Working from Home? Here’s how you can keep depression and anxiety at bay

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August 7, 2020 1:55 PM

Work from home is currently the new norm rather than exception and while it was often a dream for many employees, yet in the current scenario many have found it difficult to navigate.

work from home,WFH,work from home tips, health tips for work from home, depression, covid 19 pandemic, work from home style, latest news on work from home,coronavirus outbreakWork hours are no longer restricted to 9-5 and employees are often faced with work calls and messages at all hours, including on weekends and holidays. (Reuters photo)

Work from home is currently the new norm rather than exception and while it was often a dream for many employees, yet in the current scenario many have found it difficult to navigate. Some may wonder regarding the dichotomy, Ms Ritika Aggarwal, Consultant Psychologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre explains some of the reasons for this.

Mental Fatigue: During this time mental fatigue can be brought on by a variety of reasons, namely, the constant surveillance when outside or around people, the limited social contact, the uncertainty of when covid-19 will end or what the future would look like, juggling a number of tasks at the same time, trying to remember all the things that need to be done, not getting a break from family/ roommates, and the list can go on. For many, managing the house side by side with work may be a first which in itself can be daunting and anxiety provoking.

Pressure to Be Positive and Productive: When anyone talks about feeling low or anxious, a general reaction tends to be someone saying, “be positive, it’ll be fine” or “don’t stress”. Another common theme through this pandemic has been about being a failure if not doing xyz new activity. All of this adds to the pressure we put on ourselves where one can end up feeling guilty for relaxing.

Role Blurring: Work hours are no longer restricted to 9-5 and employees are often faced with work calls and messages at all hours, including on weekends and holidays.

The home also places demands on your time: household chores, family time, etc. This may result in one feeling pressured on multiple fronts and feeling like neither is getting their full attention which can further result in guilt or it may lead to keeping one role (usually the domestic role) on the back burner.

Fear of Poor Job Security and Financial Constraints: Many companies are facing financial issues during the pandemic leading to salary cuts and staff layoffs. This creates stress and fear which further causes a cycle of inefficiency and indecision among the workforce.

Sleep Issues: Many people have been complaining of difficulty falling asleep or waking up through the night as a result of the anxiety surrounding the pandemic. This reduced quality and quantity of sleep can impair our ability to function efficiently and aggravate our mental health concerns.

Now we come to the more important aspect of this and that is how do we solve these issues.

Acceptance: Some amount of stress is normal during this time – it helps one take measures to protect oneself. Acknowledge it, allow yourself to feel it, and then move onto the next activity. Stress, anxiety, and low mood become a concern when they start to interfere or disrupt one’s daily activities.

Create a Routine: Enhance your sense of control by creating a routine for yourself which includes activities to help you transition into and out of work. It may be easier if you inform everyone at home of ground rules during work hours. In addition to working hours, your schedule should also include time for household chores, rest, and family.

Set up a Workstation: When creating your office space at home, try to keep it separate from your personal space. Avoid working in your bedroom, but if there are space constraints at least try avoiding working on the bed. Set up a desk in a space with limited distractions, adequate lighting, good internet connection, and any other resources you may require.

Build on your Skill Set: Enhancing your repertoire of skills may make you feel more confident about being retained by the company and thus reduce your anxiety.
Nutrition: Eat healthy food. Avoid junk food, coffee, alcohol, or other substances.

Self-Care: Look after your wellbeing by connecting with yourself and your connections, as well as de- stress with exercise, yoga, relaxation exercises such as deep breathing, and mindfulness meditation. Reframe thoughts, and practice gratitude and random acts of kindness to generate a positive, relaxed feeling.

If you continue to feel anxious, depressed, or fearful, consider consulting a mental health professional who will guide you through it.

Dr. Mitul Thakker, Chief People and Compliance Officer, IKS Health, says,” As we move forward during these trying times, the uncertainty of the pandemic has instigated a gamut of possibly negative emotions amongst the working population across. With the lockdown in place amidst it’s unpredictable outcomes, employees may be distraught despite the convenience of Working from Home. It has been observed that with the WFH situation, the work-life distinction has blurred, adding to it the burden of home chores and child/elder care. At such a time, organizations must extend more empathy towards its workforce, and endeavour to support and encourage them to maximize
productivity while they achieve the best possible work-life balance. In an effort to stay connected and build a positive working environment, at the outset of the lockdown, at IKS Health, we developed a platform called InGage to help our workforce manage their mental, emotional and physical well-being. The platform has a wealth of information from learning initiatives to a spectrum of individual, team and family challenges for engagement. The need of the hour is to continue to reinforce positivity and manage the feelings of isolation, despondency and uncertainty, by communication and meaningful engagement.”

GOQii, the smart-tech enabled preventive healthcare platform conducted a study on mental health. Founder & CEO, GOQii, Mr Vishal Gondal, adds “According to our recent survey conducted across 10000+ Indians, 43% of Indians are currently plagued with depression and are learning to cope with it. With 26% Indians facing mild depression, 17% face a more strenuous kind. It is concerning to note that 6% Indians are severely depressed. One of the major reasons for mental health issues is stress and anxiety, as a result of the uncertainty around the current situation. While stress has impacted everybody, working professionals are increasingly anxious and stressed due to the mounting pressure of work and the expectation to balance personal and professional life. In order to combat mental health issues, organisations must encourage lifestyle modifications with physical activity, nutrition and sleep being the major focus. We at GOQii encourage our employees to lead a wholesome and healthy lifestyle, with access to GOQii play videos and mental health and emotional well-being coaches, in case they require one-on-one counselling. Adapting to a healthier lifestyle is the key to keep anxiety and depression at bay.”

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