'Stay silly, stay in touch, write it down' – mental health tips for working from home

As a qualified psychotherapist and agency MD, I’ve been struck over the past few days by the need to balance ‘business as usual’ (as much as possible when we’re all working from home) with the importance of taking care of our own – and our people’s – mental and emotional wellbeing.

'Stay silly, stay in touch, write it down' – mental health tips for working from home

Last week I was talking to a client about their revised priorities in the current climate. The first on the list was ‘take care of yourselves and your families’. This came from the UK GM of a huge brand who appreciated that, while there remains important business that needs to be done, it comes second to the need to look after people’s physical and mental health.

This balance between work and wellbeing is not an easy one to strike at the best of times, let alone during this unprecedented situation. What do you do when everyone is dispersed?

Here are three things I’d recommend:

1. Stay silly

At these times it’s easy to succumb to a total sense of doom and gloom. But it's not also not hard to find great humour, spirit and creativity all around us. I’ve lost count of the number of brilliant memes, videos and photos that I’ve received over the past few days that have made me laugh even at the most difficult times. We even have a recording of corona-inspired showtunes and are sharing them on a work group chat every day. Laughter is definitely the best medicine (at least, while we all wait for a vaccine to arrive).

2. Stay in touch

Thanks to the ubiquity of Zoom, Slack, WhatsApp etc, there have never been more ways for us all to stay in touch from the safety of our homes. And all these tools are imperative to helping people come together and get the job done.

But when the working day is done (and it absolutely needs to be done and not bleed into the evening), it’s important to stay in touch with friends and loved ones, too. A quick message, a long phone call, whatever it might be to share how you are, how you’re feeling and ask how they’re feeling too. I’ve heard a lot about ‘communication is key’ during these times, and that’s just as applicable outside of work as it is inside.

3. Write it down

I’ve seen – and experienced – at first hand the power of writing down your thoughts and feelings. It doesn’t have to be every day and it doesn’t have to be pages and pages, but I’ve found that the act of putting on paper your fears, anxieties, lowlights and so on does an awful lot to dispel their power. And it doesn’t need to just be the difficult emotions – it can also be a good way of reminding yourself about the positive things that have happened during the day.

Greg Jones is managing director of Engine Mischief

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