If like us, your organization is based in Ontario, you may also be facing a lockdown for the time being. While it’s not ideal, in some ways, working from home this year may be easier than it would have been a year ago. You may have found a good enough spot to work in the house that is far enough from distractions: children, partners, and pets included. Maybe you’ve borrowed an extra monitor from the office to increase your productivity. Perhaps you’ve even splurged on an ergonomic chair. But working from home under the confines of another lockdown also means living and working in isolation, and you may feel your work begin to take a toll on your mental health. So, what can you do to help you and your coworkers cope until the Ontario lockdown ends?
Let’s start with what you can do for yourself.
Working beyond the Ontario lockdown end date
Acknowledge your feelings
Back in early 2021, the word “languishing” was used to encapsulate that feeling of not being able to progress or feel whole. And after reading this article, a lot of people felt more seen and heard than they had before knowing this word. It described what they were feeling and perhaps felt validated in their feelings in response. So, as Dani Blum and
Take it one day at a time
Often, especially under restrictions enforced by the government, and not of our own decision, working from home can feel like a temporary—maybe unfavorable—solution. But working towards the end of the lockdown may not help you feel better, especially if the end is not immediately within sight. Instead, try taking things one day at a time. This may look like using a Pomodoro timer to work on answering emails, and not allowing distractions to peel you from them. Lastly, don’t forget to take your happiness one day at a time, too. If making a good meal, walking the dog on your lunch break, or even appreciating the bit of sun you get from your window makes you happy, that can go a long way.
Reach out and find available resources
There are countless tools available online, some of which we’ve covered in a previous blog post about mental health resources available internationally. In addition to the resources mentioned in this article, we also recommend the Government of Ontario’s website. Here, you can find national, provincial, and municipal resources that cater to different aspects of mental health and those struggling.
When you help yourself, you then provide yourself the means to help others. So, while you’re working on your own coping, look to help those around you, especially if you’re in a position to do so.
Helping others cope until the Ontario lockdown ends
Make check-ins the norm
Daily or semi-regular check-ins with your employees or coworkers can be a game-changer for an organization, especially if you’re in a position of power. Having honest, maybe one-on-one check-ins help connect with employees on a personal level by showing them you care, and that they’re not alone. As well, this will also allow you to recognize what resources they may need. But check-ins don’t have to be invasive, too personal, or involve therapist-style questioning. It can be as simple as asking how someone is truly feeling with working from home, what obstacles they’re currently facing, and what they may need to better cope.
Take a step in mental health programming
This one is more difficult for smaller companies with less budget that can be invested in their workers. Still, mental health programming can be as simple as offering employees sick days when they need a day to recover, not just physically, but emotionally, as well. These “sad days” can be great for relieving stress and fatigue. They may allow your employees to return to work feeling revitalized, especially when burn out and Zoom fatigue grows higher with the passing months. If your company does have the ability to invest in mental health services, online platforms like BetterHelp are great for instant and safe help.
Help fight Zoom fatigue
I think it’s fair to say we’ve all felt Zoom fatigue. In addition to looking at screens all day every day, looking at yourself and feeling the need to put on a big smile or look a certain way can increase stress and anxiety. The best way to combat this is to offer for your employees to turn off their camera during long meetings, in particular. This way, employees will be able to feel comfortable moving from their desk to stand, get a snack, or maybe even sit a bit further from the screen to relieve their eye strain. Lastly, don’t forget that Zoom fatigue is linked with long, exhausting days attached to devices. Encourage your employees to completely disconnect from their devices at the end of the day, and to only return to their work the following work day with fresh eyes. It’s what’s best for everyone involved.
As the new year begins and news outlets begin to focus on when the latest Ontario lockdown ends, remember that you’re not alone in your struggles. Try out any/all of the above techniques, and if you find any of them helpful, make sure to share this post with a coworker or friend. Here’s wishing you a prosperous new year, even with all things considered.