the silver lining or the good in the not-so-good situations. Now is the perfect time to take a step back, take a breath, and practice gratitude. One of our favorite quotes from researcher Brené Brown is, “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I’m paying attention and practicing gratitude.” Being well goes way beyond just the physical aspect of wellbeing; it starts in the mind. Practicing gratitude can be a great daily exercise to help ground your anxieties and fears. Take a few minutes to think of things you are grateful for. Make it a family activity. Do it solo. Share it with your loved ones (if that’s something you’re comfortable with). We all have many reasons to be grateful. What are yours?
Working from home can mean working in our beds, with TVs on, and spending the whole day in pajamas. Sounds pretty relaxing, right? Not so fast! The distractions of working from home in conjunction with the isolation can cause employees to lose focus and possibly damage their work productivity. However, it’s very possible to be just as, if not more, productive in your home office. A recent Harvard Business Review article suggests that people who work their same office schedule from home get more done per day. Here are some helpful tips to keep it business as “usual” during this not-so-usual time.
• Choose a dedicated workspace
• Keep your same morning routine - take a shower, put on normal clothes, have a cup of coffee
• Get started early
• Structure your day like you would in the office
• Still have those meetings - Zoom is your friend
• Set clear boundaries and communicate expectations with anyone who will be home with you. Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you are “home”.
• Take breaks. Whether it be for lunch, stretching, or just to clear your mind. Take the same breaks you would take as if you were in the office.
• Stay connected. Don’t neglect to check-in regularly with colleagues and managers. It’s important to make yourself visible.
Unfortunately, not every single person is able to work from home. About 1/3 of American workers cannot work remotely. We all need to do our best, follow the recommendations of the CDC, help flatten the curve, and diligently practice social distancing. We are all in this together and no one person is more important than the other.
There is a lot of fear and uncertainty with COVID-19. This fear of the unknown leads to us feeling scared and creates panic. When we don’t have control over something, our emotions start to trigger stress and then the stress takes on a life of its own. Many of us get stuck in this relentless cycle and it can be exhausting – emotionally and physically. This pandemic is an evolving situation that we are dealing with together and it’s changing incessantly. How can we proceed and continue with our normal lives without causing chaos or allowing this virus to spread psychologically in our minds?
Here are some effective coping techniques. Remember, thoughts produce emotions. Focus on what you can control.
Effective coping techniques:
• Eating healthy
• Washing your hands
• Sanitising your cell phone
• Getting adequate sleep
• Staying connected with the right people (avoid those who are “doom and gloom”)
• Self-monitoring and taking your psychological pulse
• How much is this impacting my overall life?
• What’s within my power to change?
Ineffective coping techniques:
• Destructive thinking
• Overexposure to media (including social media)
• Assuming anyone that coughs or sneezes “has it”
• Social withdrawal (while practicing social distancing you can still, call, text, FaceTime, Skype, etc.)
• Poor self-care
• Unhealthy eating
It’s easy to go down a rabbit hole of conspiracy theories and misinformation with the internet and social media at our fingertips. Limit your resources to just a few trusted websites such as your local health department, the WHO (World Health Organisation), and the CDC (Center for Disease Control) for real, up-to-date information. And companies should provide employees with accurate, relevant information as it relates to their safety at work.
Just like adults, children might feel confused, scared, or worried about the virus. Be sure to validate their feelings—don’t dismiss or ignore them. Here is what you can do:
• Talk to your child about what specifically worries them and follow their lead in conversation. Be an active listener and really hear what they are saying.
• Be honest yet comforting. Do your best to fill them in with correct information and debunk the myths. If you don’t know the answer, simply say so. Be sympathetic and understanding. You are all in this together, no matter what age you are.
• Keep an emphasis on prevention. Talk about handwashing technique and why it’s important. Talk about what social distancing means and how it’s important to flatten the curve. We all have to do our part, both adults and kids.
• Let your kids know it’s okay to feel the emotions they’re feeling. Everyone has them! Recognising these feelings, talking about them, and knowing that stressful moments will eventually pass can help your child build resilience.
• Keep it “business as usual” for the kids, too. Playtime, meals, activities – whatever it may be. Just like how some of us work from home. Keep life as “normal” as possible.
Experiencing stress and anxiety during a pandemic is totally normal. We are experiencing a normal reaction to an abnormal event. It’s okay not to be okay. If you’re worrying a lot, write down those worries - examine them. Ask yourself am I worrying about things in my control? For those worries that are out of your control, what can you do to get the control back? Is my fear and anxiety in proportion with what’s really going on?
• Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique. Inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds, exhale for eight seconds. This exercise is a natural tranquiliser for the nervous system and a great technique for when anything upsetting happens.
• If you experience an anxiety or panic attack, here is what you can do. Try to 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. This technique gets you to use your senses and helps bring you back to the present moment. Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Out loud, name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and 1 thing you can taste. Ideally you should feel calmer and more at ease by the end of the exercise. Feel free to repeat, if needed.
As our company founder, Obert Tanner, said, “Perhaps the clearest and deepest meaning of brotherhood is the ability to imagine yourself in the other person’s position, and then treat that person as if you were him or her. This form of brotherhood takes a lot of imagination, a great deal of sympathy and a tremendous amount of understanding.”
We are in this together. Let’s empathise, be understanding, practice gratitude, and do our part to help ourselves, and others, stay healthy and well.
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