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Coping with work during COVID-19

Susan shares her experience of adapting to work during COVID and managing the impact on her mental well-being

This week Susan is clearly still adapting to life and work during COVID-19 with ups and downs. However, there is a lot that she talks about which has improved. We’ll cover some of the team working and the role of organisations in later steps, and focus here on Susan’s individual actions.

To understand the steps that Susan has taken to improve her management of work and wellbeing, we can look at personal, social0, and work-related factors.

Personal factors

Susan mentions one of our wellbeing basics that we’ve touched on previously – exercise and physical activity. She also touches on another problem we’ve spoken about, managing uncertainty and coping with confusing messages.

Susan doesn’t appear to have a solution to this yet, but we’ll pick up on this throughout this week. On an individual basis, mindfulness has decades of evidence supporting its positive impact on our thoughts and mood, and links back to this week’s theme of noticing.

Susan mentions that she’s grateful to have work at the moment. Gratitude can be a powerful tool that is associated with happiness, health, positive emotions, and strong relationships.

Pause for thought

What are you grateful for? If you feel comfortable, please share in the discussion below. Naming 3 things that we feel grateful for each day has been shown to improve our mood.

It is worth keeping in mind that when anyone is in the middle of communicating their distress, such as Kevin, the task of validating how difficult it is and how appropriate it is to be upset must come before any expectation that they can get in touch with things they are grateful for.

Social factors

Once again, the principle of social support is raised by Susan. She reports connecting with her manager and her team with positive effects.

Beyond work, Susan mentions social connections, such as her exercise classes. This can support our mental wellbeing and also our engagement at work.

Susan raises a number of actions that appear to have helped her. Interestingly, these relate back to some of the challenges we saw last week around disrupted routines, roles, and trouble disconnecting from work.

Susan suggests that scheduling work and non-work activities have helped her provide structure and routine to her life. Additionally, clarifying working hours, as some people work remotely and flexibly, has helped her to “switch off” and disconnect from work – a big factor in work-related stress.

Susan has spoken to her manager with positive results, as she feels listened to and valued. This is of course conditional on her manager being open and responsive, and her organisation encouraging this approach.

The additional communication individually and as a team has allowed Susan to clarify her role amongst the disruption of COVID-19. She seems to have found this helpful, and even reports a renewed purpose and meaning to her role, which we know can support workplace health.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of steps that someone can take to manage their mental wellbeing at work during COVID-19. Are there other things that you do?
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COVID-19: Psychological Impact, Wellbeing and Mental Health

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