Back at the Kitchen TablePosted in : HR Updates on 2 February 2021
When we entered lockdown last March, few of us would have thought that we’d facing the same restrictions almost a year later. For those of us that work from home and also have school-aged children, we find ourselves grappling with the challenges that come with being both an employee and a teacher.
There have been many reports in the media of the mental health impact of lockdown with suicide levels at an all-time high and it is not difficult to understand why. It is not easy always trying to be optimistic and tell ourselves that this won’t last forever, especially when there seems to be no definitive end in sight. We are, after all, social animals and isolation is very unnatural to us.
That said, despite the challenges that the pandemic brings it is important, more than ever to make a conscious effort to look after ourselves, both physically and emotionally.
Here are a few tips I thought worth sharing which help me feel more in control of an otherwise turbulent situation:
Plan and prepare
If, like me you are home-schooling, make sure you plan the night before. Set out the activities which need completed the next day or if they’re online, study what topics need to be covered. It really helps me to set out the order of activities and work around the school clock so as to provide structure to the day. If you know that you will be unavailable at certain times of the day, for example due to virtual meetings, make sure you set aside some work for your child that requires limited supervision like accelerated reading or a Joe Wicks workout (hooray he’s back!).
Make sure your workspace is your space and remove any clutter that may otherwise be distracting. Many of us will be back at the kitchen table so make sure you have the dishes tidied away and the laundry basket out-of-sight otherwise you’ll find yourself stressing over how much housework needs done. And at the end of your working day, tidy your workspace as best you can so that your home starts to feel like a home again, rather than an office.
Let there be light
Letting light into your workspace is known to trigger the brain to release serotonin which helps us feel calm and focused. So, raise the blinds and even position your desk / table close to natural daylight with a view of the outside. Admittedly light is limited at this time of year so consider taking vitamin D and C supplements or eat foods rich in these essential nutrients to avoid becoming deficient.
Given that we’re more likely to be at home and not commuting it can be tempting to sit at our desks all day and just get on with things. But exercise is good for our mental and physical wellbeing and energy levels (you’ll also get the sun if you go out for a walk at lunchtime). Make sure you build activity into your daily routine to avoid the risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Even standing for 1 minute out of every hour can greatly improve circulation. Also setting aside time to meditate or be mindful can have profound benefits on our mental health so try to make some time each day to simply be still, think of nothing and focus on the now. It’s definitely a habit that requires practice but well worth the investment.
While social interaction is greatly limited right now, we can still make an extra effort to take advantage of technology and keep in touch with friends. We’re also permitted to exercise with one person from one other household, so use that as an excuse to stay active and catch up with a chum.
The most important thing that we should remember is that there are so many factors at play in the world right now that are beyond our control. Rather than fret about the future we should spend our time on the things we can positively impact on like our wellbeing and friendships.
We’re not there yet but we will get through. Remember, keep calm and keep your mask on!
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