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    How to manage anxiety when working from home

    Optamor Blog

    As part of our free leadership and wellbeing series, high-profile, inspirational speaker, Nick Elston, spoke to us about anxiety, mental health and his own personal experiences. Nick spoke honestly and transparently, offering his top tips on managing anxiety in life and business. Here’s our write-up of his fantastic session.

    FROM MASKING TO EVOLUTION

    It’s all too tempting to try to carry on as normal and embrace the ‘keep calm, carry on’ mentality. We’re British, after all! Pass the tea and possibly a biscuit… 

    Nick points out that this masking of feelings is creating anxiety, and that to help us come to terms with what’s going on at the moment we need to acknowledge that these are brutal times.

    We go into survival mode once we accept this. We start asking ourselves can we get through this financially and emotionally? These are honest conversations we need to have to get to the next phase - evolution mode. This one can be exciting, helping us figure out new ways of doing things. In this stage we pivot, reposition and accept.  

    HOW TO SET BOUNDARIES

    “Being able to focus on the day ahead can be your superpower.”

    It’s important to set boundaries in order to give ourselves time to decompress and release tension. Just being able to take one day at a time is crucial to our mental wellbeing and helps to avoid us feeling overwhelmed. 

    Some key mistakes we all make include filling our work diaries up and scheduling family time in the same way. We fail to plan in our own time - recovery time that safeguards our mental health. For introverts in particular, alone time recharges the mental and physical self. 

    Here are Nick’s 10 top tips for looking after mental health when working from home:

    1. Keep a routine - fall into a day with positive intent. Add a splash of aftershave/perfume if you need and get dressed. This makes you feel like you’re going to do something. 
    2. Time management - schedule in workload and recuperation time. Don’t feel guilty about recharging and resting.
    3. Work space/home space - try not to work in the same space you live and relax. If you have to be on a dining room table, pack everything away at the end of the working day to take the temptation of checking emails away.
    4. Alone time - have the courage to speak to your family about having your own space to make sure that you can have time to unwind. 
    5. Move as much as you can  - get up every hour if you can. Movement changes your physical and mental state and helps to prevent a loss of energy. You don’t want to be on the next Zoom call feeling completely drained.
    6. “Look out for people twice” - stay connected and reach out to people. If somebody is struggling, unless you’re a medical professional, they are not coming to you to be fixed. They want to be heard and understood. Your job is to listen and to signpost where necessary. We need to make sure to check in with team leaders, line managers and mental health first aiders  as they are likely to be struggling the most now. This is because they can be more sensitive to the challenges of people and have a collective responsibility. Who looks after the people that look after people?
    7. Practise vulnerability - if you don’t show your true self, how can people help you? Share challenges and break down barriers. 
    8. Sleep - sleep patterns are a little off right now. It’s so important for your physical and mental health to get enough sleep. Nick’s brain hack - if you struggle to sleep, the best way of putting thoughts to bed is to put them down on paper, then your brain switches off. 
    9. Engage wisely - we’re feeling more sensitive on every front. Make sure you concentrate on interacting with people that make you thrive. 
    10. Recovery - how do you recover every day? Some of it will be part of your make-up, for example introverts need space. Play music. Walk the dog. Bake. Nick plays music and walks before he delivers sessions and makes sure to unwind with quieter tones.  This avoids boom and bust.  

    Nick ended his session with one of his favourite country music quotes: “Every storm runs out of rain.” Here’s to some metaphorical and plain sunshine soon! 

    For more information on Nick’s talk and to get in touch with us about organising your own mental wellbeing sessions, speak with our friendly team

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