Estimated Time 12 min
August 20, 2020
The sudden shift to working remotely during COVID-19 is taking a toll on the mental health of workers with many unable to find respite, even in the safety of their own homes. The pandemic has caused stressors in careers, personal finances, and family life, with approximately 70% of staff describing COVID-19 as the most stressful moment in their jobs. The culprit seems to be a 24/7 “always-on” society that has evolved from hyper-communication. Digital communication is at an all-time high, enabling businesses to adapt, bypass and respond to disruptions caused by COVID-19.
But, suddenly, work meetings can take place at any time of the day without warning and instantaneous responses have become the expectation and the norm. More and more people are feeling the pressure to be just as responsive as the automated technology they are using. Although working times appear to be on the rise for full-time employees during the shakeup of COVID-19, stress is compromising overall productivity. Many common work-related factors can add to stress during a pandemic:
- Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
- Taking care of personal and family needs while working
- Managing a different workload
- Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
- Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
- Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
- Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
- Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms of stress, try to identify where those symptoms of stress are coming from. Common stressors experienced by employees working during COVID-19 may include:
- Concern about the risk of exposure to Covid19
- Concern about exposing members of the family to Covid19
- Taking care of the family while working from home
- Uncertainty about the future of your employment
- Learning about new working methods
Now let us see 5 ways in which you can reduce your stress.
1. Maintain a balance
It is very important to understand why work-life balance benefits you whichever organization you work for. To perform at the top of your game, you need to identify ways to reduce workplace stress. And falling asleep with your phone in hand so you can respond instantly to notifications at any hour is not offering any relief. The onus is on each of us individually to set feasible boundaries and destress, as achieving work-life balance will help up your engagement level at work. Travel has been largely halted and COVID-19 looks set to disrupt the remainder of 2020. Many workers have not taken a break since the start of the pandemic and there is little relief in sight. Given the extenuating circumstances of this pandemic and the magnitude of stress it has promoted, people should make sure they retreat with mental health days, family days or even digital detox weekends. You owe it to yourself and to your team to make sure you are maintaining a healthy work-life balance that allows you to thrive, both personally and professionally.
2. Mind your physical health and don’t forget to laugh
The mind and body go hand in hand. If the brain is affected by stress, the rest of the body suffers. The good news is that exercise will help to break this process, as physical activity has a beneficial effect on the brain and reduces stress levels. Exercise has been shown to alleviate stress, regulate mood, enhance sleep, and increase self-esteem. This can also trigger anti-anxiety effects. Healthy diets can also help to combat the effects of daily stress by reducing blood pressure and improving the immune system, which is especially beneficial considering that COVID-19 is related to both. However, there are other extensive advantages associated with consuming these foods.
3. Become sustainable beyond COVID-19
With global unemployment at an all-time high, workers must approach the work-life balance with some caution. In other words, you will need to ensure your work remains a priority and that your workload does not compromise your job security in what is shaping up to be a competitive job market. Yet occasionally sitting out and taking a breather doesn’t have to be a bad thing, because it will help you do better and go farther in the long run. After all, success is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you enjoy your own time, many will come to respect it as well. In setting a precedent, people can come to you only when they need support, rather than making you a default person for any task. Sticking true to your priorities and scheduling them with intention can help workers maintain an essential work-life balance and maximize productivity in the long term. This shift can also open up opportunities for teams to better distribute workflow and nimbly adapt to the changing demands of an evolving workplace that is always on and a remote workforce that is always connected.
4. Connect and communicate
Communicate with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees about job stress while maintaining social distancing. Identify things that cause stress and work together to identify solutions. Talk openly with employers, employees, and unions about how the pandemic is affecting work. Expectations should be communicated clearly by everyone. Ask about how to access mental health resources in your workplace. Take breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with your supportive colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends. Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns, how you are feeling, or how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you. Connect with others through phone calls, email, text messages, mailing letters or cards, video chat, and social media. Check on others. Helping others improves your sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem. Look for safe ways to offer social support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, such as depression and anxiety.
5. Limit media consumption
Avoid continuous exposure to news, media, and social media that may trigger or elevate anxiety, stress, or panic. Stay informed by following few, authoritative resources, but limit media consumption.
Much of the stress during this pandemic situation is due to the feeling of helplessness. With guidelines of the government shifting and modifying each day due to changes in the developing crisis, employers are trying to adapt, and employees can end up feeling caught in the middle. While stress cannot be lessened with any magic wand, your continued determination and courage will help you find your way through this pandemic.
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