Being at home all day can be stressful, so it is important that we stay physically and emotionally well during this time. Here are ten things you can do to promote your overall wellbeing and mental health.
Switch off from the news and social media from time to time: While it is important to stay informed, the flurry of constant news is likely to increase your anxiety. Hearing about anything constantly can amplify how worrying it is to you.
Try to stay connected. At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact the Employee Assistance programme for support.
Maintaining a routine is crucial to your mental health.
Exercise helps, even if it’s a 15-minute exercise video or a short walk. The NHS has a range of free exercise videos to do at home.
Get plenty of sleep. Try techniques such as body scanning if you need help drifting off.
Dust off some of your long-forgotten hobbies such as playing a musical instrument, knitting, painting or baking as they are a great way to practice mindfulness and help to calm thoughts when we are being bombarded with so much negative news.
Practice gratitude - if you find your thoughts are negative spend time at the end of the day to celebrate what was good about the day – for example if you had a lovely message from a loved one, you had a great meal or solved a problem for a resident or colleague.
Help others check on an elderly neighbour, helping others helps our own wellbeing, you could put a note through their door with your number and offer help if they need it.
We’ve also produced a factsheet on personal resilience which you can share with family and friends.
Don’t lounge in your PJs
To help you to get into the mode of working from home, it is important to keep to your regular morning routine. You should get up, shower and have breakfast at your usual time. Don’t be tempted to lounge around all day in your PJs, save that for the weekend!
Stick to your working routine
Start work at the time you would in the office and try and keep to your normal work routine and hours (unless you need to alter these to fit in with childcare or other arrangements). Don’t forget to take your morning and afternoon tea breaks as well as your lunch break.
Sitting for long periods can have a detrimental effect on your health and wellbeing and it’s easy to sit for long periods of time when working from home.
If you can stand for a while as you are working, it is good for your back and posture. If you can’t stand and work, then stand up every 30 minutes to stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting. Stretching is vital for maintaining good posture, especially when working at a desk for several hours a day.
Drink plenty of water
Drinking water throughout the day is one of the easiest ways to manage body weight and reduce your food consumption. To ensure that you are consuming a sufficient amount of water, keep two bottles of water (1.5- 2 litres) handy! If you need to drink something warm, then try non-sugary herbal drinks or black coffee.
Exercise in your break
When you’re having a break from work (for example, whilst waiting for the kettle to boil), don’t be embarrassed to do some light exercises like calf raises, squats or lunges.
Lunch break activity
During your lunch break, try to avoid sitting down on the sofa and switching the TV on. Instead, do some household chores to keep active, do some exercise or try one of the many online workout sessions.
Watch your diet
Avoid snacking on crisps and biscuits during the day. Preparing a healthy lunch is a great way to control your consumption and saves you money.
Covid19 has had a big impact on our work and personal lives and we have all had to adapt to protect each other and our families and friends.
The council are aware that people's mental health wellbeing could be affected during this pandemic and wants to support employees who may be experiencing mental health difficulties.
Outside of the support that your line manager and occupational health can provide, we can also put you in touch with a team of fully qualified Mental Health First Aiders.
There are also lots of useful free apps and websites which can help maintain wellbeing and good mental health, including for relaxation, managing stress and anxiety and meditation – here’s a list.
Help, support and advice is also available from organisations such as:
Mind, the mental health charity, have created an extremely useful page of help and guidance, including their own tips on how to maintain good mental wellbeing if you or someone close to you needs to self-isolate.
Times of uncertainty can be particularly stressful for young people - Young Minds have created a blog to provide support and advice for young people and their carers:
Carers UK - It can be a particularly stressful time if you are a Carer. Carers UK provides support and advice for carers on coronavirus.
Mental Health Direct provide support and advice anytime of the day or night. The service can arrange for you to speak with a mental health professional and advise you about what service to contact to get the support you need. You can call 0300 555 1000; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Samaritans is dedicated to reducing feelings of isolation and are currently available for telephone conversations and support. Please note Samaritans is not accepting face to face callers at the present time. You can call Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on 116 123 or you can visit: https://www.samaritans.org/.
There is helpful guidance for managers who find themselves in a situation where an employee seems suicidal here.
As well as general wellbeing and mental health resources here are some specific resources for social care staff:
Support for CQC Registered Managers
Skills for Care have opened a new telephone advice line (0113 241 1260) and email address where CQC Registered Managers can get support, They have also produced a guide on supporting staff who regularly work alone.
Support for frontline social care staff
- Hospice UK have launched an Adult Social Care Bereavement and Trauma line for Health and Care staff. You can speak to a specialist counsellor at 0300 303 4434. They are available between 8am and 8pm to support you if you have experienced a bereavement, have witnessed traumatic deaths as part of your work or need to discuss any other anxiety or emotional issues you are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Seek help if you are struggling. You can send a message with FRONTLINE to 85258 to start a conversation with Shout’s messaging support service
- The Samaritans have introduced a confidential emotional support line for social care staff that is free to access from 7:00am-11:00pm, seven days a week. You can speak to a trained Samaritans volunteer who can help with confidential listening and signposting to specific support you might find helpful. Call 0300 131 7000.
With the additional stresses that a prolonged lockdown can bring and the lack of ‘me time’ or the chance to socialise, it’s very easy to turn to alcohol to relieve the boredom or fill the social void. Nationwide, alcohol sales have increased by 31%.
If you find yourself drinking more at home, it’s worth taking a few moments to think about the effects on your health or the messages it’s sending out to your children about the use of alcohol.
It might be worth keeping a daily journal to monitor your alcohol consumption – be honest and keep a log of how many and what type of alcohol drinks you have consumed and maybe the time of your first and last drink (this is best done the morning after!).
You may want to check the Government guidelines on alcohol consumption and if you are confused on how to measure units of alcohol, here’s a handy guide.
You can reduce your alcohol consumption by following these easy tips:
- have one day clear of alcohol, or better still 2 or 3 days of abstinence in a row.
- spread your drinking by having a non-alcoholic drink, or water in between glasses of drinking.
- having food whilst drinking will also help you drink less and slow the absorption rate of the alcohol.
- having low or non-alcoholic versions of your favourite alcoholic drink
- finish a glass of drink before refilling the glass, and not constant top-ups”. this way you can properly asses how much you have consumed.
If you would like to talk to someone about your alcohol consumption and the effect on your physical or mental health, home life or work life, speak you can contact these helplines.
It’s important that managers look out for the welling and mental health of their teams, as well as their own. Here’s some advice for managers:
Schedule regular catch up calls with individuals and the team just like you would if you were in the office, using Microsoft Teams.
Meet individual needs as well - some staff will need more contact than others.
- When managing remotely ensure your communications are clear and have been understood.
- Communicate even when there is nothing new to add.
Be flexible – where possible let staff dictate how and where they work.
Don’t assume your staff know how to use all the technology we have access to - check with them and talk them through how to use it.
- Use the chat element of Microsoft Teams to give a space to share a funny story and connect with each other!
Encourage your staff to take breaks and get some fresh air.
- Remember when under stress we often behave differently so please be mindful that this is coming from a place of fear and anxiety - answer people’s concerns and be compassionate at this worrying time.
As you will have seen in the media lots of community initiatives are being set up for people to help friends or neighbours or to support vulnerable people in local communities.
In Barking and Dagenham, we’ve teamed up the with local community and faith organisations in the borough to set up a new network called BD CAN – which stands for Barking & Dagenham Citizens Alliance Network.
To make sure no one is left unsupported, BD CAN is providing a key contact point for anyone in the borough who needs help or knows someone who does. It could be anything from help picking up medication or food shopping, to a friendly phone call if someone is self-isolating and is feeling cut off from the community.
All residents need to do is contact BD CAN and the person needing help will be put in touch with a trusted local voluntary organisation already working in the borough who can provide help.
If you know of someone who could benefit from BD CAN, please get them to contact us by phoning 020 8215 3000 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. And, if you want to offer help, you can register at www.lbbd.gov.uk/volunteering
Don’t forget! Wherever you live, we can all do our bit by keeping calm, supporting each other and shopping responsibly so that there’s enough for everyone.
If you don’t live in the borough, check your local council’s website as they will have their own scheme for co-ordinating volunteers so help and support gets to those people who need it most.
You can see more information on BDCAN and look at a video on the launch of BDCAN