Wellbeing During COVID-19

Step 1 – Recalibrating

You are either working at home or planning to return to your workplace soon, maybe even a blend of the two.  The last twelve weeks or so have been hugely different and disruptive for us all and the next few weeks and months will continue to see significant changes in the workplace.   There is no quick return to how things were.   It will take time to adjust to what is being termed the “new normal” which of course, is not “normal” at all.  There has been hardly a mention of anything else. COVID-19 has been, understandably, a total fixation at the international, national, local and personal level.  It is not over yet; no neat and tidy resolution means that we shall continue to be preoccupied both nationally and internationally.

At the organisational level, business leaders and managers are planning for the safe return to work for you and your colleagues and this is a critical and probably stressful time as they navigate all the health, safety and wellbeing guidelines and requirements, which are regularly evolving, to achieve this.  They will also be concerned about productivity, anxious to get things up and running again and to start to see business performance improving as quickly as possible.

But what about you?

Things have changed and will continue to change.  Our work environment may well have changed, how we do business, how we interact both formally and informally with our colleagues, our managers, our customers will seem so different.

But have you changed, and if so, how are you recalibrating the purpose in your work when there are so many other competing demands and uncertainties?

True, we have been “in this together” and will have a lot of shared experiences, but we are all different and how we now want to take our lives forward, including our working life, is our opportunity and our responsibility.

First, we want to focus only on you, as an individual, and encourage you to think about how things are for you, right now.

What do you feel about “work” now?

Are you keen to get back to how things were, if so, what did you most value about your work then?

Are you keen for things to be different, if so, what changes do you want to make and why?

In your list of priorities for your life in the future, where does “work” now sit?

When momentous events turn our lives upside down it is tempting for us to just want to return to “normal”, and forget it ever happened, but sometimes we may realise such events change our perception of ourselves and of what we want for the future.    We can use these events as a “defining moment” if we want to – but that decision is ours and ours alone.

What matters is that we face the future with a sense of purpose and hopefulness. We could all be forgiven right now for feeling anxious, fearful, unsure of what the future holds for us.

And it is not always easy to stay positive when faced with uncertainty and change.  But maintaining an optimistic perspective and seeing things in a positive framework is very helpful to our organisation and just as importantly improves our own wellbeing.   We have been through a lot and it’s important that we look after ourselves and do everything we can to enhance our personal wellbeing.

I return to the subject of earlier blogs on personal resilience and that we can train ourselves to think and behave differently.  Neuroscience (the scientific study of the nervous system and brain) is beginning, through MRI scanning technology, to provide deeper insights into the workings of our brain and the brain’s ability to change.    If we think of our ‘whole’ selves, our brain, body and emotions are connected. What this means simply is that our thoughts can affect how we feel which in turn affect how we behave.    We can think our way to a more positive frame of mind which then impacts on our wellbeing.

During this return to the ‘new normal’ work period, we can create new neural pathways (beneficial habits) by training the brain to think in a new way which could be as easy as going for a walk every day or standing up when on the telephone to give your back a rest and stretch, or even to reduce negative thoughts, which can often be automatic. By nurturing a positive mindset, we can avoid over-reaction or knee-jerk resistance, nip these thoughts in the bud and focus on positive thinking.  We know that personal wellness is greatly improved by positive thinking just as organisational optimism will help companies face the future with confidence.

As you return to the workplace, to the full schedule ahead, to meeting up with colleagues, suppliers, customers again, try out being attentive, more fully focused on what you are hearing and seeing.   Listen to your own thoughts and to your voice and teach yourself to be present in that moment.  Hold on to those moments and give yourself time to think about things carefully.  This is an important time for you, use it to recalibrate your priorities.

Over this series of Returning to the Workplace articles you will have the opportunity to determine what you want and how to return to your workplace with a new sense of energy, purpose, clear on what is important and what is expected of you, determined to also achieve what matters for you, willing and able to contribute to making things happen for you, your family, and your workplace.   Work through things methodically, mindfully and visualise and plan your future.

This is an important time, and for some it will be a crossroads, to take control.

These articles are designed to be helpful, use them if you wish to reflect, to recalibrate and to recharge

If you would like to discuss the relevance to your organisation, please call us