The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has affected people in different ways – in their symptoms if they catch it, as well as socially and economically. However, something that almost everyone can relate to is the disruption to daily life due to COVID restrictions and lockdowns, often applied at short notice.
This can lead to worry and anxiety stemming from feeling a loss of control. Plans have been made and then rearranged once, twice or thrice before being cancelled altogether. Businesses have furloughed employees, un-furloughed them or started redundancy consultation, only to find out that the furlough scheme has been resurrected and will last until the end of March next year.
The nature of a pandemic is that things change, sometimes daily, to protect health and the economy. That said, continued disruption to daily life can take a toll on mental health and well-being.
Finding routine amongst the chaos can help you, and those working in your business, to stay focused on important tasks. It will also help keep stress to a minimum.
How routine helps with mental health
Routine, however small, can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. It can prevent the mind from anxiously racing by keeping it occupied and focused.
That’s not to say that you need to be busy all of the time. A well-balanced routine will include regular breaks to allow a reset and avoid burnout.
Finding a routine that works can help with time management and task completion, whether it’s for work or home life. Otherwise, procrastination can lead to tasks piling up. A seemingly unachievable task list can cause stress during an already difficult time.
There are physical health benefits that can be gained through routine too. Daily exercise and a disciplined sleeping schedule are known to both boost health and well-being.
Routines you can implement in your business now
Thinking about your business and people management, consider any routines that are already in place, and if they may need adapting for the current climate.
For example, moving regular meetings online but making them shorter to avoid “zoom fatigue”, or hosting an online game on a Friday afternoon to make up for social distancing.
To help provide structure for employees working remotely, there are other routines you may like to introduce. A quick meeting can be helpful to open the workday and address any urgent business, or you may prefer an end-of-day meeting to wrap up and encourage staff to log out on time.
Furloughed employees may lose track of time with their usual work routine on hold, but their mental well-being is still a priority. You may like to engage them with a suggested timetable of activities during furlough. This could involve a daily walk, a weekly catch-up with furloughed co-workers, virtual book club or scheduled training opportunities.
Just make sure that they are not doing any work for you whilst furloughed through the Job Retention Scheme, as this is against the rules and comes with penalties.
Spotting the signs of struggle
We all have rituals and routines that we do each day that have usually been instilled since childhood.
For example, getting dressed and brushing your teeth are likely to be unconscious habits that you don’t even really think about doing.
When someone is struggling with depression or another form of poor mental health, this may not be the case. Tasks that should require little effort can feel challenging, whilst losing daily routine can worsen the situation.
As an employer, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with mental health warning signs such as these, as they can help you to identify when an employee is in need of additional support.
If you have questions on managing workplace well-being or would like to discuss how you can introduce adapted routines in your business at this time, please contact us.