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Managing your wellbeing while working from home
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Managing your wellbeing while working from home

Guidance and resources to help you look after your mental health, keep active, stay connected and manage your overall wellbeing

by Gemma Bradshaw (Communications Officer (Staff & Stakeholders))

Public Health England has recently relaunched its national campaign Every Mind Matters, as a reminder of the importance, now more than ever, to care of your mind as well as your body.

Everyone reacts differently to change, and the way that we think, feel and behave vary between different people and over time. It’s important that you get further support if you need it.

The campaign offers 10 tips to help if you are worried about coronavirus, and 7 simple ideas to tackle working from home.

The government has published extensive guidance for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus, as well as guidance on supporting children and young people’s wellbeing.

In light of this guidance, staff from City’s Organisational Development, HR, Occupational Health, Student Counselling & Mental Health and Sport & Leisure teams have compiled a list of helpful resources and information, divided into the following sections:

Dos and Don’ts for working from home

DoDon't
Stick to a regular routine – set working hours if possibleWork on your sofa – it is not good for posture
Take regular breaks – move around every half an hourTake your break at your computer or in front of a screen – switch off, walk around and stretch
Stay active as much as you canWork where you normally relax – try to have a dedicated work area if this is possible
Keep in touch and stay connected with your Line Manager and colleaguesForget to take time off work – it is important to have a break and switch off now and then
Set yourself new goals for the day, and reflect on these at the end of the working dayForget to make use of available resources, like the ones listed below

Looking after your mental health

The coronavirus outbreak is affecting the way many of us live our lives, and it's normal that this may affect people's mental health. Samaritans recommend these key steps:

  • Pay attention to what you are feeling
  • Connect with people you love
  • Talk about your feelings
  • Make time for something you enjoy.

The mental health charity Mind has extensive information about how to manage your mental health during this time, and how to plan for staying indoors and at home. There is also a managers guide for supporting your staff remotely.

The Mental Health Foundation also lists lots of useful information and advice on looking after your mental health while working during the coronavirus outbreak, including tips for home working, and tips for employees and leaders.

Psychology Tools offer a free downloadable guide on living with worry and anxiety amidst global uncertainty. The guide explores the differences between normal and excessive worry, and offers a selection of practical exercises that you can use to manage worry and maintain wellbeing.

This advice from the BBC and the World Health Organisation (WHO) covers dealing with stress and worry as a result of a high level of news about the coronavirus. They advise to:

Make sure you stay connected with current events but take care where you source your information from. Try to gather information from official sources, such as Public Health England and the WHO website, in order to help you distinguish facts from rumours.

Seek information mainly to take practical steps to prepare for your work and home plans, and to protect yourself and loved ones.

Counselling

If you are experiencing more bad days than good during these challenging times, City’s staff Counselling Service is open and available to staff at City. Visit the web page if you would like to book an appointment (requires staff log-in).

If you feel as though you are in crisis and require immediate support, we advise staff and the wider public to contact:

  • Samaritans – the helpline is available to anyone 24/7, whatever they’re going through. Call free on 116 123 if you want to talk to someone.
  • Education Support Partnership – the UK’s only charity providing mental health and wellbeing support services to all education staff and organisations. Their free, confidential helpline 08000 562 561 is available 24/7 with trained counsellors to help you find a way forward.

Keeping active

The mental health charity Mind recommends building physical activity into your daily routine, if possible. Exercising at home can be simple and there are options for most ages and abilities, such as:

  • Cleaning your home
  • Dancing to music
  • Going up and down stairs
  • Sitting less – if you notice you’ve been sitting down for an hour, just getting up or changing position can help.

CitySport, the University’s sport and fitness centre, is providing tips and home workout videos, suitable for all levels, on their YouTube channel, and at @citysportec1 on their Instagram and Facebook channels – helping you to stay active while working from home.

Sport England are sharing lots of tips, advice and guidance on how to keep or get active in and around your home, including workouts from content providers such as Les Mills on Demand and Joe Wicks (The Body Coach).

There are many independent fitness videos and classes on YouTube and Instagram who are providing free access to home workouts including Yoga and Pilates, High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), bodyweight exercises and stretching.

Home working and computers

We recommend that staff working from home watch this Posturite Webinar, which discusses the issues around working at home with computers, and offers quick and simple changes that you can try.

Here are some workstation exercises you can do in your breaks.


Staying connected

Mental Health First Aid England has launched a national campaign to encourage people to feel empowered to be their authentic self, wherever they work. A key part of doing this is to stay connected with our colleagues:

In the current climate, human connections are more important than ever. Nurturing them virtually will be key to supporting the nation’s mental health and wellbeing as we come together to tackle the impact of coronavirus.

Many departments at City have set up their own Microsoft Teams sites to work collaboratively and stay connected – you can develop these for work projects, but also, importantly, to check in and catch up with your colleagues.

The CIPD have guidance on how to work remotely and manage teams working remotely, which includes online meetings and check ins.

This WONKHE blog has tips on how to ‘keep emotionally fit for the long term’ and stay connected with your colleagues.

Staying connected with your faith communities

In the current climate, it is important for many people to find new ways to stay connected with their faith communities.

City's Chaplaincy team continues to be open and available for staff at City to talk to. The Chaplaincy team is sharing a daily Christian devotion, and a weekly ‘Good Questions’ talk on their Instagram page, @cityunichaplaincy, and is hoping to be able to extend this provision for other faith groups.
Reverend Ian Worsfold, City's Coordinating Chaplain, has listed places of worship that are offering live streamed worship, virtual seminars and teaching opportunities (requires a City staff log-in).

Helping safely in the community

Government advice for the public on the mental health and wellbeing aspects of coronavirus advises that helping and supporting others in the community can make you feel better, too.

If you want to help in your local community, the government has published advice and suggestions on how you can help safely.

Ideas include helping vulnerable people with food shopping, staying in touch over the phone or on social media, encouraging people to stay mentally and physically active, or sharing trusted sources of information.


Relaxation and mindfulness

The mental health charity Mind recommends finding ways to relax and be creative:

There are lots of different ways that you can relax, take notice of the present moment and use your creative side. These include arts and crafts, DIY, singing or listening to music, writing or meditation.

It is important to take regular screen breaks. Always try to take a full lunch break away from screens or devices and try to switch off.

City’s Counselling, Mental Health, Neurodiversity and Disability teams manage the @cityunistressless Instagram account, and are sharing a range of relaxation techniques. These include art therapy journaling, a weekly breathe session and self-care tips.

City’s Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) are running virtual mindfulness sessions for City staff and students three times a week, from 12.30pm – 1pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Use the following links to join a session (requires a City email address):

There are also many other external offerings, such as the mindfulness app Headspace which is currently offering free meditation, sleep and movement exercises to help you – however you’re feeling.

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