Part 4 – Covid Company Regroup & Reboot:
In Part 1 of our Covid Company Regroup Series, we discussed Communication strategies and more productive online collaboration during COVID. In Part 2, we dove into practices for virtual office etiquette along with virtual team tips. All aimed to help businesses during the recovery and rebuilding process now deep into the COVID Pandemic.. In this part 4 we helped you understand and use design thinking in your business and gave examples of business model transformation and how some industries were using creative problem-solving to reframe a “crisis into opportunity” for business. Now, in the last of our Covid Company Regroup & Reboot series we are going to discuss tips for Managing stress, anxiety, and depression for you, your team and family in times of uncertainty.
Emotional first-aid and wellness practices that support business stabilization, self-care, and family life are not just important but necessary. We are all still learning how to cope with the COVID global health crisis. Each day, in our businesses and in life there is a new challenge that we may encounter. Here are a few things that we can be doing to help our people, (Our teams and our families) take care of their stress and mental health during these difficult and uncertain times.
General COVID-19 Coping Recommendations
Maintaining routine: As much as you can, stick to a daily routine activities like enjoying your morning coffee. Take a shower and give yourself time to get ready before work. This can provide us with a sense of comfort in uncertain situations. There may be a need to develop new routines, especially when children may be in the home.
Managing stress: We are all navigating new levels of stress during this time. It’s important for us to take it easy on ourselves. Be kind not only to others, but yourself. Recognize that this is an unprecedented time, and remember that it’s okay to not always be okay. We can learn how to better manage our stress through practice. Sometimes just taking a deep breath and counting to 10 can be a life saver.
Getting proper rest: As always,it is important to maintain a regular sleep schedule. When our sleep is disrupted, it can impact our immunity, and can also make it more difficult for us to think clearly, manage our emotions, and make important decisions. If you are having trouble sleeping research a sound machine or there are great apps available based on your sleep personality. Find a way to wind down and calm the mind before bed. Limiting the use of social media before bed also may helpful.
Staying active: Being at home for extended periods of time can take a toll on us. Cabin fever sets in as well as lazy pajama standstills may be a side effect. It is important for us to focus on our physical well-being just as equally as we focus on other parts of our lives. Go for a walk, stretch, do an at-home workout—physical exercise reduces stress and anxiety. So may just turning up your favorite music with a beat and just dance for 30 seconds.
Supporting Employee Mental Health
Promoting self care while WFH: Working from home can feel isolating, which is why it’s even more important to take care of ourselves. We encourage our employees to check in with themselves, connect with loved ones on a regular basis, stay active, make healthy nutrition choices, and keep up with a normal sleep schedule. Set wellbeing reminders on calendars throughout the day. It is often difficult to stick with new habits during stressful times, so start with simple things you enjoy that help you feel healthy and connected.
Encouraging detachment (from work): Detaching from work during a non-work time (and when you choose not to be working) has always been part of wellbeing culture. It is even more important now to maintain a clear separation between when we are focusing on work and when we choose not to be working. It’s important to establish a routine to help you disengage from your work (whether it’s for 20minutes or 2 hours) to allow your mind and body to reset. Some have established a routine of neighborhood walks as a mental commute before or after work. Others have taken advantage of more flexible working arrangements and additional time off for those who need to take care of a loved one. Others are alternating “No Meeting Days” to make it easier and more predictable swapping off childcare. If you’re using a Calendar for work, customize your hours in your settings and meeting organizers will get a notification when they schedule a meeting outside of your indicated working hours or working days. We have seen more children, roommates, and pets popping into video Hangout meetings which are a great reminder for us to laugh and take a step back from work.
Growing resilience Muscles: Resilience is our ability to respond to and recover from stress,which is essential in coping with a complex challenge, like a public health crisis or a major disruption to daily life. Research shows that the skill can be grown, practiced and cultivated by our attitudes and behaviors. Learn how to check-in on your daily T.E.A. (Thoughts, Energy, Attention), a simple activity using questions to identify common points of stress and effectively reframe our mindset in those moments. Also using the T.E.A activity with families and friends to check in on each other can make a huge difference.
Connect & Reminding teams to check in On Each other: Finding Ways To maintain culture in a virtual setting can help promote social connectedness and establish safe spaces, even when we’re apart. Even though part 2 spoke about this at length but it bares repeating. Online mental health sessions or training can help us be intentional about checking in on the well-being of their team, and to better understand the signs when team members or family members are struggling. Virtual listening sessions for those in need of a sympathetic ear can literally save a life. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system. If you need to stay at home and distance yourself from others, avoid social isolation. Find time each day to make virtual connections by email, texts, phone, Face Time/similar apps or by sending a note to brighten the day. If you’re working remotely from home, ask your co-workers how they’re doing and share coping tips. Try virtual socializing and talking to those in your home. Do something for others. Find purpose in helping the people around you. For example, check on your friends, family members and neighbors, especially those who are elderly. If you know someone who can’t get out, ask if there’s something needed, such as groceries or a prescription picked up, for instance. Be sure to follow Center for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and your government recommendations on social distancing and group meetings.
Knowing all your options for mental health support: In difficult times, it’s okay to not be okay or feel like aren’t operating at your best. Over 75 percent of U .S. companies with 251-1000 employees offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), and many now offer virtual care services. If your company has an EAP provider, you and your dependents can access resources like free and confidential emotional well-being guidance, as well as free expert information on other topics to help you cope with stress, anxiety, depression, relationship issues and addictions. If your company doesn’t have an EAP, check with your health insurance provider on the benefits available to you for mental health, behavioral health, or substance-abuse coverage. Understanding all of your options to get the help you need is now more important than ever. Also knowing there are options to remain anonymous some may be more likely to seek help.
Stay informed, however avoid too much exposure to news: When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from reliable local and national officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Look for reliable sources such as the CDC and WHO to stay knowledgeable. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and periodically check for updates. Limit screen time. Turn off electronic devices for some time each day, including 30 minutes before bedtime. Make a conscious effort to spend less time in front of a screen — television, tablet, computer and phone.
Stay busy and focus on positive thoughts: A distraction can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression. Enjoy hobbies that you can do at home, identify a new project or clean out that closet you promised you’d get to. Doing something positive to manage anxiety is a healthy coping strategy. Choose to focus on the positive things. Consider starting each day by listing things you are thankful for. Maintain a sense of hope, work to accept changes as they occur, try to keep problems in perspective, and focus on things in your control.
Seek help when needed: If you are distressed, talk to clergy, a counselor, doctor, or contact a help or crisis line.
Positioning Managers & Leaders
Checking in on wellbeing during 1:1s: Checking in with each other is important, now more than ever. It can be helpful to allot 5-10 minutes at the beginning of your 1:1s to just check in and ask each other how you’re doing. This will enhance connection and make you feel more comfortable and open to talking about the elephant in the room.
Checking in with each other during team meetings: Similarly, it’s important to open up conversation with your teams in team meetings. Check in with your team regularly. Ask each other how you’re really doing, see if there are ways for teammates to help each other out, and be respectful of each other’s experiences. This can enhance psychological safety and build better working relationships among the team.
Virtual team-building: It’s during these times that we really see people come together and help each other. Just because we are not in the office doesn;t mean that we should discontinue our efforts to connect with each other and build great relationships across the team. Do something fun! Set up a weekly team challenge, film a team lip sync video to your favorite song, or do office trivia. Be creative! We all need a little bit of positivity in our lives.
Manager & leader peer communities: Provide forums for your managers and leaders to share best practices with one another through this trying time. We’re all learning how to cope with this together. Getting through this isn’t one size fits all, but we can take what others are doing, shift it to make it our own, and make it work for us.
Know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! If you are quarantined or need to practice self-isolation it is important to remember that this is a temporary measure. You may also like to remind yourself of the part you are playing in keeping others safe. Do what you can to stay informed, stay well and stay connected. We can be strong together. Now more than ever, we need to support each other. Make sure to stay connected with your loved ones by using different means such as phone, computer, or even old-fashioned techniques such as writing letters to your friends and family who live farther away.