10 Ways to Maintain Mental Health at Work During and After COVID-19
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Life in the “Post-Pandemic Period”
As vaccines roll out across the country, it feels like everyone is sharing a similar sigh of relief. There is a light at the end of the Covid-tunnel, and we’re getting close to it. In a lot of ways, there is a lot to look forward to.
On the other hand, though, we’re all walking out of lockdown with different lives than we had when we walked into it, which can be a strange and even frightening feeling. Think about it: Quarantine changed the way we’ve been living and working for the past year, and going “back to normal” might be harder than it sounds.
Are you ready to return to “normal life”?
Are you ready to go back to your office? Are you just getting your small business running again after being forced to shut down? Or maybe you’re just trying to get back on your feet in a new job after being unemployed for months? Maybe for you, returning to work was not a choice. After a year of completely adapting to quarantine life, you’ve gotten used to it, and when you return there will most likely be some changes made to your workplace.
We’re all crawling out of our quarantine holes a little uneasy and you might have some mixed feelings. But whatever your situation is, it’s critical to make your mental health a priority as we shift gears and embrace a restart.
The importance of maintaining mental health
Coming out of a period of long-term stress - AKA a year of being stuck in your home and potentially worrying yourself sick about finances and the state of the world – is an adjustment. That kind of prolonged tension isn’t a switch you can just turn off. In fact, going back can introduce new feelings of additional stressors.
Too much stress and worrying can lead you down a perilous path of anxiety and or depression that can affect your home life and work life (or if you are already struggling with anxiety or depression, it is recommended to get the right help as you embark on your “Post-Covid” path.)
That’s why it’s so important to embrace self-care and create positive daily routines that keep your mind sharp and healthy so you can handle stress well when it inevitably comes on your path back to normalcy. The good news is, there are ways to be proactive to do so.
Stay proactive about maintaining your mental health
The biggest thing to keep in mind during your day-to-day mental health practices is that routine is key. Make sure you set your schedule and carve out time to make the following practices a priority:
1. Practice relaxation techniques: Don’t underestimate the power of breathing. A growing number of studies have proven that incorporating deep breathing techniques into your routine can help reduce insomnia and anxiety.
2. Practice mindfulness: This is something Jessica Dubin, LCSW, incorporates regularly as techniques with a number of her patients battling anxiety or depression. Mindfulness is all about being present and creating more awareness in our daily actions, and setting intentions and practices to do so.
3. Stay active: You probably already know the importance of exercise in your everyday routine to stay physically healthy, but it’s also important in keeping your mind healthy. And it doesn’t have to be a high-intensity workout like Crossfit to get the job done – simply going out for a 30-minute walk can be a real game changer. Just find something you enjoy doing that involves moment, and carve out time to do it for at least half an hour on a daily basis.
4. Keep your workspace clean: Anything that increases productivity and promotes positivity will help you stay happy and healthy. So, whether you’re returning to your office or continuing to work from home, make sure you have a “Spring Cleaning” moment with your desk to propel your fresh start.
5. Consider taking a mental health day: After working endlessly for a prolonged period of time with long nights and early mornings, we all have those days where we just need to recharge. That’s okay. Rest is critical to prevent anxiety attacks and burn out, so do what you need to do so you can go back to work the next day ready to be productive.
6. Set your hours and stick to them: Whether you’re going back to an office setting or perhaps working at a small business, it can be so easy to feel the pressure of diving in head-first to work after a financially difficult year. And while that kind of motivation is a positive thing, make sure you don’t hurt your physical and mental health in the process. Setting strict times of when you work and when you relax is key.
7. Change up your work setting: It’s no question that many things about the pandemic have forced us to adapt. Maybe you’ve gotten comfortable in your work-from-home setting, and that’s great. If it’s possible, changing up your setting, like maybe going into the office one day and working from home the next, or perhaps setting yourself up at a coffee shop, can introduce some new creative juices and help you feel refreshed.
8. Make sleep a priority: Your sleep habits can affect every area of your life – your work productivity, your mood, your eating habits, your exercise habits, and your overall wellness. Not getting enough sleep on a consistent basis is a slippery slope that you can prevent going down by being strict about your bed time and turning off technology an hour before you get in bed.
9. Eat and drink well: It’s important to understand that overall health encompasses a variety of practices, and eating healthy food and drinking water is definitely one of the most important habits you can have to feel good. Following a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits and proteins, alongside drinking 8 cups of water every day, can do wonders for your mental state.
10. Talking it out with the right support: While these are all solid ways to stay proactive about your self-care, it’s also important to know you don’t have to navigate through this process alone. Talking to someone in an honest, open way can help get to the root of why you’re feeling stressed so you can figure out together the best way to go about it. Jessica Dubin, LCSW, is a practiced psychotherapist with expertise in treating anxiety and depression, and she’s ready and open to talking with you.
You don’t have to go through your mental health journey alone
Going back to a “normal life”, while considered a happy time, can introduce daunting feelings about returning to your office and facing a new life with a new way of doing things. It’s okay to feel trepidation as you restart in a world that has changed a lot since you left it to go into quarantine.
Jessica Dubin, LCSW, incorporates specialized techniques like Mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy into treating several different types of mental health conditions. She believes the absolute most important thing in life is the authentic journey we create for ourselves, and she is ready to take part and guide you through your personal journey and discovery. She is available for individual therapy in telehealth sessions until further notice. For more information and to make an appointment, visit her website here.