Nothing like this has happened in modern Britain. Millions of Brits have now been instructed to work from home unless they are ‘key’ workers. While exact details continue to change, the summary of the message is that not everyone can be trusted to be sensible in this unprecedented time and as such, lockdown has been initiated. Although many have been working from home for years, especially in the digital sector, working from home can be a surprisingly heavy shock to the system especially when coupled with enforceable isolation. It can all feel a bit overwhelming BUT it doesn’t have to be. We’ve put together a list of things that can help you work from home successfully and thrive during isolation. Before we begin, this is temporary and while it ‘sucks’ to put it plainly, we will get through this and we will save many lives by acting responsibly and listening to government and NHS advice around COVID-19. For up to date information on COVID-19 visit our Coronavirus Announcement page and our Coronavirus Fake News page where we debunk nonsense advice currently being shared online and on social media.
Maintain a Routine
If you are lucky enough to have a secured job during this period, then one of the worst things you can do is treat this like a holiday or a ‘one-off’. Odds are we will be like this for at least a month, possibly more. Getting your routine correct and balanced early on is key if you are to perform well moving forward. Good, general advice is to treat every morning as if you were going to work. Get up at a sensible fixed time, get showered and have breakfast as usual and start work when you normally would. If you are currently looking for work, then the advice and routine is just as important to keep you motivated and geared towards your goals. Staying in your pyjamas all day and getting up late throws everything out of wack and will be a huge hurdle to you settling into a normal rhythm.
Separate your ‘work zone’ from your ‘home zone’. If possible, set up a workstation somewhere quiet (hard but still doable if you have kids!) where you can avoid as much distraction as possible. Avoid using a laptop on the sofa or somewhere else sporadic; set up a dedicated space where you can work and then leave your work behind when you ‘leave’ for the day. Separating your work from your home life is very important here.
Don’t forget to maintain a work/life balance.
Surprisingly, those who are inexperienced with working at home and suddenly switch can actually end up working far longer in a given week than when at the office. This is a particular problem for driven individuals as it can be incredibly hard to switch off and relax especially when your work areas and living areas are essentially in the same space. Unless you are blessed with a large house or very specific working areas extra care must be taken to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This is true whether you are employed or freelance. You must take time to recuperate or risk rapid burnout.
You can only gain a stronger, fitter body by exercising. There is no quick way around it. You can’t take a special pill or jump on those weird vibrating plates at the gym (which don’t work by the way). You have to get stuck in and do the work but that work is worth it.
Even if you don’t want to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger or Paula Radcliffe, just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can help reverse diabetes progression in pre-Type 2 Diabetics, improve your heart health and help you improve your overall fitness. Exercise is powerful even in very small quantities. I urge anyone reading this who isn’t doing any daily exercise to challenge themselves with a brisk 10-15 minute walk a day or even jogging on the spot at home. Anything is better than nothing. Not only light exercise great for you as an individual but if we all do this, society gets stronger and our NHS is less crowded. For those who want to take things a bit further and maybe work on strengthening muscles at home, there are a wealth of online resources and YouTube channels (all free) which can help. Simply type ‘easy home workout’ into google and be amazed! If you have kids, you can find great ways to keep the family in shape online as well.
There are more benefits to light exercise than just physical, you can reap the mental rewards too. Even small amounts of exercise release endorphins into the blood stream which are ‘feel good’ chemicals. Furthermore, achieving a goal or overcoming a challenge releases dopamine which is the brains reward chemical and helps reinforce rewarding behaviour such that each time your exercise you are more invigorated to do more next time.
The benefits to exercise are substantial and far too numerous to list here but to really drill the point home here are a few of the key benefits:
- Increase in musculature
- Improved aerobic fitness
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Body fat reduction
- Reduction in Type 2 Diabetes risk
- Subtle but noticeable improvement to immune system health
- Reduced breast/colon cancer mortality rates (inconclusive data on other cancers)
- Marked and persistent anti-depressant effect
- Improvements to cognitive control and memory
- Reduction in acute biological response to stress
- Useful in treating disorders relating to ADHD
- Improved sleep quality
The food you take into your body ultimately forms the building of blocks of new cell generation and powers every bodily process. Poor quality, processed foods, high in salt and fat can lead not only to myriad physical health concerns in the long term but can affect your cognitive performance, the quality of your sleep and your day to day mood. Suffice to say, a healthy and balanced diet is critical if you want to keep a strong body and healthy mind. There is no debate on this. Now, a healthy diet doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the occasional take away or treat, the message to stress is:
‘Everything in moderation’
That goes for booze, takeaways, biscuits, crisps and all that other good stuff. A healthy diet is typically a balanced diet. A good amount of protein from lean meats or plants/beans, decent amounts of fruit and vegetables, a large amount of slow-release carbohydrates including whole grain rice and bread and of course healthy fats from things like nuts and avocados. Contrary to popular belief canned fruits and vegetables can contain almost as many vitamins and minerals (depending on how they were prepared) as their fresh equivalents so if you are struggling to get hold of fresh goods, find alternatives!
Switching up your diet to be more balanced especially with a focus on reducing snack and junk foods can have a rapid positive effect to your sleep quality and daily energy levels. More than ever, especially when we are stuck at home, we need to be aware of what we are eating as it is very easy to slip into frequent takeaways and snack food trips to the shop to make ourselves feel better. Why not set a challenge of only 1 takeaway a week? Better yet, why not give a cooking/delivery service like Gusto a go so you can cook delicious and healthy meals at home. There are loads of generous money off deals at Gusto at the moment and it’s like having restaurant quality food at home. I use it, trust me, it’s great and I can barely cook!
Mental Health and Wellness
All the advice in this list ultimately contributes to the support of good mental health. Exposure to the sun, a healthy balanced diet and exercise have been known for decades to be hugely beneficial to both physical and mental health. That is settled science and it is certainly worth small lifestyle adjustments in order to achieve. Aside from this there are numerous other things you can do to not only stay sane during isolation but actually improve as well!
- If possible, try and get out in the sun once a day; even if you do not intend to exercise. Sunlight critical for the formation of Vitamin D
- Focus on a positive mindset; activities like yoga, meditation or deep breathing exercises can help support this
- Don’t forget a bit of fun; board games, video games and movies are a great way to escape alone or with family
- Challenge yourself; if you are finding your mind start to wander consider learning new skills; it could be literally anything from getting a better grasp of Microsoft Excel to learning to knit! YouTube and other free websites mean you won’t have to pay a penny to learn new skills from home.
On top of small lifestyle changes, many turn to natural or pharmaceutical supplements to augment how they feel and perform. Cannabinoids isolated from hemp/cannabis are a robust group of natural compounds with numerous proposed health benefits. While most current evidence is derived from animal models there is emerging clinical evidence in humans (and a wealth of anecdotal evidence) that cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD) help to balance mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety by interacting with parts of the brain that form the serotonin system. With have a wealth of blogs regarding CBD which you can click through below:
If you would like to know more about CBD and how it could help, feel free to reach out to our team via email, phone or social media.
Working from home can be stressful and hopefully this list has given you some insight in to how to perform at your best while in isolation. Take time for yourself, speak to your friends and family regularly and try to support your mental health as much as your physical health.
In big news, the government is now supporting employees and freelancer/self-employed individuals more than at any time in British history, having announced a huge support package. Most working people in the UK can apply to have up to 80% of their average yearly salary paid. For those who are employed, this is your employers’ job and responsible companies are already setting this up. The official claiming website is due to launch at the very end of March so hopefully wages will start to be covered in early April. For those freelancers and self-employed amongst you, you must apply directly. If you have an accountant or financial advisor, they will be able to do most of the leg work on your behalf otherwise it is up to you to get the job done.
We have included useful NHS and GOV links below:
Staying at home tips! – lots of very good quick advice here that expands on our piece and adds new ideas as well.
Explaining COVID-19 to Children – useful article about how to explain our current situation to your kids without frightening them.
Claiming Support and Salaries – an updated webpage letting benefits claimants, employees and businesses know what they should do to gain advice and financial support.