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What steps can you take to preserve mental resilience and support a team when working from home during a crisis?

15th April 2020

By practicing daily wellbeing and resilience techniques, personal to you, you can create more clarity of thought and engage calmly and creatively with others, both personally and professionally. And of course, take better care of your emotional, mental and physical health. With compassion and strength, you will be in a better position to help support you team, your family and friends, as well as mindfully appreciating yourself for your hard work and commitment. It all begins with a little self-care and acknowledgement!

At present, we as a whole globe are living through extraordinary times, trying to understand, grapple with and overcome the Covid-19 Virus. With so many people out of work or working from home, some furloughed or living off reduced wages, these are incredibly challenging and let’s face it, scary times! With such a lot of uncertainty, insecurity and having to take things literally day by day, it may all start to feel overwhelming. When managing a team and coping with the distress and angst of others we might feel an added responsibility and it could start to feel like a very lonely place; particularly as there are no easy answers or solutions.

Considering your personal well-being and resilience practice at this time may well feel elusive, and understandably so, yet it’s precisely this time and through this practice that a little salvation will be found.

For all of us:

Sleep
Professor Russell Foster, a circadian neuroscientist form Oxford University explains how incredibly important it is to work with your circadian rhythms and have as restful a night as you possibly can. Sleep is a vital component to your overall wellbeing and resilience. Pay attention your ‘self’ and looking after yourself by limiting your news intake, particularly before bed, as it’s definitely not conducive to a good night’s sleep, take time to wind down.

Breathe
Whether in a family unit or living alone take those moments and slow down your breathing, take longer out breaths and acknowledge that these moments are just for you to recharge can help.  Maybe put your hand on your heart, hum or sing a calming soothing song that will help to bring restoration. Soften your thoughts to the here and now, listen for any sounds like the birds singing outside and the stiller roads creating cleaner air and pay conscious attention to your precious breath. Understanding that with each inhalation you are recharging every cell in your body and with each exhalation you are cleansing your body, breathing ever more deeply into the bottom of your lungs with clean fresh air.  Find a soothing rhythm to your breath.

Scientific studies have found that the longer the out breath the more soothing effects there are on our parasympathetic nervous system, also known as our rest and digest system. Breathing in for 4, hold for 4 and out for 6, or as long as you can breathe out for. Utilize YouTube to search for Vagus Nerve breathing exercises or ‘Breathing’ under Lotus Development and Learning. Breathe mindfully with the awareness that you are recharging yourself to better cope with ever changing circumstances.

Laugh
Giving yourself things to laugh at helps, laughter is known to flood our bodies with ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters which will help our brains think more creatively and clearly whilst combatting stress and anxiety.

Eat Good Food and Drink Water
Eat good food, drink plenty of water and minimise substances like alcohol, cigarettes and other self-medicating habits; these may feel needed and even deserved, but in excess, they are actually working against your wellbeing and preventing you from thinking and seeing creative, collaborative opportunities and maintaining positive communication and relations.

Exercise
Exercise in a way that you enjoy! Perhaps blast out joyful music and dance around the kitchen, whether on your own or with your family, give yourself permission and saviour feeling good! Take time away from thinking! It will engage your muscles in joyful movement and flood your system with feel good chemicals which help to restore your inner psyche.

Practice Gratitude
Count your blessings, you will find them! Mindfully feel thankful for all that you have, even during this very difficult time. I personally have a large white rock that I place in my home in different rooms each week. I call it my Gratitude Rock. Whenever I see it, I remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for. It’s a great leveller and tonic to life’s stresses. I’ve had it for many years but during this global challenge I am especially taking solace from it.

Take time and make time for yourself!
If you’re living with family in lockdown, particularly with small children, who need your attention more, this may present as a difficulty so get creative with your time. When you are living at home with a family you may feel a sense of being pulled in all directions and apprehensive at the possibility to find time for your workload and family commitments let alone time for yourself. Yet the benefits will greatly improve your ability to manage and cope with it all! So, where can you find those moments for yourself? Well, even if you just take a few extra minutes when you use the bathroom, take a shower or a calming bath; any moment that you can find, make the most of it and use it mindfully.

Working from home when you live alone can present contrasting difficulties, maybe loneliness and possible feelings of isolation. Some people might absolutely cherish the quiet time. We are all different, and our needs vary person to person but also moment to moment, so we should all try to pay attention to our needs and listen to ourselves, through our thoughts and emotions and act accordingly.

For Managers:

You are not alone!
During these extraordinary times there are remarkable people making very painful decisions that will inevitably have repercussions on others’ lives and security. This can feel overwhelming and present inner struggles that if left unaided could cause mental and emotional difficulties in the present moment or further down the line. A different kind of toll is taken on the wellbeing of managers as they must make decisions that will reach far wider than a phone call or video chat. There are practical things we can do to help ourselves which will inevitably benefit us and those around us.

Staff Wellbeing
Various studies have shown that our behavior and actions are contagious and ripple out to the people we come into contact with, I’m particularly reminded of one such talk by Vanessa King from Action for Happiness on this topic, so, when we practice and pay attention to our own wellbeing, those benefits will effect and reach farther than we may possibly ever imagine, simply by showing compassionate leadership especially during such arduous times.

With absolute acknowledgement that we are all living in different types of home environments and they all present differing challenges and opportunities for practicing wellbeing during Lockdown; I’m going to ask you, just for this moment, to put your ‘blocking brain’ to one side, if indeed, it’s trying to tell you reasons you ‘can’t do’ and just stay open to suggestions, inner wisdom and personal ideas of what you ‘can do’ that will aid and support you!

Centre Yourself
It’s important to remember that none of us are omnipotent! We cannot take on or solve everyone’s distress even when we may feel like we’ve had a hand in it through having to make a difficult choice or give bad news that will effect someone’s life. But we can help to signpost them and advise them, even if we are unable to do anything to physically help, we can hear them fully and compassionately as they voice their concerns, whilst holding our own feelings with compassionate kindness at this very difficult time.

Before you make or take a challenging call, give yourself a moment to breathe at least one to three cycles. This will help to centre yourself, as previously explained, the breath will help to calm you, enabling clarity of thought and perspective (something we could all do with more of at present). Whatever your call or video call is about you will be working from a much more balanced and compassionate place.

Take a moment to reassure yourself that these are mammoth moments in time, unprecedented and ‘you’ are doing the best job that you can under these extraordinary circumstances. Offer yourself some perspective by reminding yourself that other people are also out there doing their very best to cope and navigate through totally uncharted territory.

It’s important to remind yourself that no matter what challenge you’re facing during Lockdown, you are not alone. Reflect on this, take comfort in it.

In Conclusion

Practicing wellbeing and resilience during this time is far more than blobbing on the sofa and watching Netflix! (Though this certainly does have its place!) It’s about checking in with yourself, taking the time to listen to your own needs. Turning off all technology sometimes and listening to the birds singing in clearer skies. It’s about putting on a piece of music that transcends you, enriches and uplifts you. It’s about being creative with finding the things that personally bring you joy and optimism. If you live alone then creatively connect with those people who lift your spirits, who make you laugh, mindfully choosing who to speak to and when.

Most importantly in this time keep yourself and others safe and feel a deep sense of assuredness that this will eventually pass and there will be a renewed sense of connection and resilience throughout the world.

 

By Rachel Pink (Wellbeing & Resilience Consultant & Trainer), Lotus Development and Learning.

Lotus Development and Learning share cutting edge scientific findings and age-old beliefs to help others rise above their struggles to find a happier more peaceful way of living through life’s struggles. Rachel will be running a wellbeing webinar for Music Mark in May. 

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