Importance of mental health when working from home

Written by: EIaine Baker, EqualEngineers Student Ambassador

Importance of mental health when working from home

We have all heard about the government’s guidance and the tightening restrictions being put in place across the country. It is important that we all do our part to help stop Coronavirus from spreading. Therefore, with isolation being one of the main triggers of depression and people being encouraged to work from home again, here is a ‘How to’ guide on staying healthy when working from home.

“Adults aged 16 to 39 years old, female, unable to afford an unexpected expense, or disabled are the most likely to experience some form of depression during the pandemic.”

What is depression?

Depression is one of the most common types of mental disorders experienced by adults in Great Britain. It affects people in different ways and potentially causes a wide variety of symptoms ranging from consistent feelings of unhappiness and/or hopelessness, to losing interest in the things they enjoyed.

Who is most likely affected?

The proportion of the population with depressive symptoms in Great Britain between 4th and 14th June 2020, based on the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey show that:
• Almost 1 in 5 adults were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic; almost double from around 1 in 10 before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
• 16 – 39 year olds are most likely to have some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic with around 1 in 3 experiencing moderate to severe depressive symptoms compared with 1 in 9 before the pandemic.
• Women were more likely than men to experience some form of depression during the coronavirus pandemic. Almost a quarter of women experienced moderate to severe depressive symptoms compared with 1 in 8 before the pandemic.
• Around 1 in 3 adults who were unable to afford an unexpected expense were likely to experience some form of depression compared with 1 in 5 adults before the pandemic.
• Disabled people were more likely to show depressive symptoms compared to non-disabled people with around 1 in 6 disabled adults developing moderate to severe depressive symptoms during this period.

These statistics show how the COVID 19 pandemic has led to an increase in depression across all groups of people in the UK.

How to keep your mind healthy when working from home?

Here are some tips to improve your mental wellbeing while working from home:

Set up a workday routine and area

Battle procrastination by following a schedule. Determine working hours, start times and break times to avoid over working yourself. This will help you relax in your downtime too. Although you might be tempted to work on your bed you will find yourself being more productive working in a more structured environment. Try make a workspace, ideally an uncluttered desk free from distractions and noise. Maybe add a plant for that extra oxygen brain food.

Stay connected

Staying in touch with those you care about will help to maintain good mental health during long periods of self-isolation. Keep in contact with your friends and family, even if it is just a quick zoom call! There are lots of ideas of things to do online with friends and family, maybe try an online escape room. Also, ensure you keep in contact with work so that you’re never falling behind or worried when it comes back to heading into the office again. Supporting one another through the work is a good way to upkeep healthy relationships with your colleagues.

Stop reading the internet!

There is a lot of misinformation swirling around so ensure to only use trusted sources of information such as government and NHS websites.

If you cannot avoid being on social media or reading things online, then try to limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren’t making you feel better.

Keep hydrated and eat healthy

As we’ve all heard a lot of times before, a balanced diet is key! However, with people being at home and activity levels lower, it is essential to keep at a healthy balanced diet to help fuel your body and mind. See this as an opportunity to cook fresh meals without standing in the queue for the microwave at work on your lunch break.

Get some fresh air and exercise

Even if it is just a short walk in the morning and evening or taking the kids to the park. Leave the house regularly and breath in fresh air. It might even help if you’re having a mental block with your work. Exercise will help you feel energised and happy – try and power through the initial struggle and build up an exercise routine. Maybe try the NHS couch to 5k program.

Where to go for help?

Working remotely may get lonely but don’t worry, you’re not alone. There are so many support sites available including the NHS, Mind, Mates in Mind, Every Mind Matters or even your workplace/school most likely offer counselling services. Services range from 24hr help lines, online chat rooms, support networks or 1-to-1 counselling. Please find help and talk to someone if you do feel low. We’re in this together!