Working from home — keeping it remotely normal

Summary

Here we are, in the time of COVID-19, confined as much as possible to our homes by extraordinary circumstances. Many of us have work to do, some in sudden isolation, while others need to be productive in the company of the people they love most: a partner and perhaps children, from infants in nappies to uni students now studying online.

Here we are, in the time of COVID-19, confined as much as possible to our homes by extraordinary circumstances. Many of us have work to do, some in sudden isolation, while others need to be productive in the company of the people they love most: a partner and perhaps children, from infants in nappies to uni students now studying online.

Even for the 3.5 million Australians who reported regularly working from home in the last Census, the situation is immensely altered. Our opportunities for social and business interactions beyond the home, for example, are now curtailed in ways in which we were not prepared for. But because we’re likely to be in this for the long haul, making adjustments, experimenting with new ways of household scheduling, investigating previously unexplored avenues for learning, and trying new at-home exercise routines — is worth the effort.

Using this ‘Covid normal’ world to kick goals and maintain mental resilience

While some people new to home working have found it very positive (more family time, less commuting); others, even those who are usually highly motivated and efficient, have found it difficult being untethered from their usual workplace structure.

Vanessa Carty, a clinical psychologist and part of the Best Doctors network of specialists says that in times of uncertainty, “ it’s a normal response to feel some worry or anxiety about what’s going to happen. But there are lots of things we can do to help manage our relationships, responsibilities, and our mental health.”

Get organised and communicate

Working from home or in an almost-empty office are the new realities for many of us. So how do we maintain a relatively normal and harmonious environment in these unusual situations? Carty suggests the following

  • Agree on the hours you’ll be available for work and meetings with your employer and co-workers. This allows flexible time management in concert with the demands of home life.
  • Maintain healthy life habits like regular sleep, meal and work/play times. It’s a great way to keep a sense of normality in your life.
  • Factor in movement or exercise sessions each day. “This is great for the mind and body,” says Carty, “it can defuse frustrations and release endorphins into your system.” Consider walking to buy groceries; get gardening, kicking a ball with the kids or using a skipping rope. There’s also been a surge in app-led exercise sessions (yoga, cardio, weights, dance routines) for all ages too.
  • Share successes or stumbling blocks that happened today can build confidence for tomorrow. Think about telling children how their quiet time helped you achieve something; congratulate colleagues on successes; share with friends the organised chaos and funny stories of your day.
  • Have things to look forward to. Dates in the diary can help keep everyone on track: Chats over the fence at an agreed time; kids love movie nights with mini ice-creams or popcorn or a games night with prizes. It’s a great time to rediscover your record collection and just dance! Weaving fun things into your day, says Carty, “will help balance your mind and bring your household back to the here and now, and an appreciation of the things you can control”.
  • Be aware of how your conversation reflects your fears, especially when around children. Carty recommends trying to balance the discussion, adding good stories of people helping one another, showing kindness, or finding amazing solutions to some of the problems we’re facing in the time of COVID-19. Children, on the other hand, need to voice their fears. You can fine very useful tips emergingminds.com.au
  • Connect with more distant family and friends It’s important for people of all ages to stay in touch with their social network: phoning, texting, Skyping, Zooming are all great ways to check in with the circle of people you care about. Schedule a shared virtual tea break with your parents, a Friday evening download with colleagues over a glass of wine; read to a niece or nephew or friend’s child before they go to sleep. “Hearing another person’s voice can make us feel both calmer and connected,” says Carty.
  • Make a list of what you need and want to do. Breaking larger tasks into smaller blocks — things you can do if the baby sleeps longer than expected, if you have time for one more job before lunch — quickly knocks over your big goals by increments. And don’t forget to add your exercise, social events and extracurricular activities, so that your life is rich and varied — if different — in the time of Coronavirus.

MLC Life Insurance is here to support our customers and our community

Today’s advanced communications mean we can do many things from home. As an MLC Life Insurance customer, you can access confidential help via the Mental Health Navigator service provided by Best Doctors.

About Mental Health Navigator by Best Doctors

Today’s advanced communications mean we can do many things from home. As an MLC Life Insurance customer, that connectivity also means that if confinement, social isolation and an uncertain economy are constantly weighing on your mind, you can access help via the Mental Health Navigator service provided by Best Doctors.

With one call to Best Doctors, you can be connected to a dedicated Mental Health Nurse, who will help you access useful resources, assess your needs, and can coordinate a telehealth assessment with a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist. They can also help you find a local mental health specialist. It can be difficult when you’re tipped off balance by disruptive events to manage your own mental-health intervention and recovery; Best Doctors’ Mental Health Nurse will stick with you for up to six months, providing that navigational support.

Vanessa Carty, BSc (Hons) Master of Psychology (Clinical)

Vanessa is a clinical psychologist based in Melbourne and provides psychological assessments and treatments to adults, adolescents and children. She focuses on evidenced-based treatment

to clients with a wide variety of clinical problems, including anxiety, depression, problem gambling, pre and postnatal depression and anxiety and trauma-related problems.

References:

  1. https://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/lookup/6333.0Media%20Release1August%202015
  2. https://emergingminds.com.au/resources/supporting-children-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak/

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Mental Health Navigator by Best Doctors

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