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Wellbeing tips for those working at home

If there’s a single message we are all hearing loud and clear during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s the one telling us to ‘stay at home’.

Thankfully, we’re heeding the call. We’re avoiding unnecessary contact with others. And we’re helping to slow the spread of the virus.

Yet as we continue to distance ourselves from others, or even to self-isolate as some people must now do, it’s important to maintain positive social connections. This can be as simple as phoning a family member to check how they’re going, or using things like FaceTime or Skype to see and hear a friendly face.

These connections not only help us cope in times of stress, they are essential for our mental health.

If you’re working from home

You probably already know this, but working from home can bring a whole new set of challenges. Here’s a few simple and practical tips to help you overcome them:

Change out of your pyjamas each morning. You may not need to dress as formally as you used to, but ditching the PJs can help get you in the right headspace to start your day.

Set up a dedicated workspace. Ideally, one that has adequate lighting, comfortable seating, and is situated away from any noise.

Set a schedule. Give yourself clearly defined working hours and regular breaks, just like the real thing. This will help you maintain a boundary between work and home life, minimise the possibility of work intruding into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day.

Limit distractions. Being at home means it’s easy to be distracted by other people or tasks (such as household chores). Instead, schedule set times when you can take a break to do these things.

Keep in touch. Maintain regular contact with your manager or colleagues (via phone or video call) to ensure you are each aware of workloads and timelines. The ABC has compiled a list of apps that can help you stay socially connected.

Thrive at Work at Home

ARC Laureate Fellow Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University has launched a new daily video and blog series.

This provides evidence based, practical tips to support productivity and mental health when working from home, and to guide those who are managing others working from home.

For more information on Thrive at work at home visit the website here:

Don’t just stay in, stay healthy

With all this time suddenly on our hands, it’s tempting to turn on the TV and binge-watch our favourite series all day long. This, however, is not necessarily the best idea.

Why? Because the link between our physical and mental health means it’s important to stay active. A far better idea is to engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Exercise regularly, keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy food.

Do this every day and then reward yourself with another episode of that new show you’ve just discovered.

Give your body a workout

Australia’s Physical Activity & Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines for Adults (18-64 years) recommendations are for adults to find thirty at least five days a week. This can be at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity physical activity per week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

Any activity is better than none, and more activity provides more physical and mental health benefits.

Jump on YouTube and you’ll find lots of fitness videos, from beginners to advanced, to suit literally every age range. Additionally, many yoga and fitness instructors are now running ‘virtual classes’ which you can attend online.

Just get out your mat and get started. And if you haven’t got access to the internet, or would just prefer to go old-school, running on the spot or a few sit-ups and push-ups will still do the trick.

While it’s been recommended we stay at home, the importance of getting outside for regular activity has been acknowledged. If you’re someone who goes on regular walks, continue to do this to find 30. Getting outside for a short period is important to help maintain both our physical and mental health. Just remember the importance of social distancing.

Give your brain a workout too

Remember playing Scrabble as a child? Or chess? Or even endless games of Uno or Monopoly? Games like these are not only fun for all the family, they’re a great way of keeping mentally active.

Or if you think board games are bored games, why not try learning something new? Like how to do a cryptic crossword. Or how to paint a watercolour. Or maybe how to play the guitar.

You’ll not only be developing a new skill, you’ll be developing a healthy and active mind.

Eat healthy foods

Just as binge-watching isn’t such a good idea, binge eating isn’t either.

Instead, do your best to have a variety of foods on hand from each of the five main food groups.

Be sure to pay particular attention to getting enough of the following:
• Vitamin C – it’s in most fruit and veg (particularly in oranges)
• Zinc – it’s in most animal products and many nuts and seeds
• Iron – it’s in meat, beans, lentils and spinach

Being low in any of these could make it harder for your body to fight off any winter bugs. Eating real food is your first line of defence, unless you need supplements for a diagnosed deficiency.

Not much of a cook? Maybe it’s time to get into the kitchen.

For top tips about leading a healthy lifestyle and recipe ideas, visit LiveLighter.

Keep up your fluids

It’s important to always stay hydrated, not just when it’s hot but when the temperature drops too. Keep a bottle in sight to remind yourself to drink water throughout the day. And remember that soups and cups of tea or coffee count towards your fluid intake too (though best not to go overboard on the caffeine).

Get some sun

Not too much, of course. But when you’ve been stuck inside all day, nothing beats being out in the fresh air for a while. When the UV index is below three (you can download the SunSmart app here) get in the garden, get your sleeves rolled up, and get yourself some mood-boosting sun.

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