Managing mental health and wellbeing during Covid-19: A primer for publishers
One of the most damaging aspects of the Covid-19 outbreak is the psychological impact on people forced to work from home. With the pandemic threatening to stretch out for many more months, managing the mental health of your workforce has become a priority for the publishing industry.
Covid-19 not only attacks us physically and financially, but also wages war on the mind. As those in publishing are forced indoors to work – contending with new technology, home schooling and cabin fever – immense strain is put on their mental health. The true extent of the problem, and ways to cope with the issue, were revealed during the new series of FIPP Insider Webinars, hosted by FIPP President and CEO, James Hewes.
According to Hewes, it’s crucial to manage mental health while working from home, especially since the lockdown could drag on for many months. During this time it’s important to maintain a work-life balance to keep work from taking over. Team managers must be aware that a lot of people are working remotely for the first time and can’t yet absorb home life while also processing work.
Finding a way to manage stress and anxiety that comes with the new working environment is, Hewes said, a team effort. “It’s a two-way process – the individual has the responsibility to say, ‘I’m not comfortable, or don’t understand how the new process is working’, and the team has the responsibility to support everyone and make sure they get the knowledge they need.”
One of the greatest sources of stress is tied to using new technology that comes with working from home.
“People who work remotely feel they might be judged by not being able to do something like check if the audio’s working on a video call,” said Kilian Schalk, founder of PurpleGray Consulting. “In a normal work environment they get dressed and go to the office and present in that way, but now they are presenting through their technical competence. That becomes a source of stress.”
According to Schalk, doing a dry run when it comes to video calling is a way to build up confidence. “People don’t know how they come across on screen so do a test – set up everything and show it to someone else. Just because it’s working for you doesn’t mean it’s working for someone else.”
Maintain your space
An important part of mental wellbeing is maintaining a clean, efficient living space. “Taking care of the space around you creates a sense of calm,” said Schalk. “It’s a way of clearing your mind.”
Ridding yourself of clutter extends to the way a team communicates. With so many forms of staying in contact there’s a danger people could be overwhelmed by a deluge of messages – missing crucial instructions amid the flood.
To avoid this, Hewes suggested setting up a “hierarchy of communication methodologies” whereby, for instance, a real crisis is communicated by text and other updates via email or tech like Teams.
“Over-communicating can be a problem so you have to work out what the company will communicate on,” agreed Schalk. “The more that is understood throughout the organisation, the calmer it gets.”
With no-one knowing just how long the Covid crisis will last, it will be important for teams to pace themselves. “This could be a long period of uncertainty – it’s going to be marathon and not a sprint,” said Schalk. “So find a pace you can sustain and take time off.”
That includes setting time aside for a holiday.
“People need to take vacations, as strange as that sounds during a lockdown, and could all do it at the same time,” said Hewes. “It can be very easy to just continue to work through – and you want to avoid burnout. The idea of a vacation doesn’t stop because you are working from home.”
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How to treat anxiety naturally
Many people have chronic stress and anxiety. They face symptoms such as nervousness, agitation, tension, a racing heart, and chest pain.
In fact, anxiety is among the most common mental health issues. In the United States, more than 18 percent of adults are affected by anxiety disorders each year.
In some cases, another health condition, such as an overactive thyroid, can lead to an anxiety disorder. Getting an accurate diagnosis can ensure that a person receives the best treatment.
In this article, learn about a wide range of natural and home remedies that can help with stress and anxiety.
Natural remedies for anxiety and stress
Natural remedies are generally safe to use alongside more conventional medical therapies.
However, alterations to the diet and some natural supplements can change the way antianxiety medications work, so it is essential to consult a doctor before trying these solutions. The doctor may also be able to recommend other natural remedies.
Exercise is a great way to burn off anxious energy, and research tends to support this use.
For example, a 2015 review of 12 randomized controlled trials found that exercise may be a treatment for anxiety. However, the review cautioned that only research of higher quality could determine how effective it is.
Exercise may also help with anxiety caused by stressful circumstances. Results of a 2016 study, for example, suggest that exercise can benefit people with anxiety related to quitting smoking.
Meditation can help to slow racing thoughts, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. A wide range of meditation styles, including mindfulness and meditation during yoga, may help.
Mindfulness-based meditation is increasingly popular in therapy. A 2010 meta-analytic review suggests that it can be highly effective for people with disorders relating to mood and anxiety.
3. Relaxation exercises
Some people unconsciously tense the muscles and clench the jaw in response to anxiety. Progressive relaxation exercises can help.
Try lying in a comfortable position and slowly constricting and relaxing each muscle group, beginning with the toes and working up to the shoulders and jaw.
Finding a way to express anxiety can make it feel more manageable.
Some research suggests that journaling and other forms of writing can help people to cope better with anxiety.
A 2016 study, for example, found that creative writing may help children and teens to manage anxiety.
5. Time management strategies
Some people feel anxious if they have too many commitments at once. These may involve family, work, and health-related activities. Having a plan in place for the next necessary action can help to keep this anxiety at bay.
Effective time management strategies can help people to focus on one task at a time. Book-based planners and online calendars can help, as can resisting the urge to multitask.
Some people find that breaking major projects down into manageable steps can help them to accomplish those tasks with less stress.
Smelling soothing plant oils can help to ease stress and anxiety. Certain scents work better for some people than others, so consider experimenting with various options.
Lavender may be especially helpful. A 2012 study tested the effects of aromatherapy with lavender on insomnia in 67 women aged 45–55. Results suggest that the aromatherapy may reduce the heart rate in the short term and help to ease sleep issues in the long term.
7. Cannabidiol oil
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a derivative of the cannabis, or marijuana, plant.
Unlike other forms of marijuana, CBD oil does not contain tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, which is the substance that creates a “high.”
CBD oil is readily available without a prescription in many alternative healthcare shops. Preliminary research suggests that it has significant potential to reduce anxiety and panic.
In areas where medical marijuana is legal, doctors may also be able to prescribe the oil.
8. Herbal teas
Many herbal teas promise to help with anxiety and ease sleep.
Some people find the process of making and drinking tea soothing, but some teas may have a more direct effect on the brain that results in reduced anxiety.
Results of a small 2018 trial suggest that chamomile can alter levels of cortisol, a stress hormone.
9. Herbal supplements
Like herbal teas, many herbal supplements claim to reduce anxiety. However, little scientific evidence supports these claims.
It is vital to work with a doctor who is knowledgeable about herbal supplements and their potential interactions with other drugs.
10. Time with animals
Pets offer companionship, love, and support. Research published in 2018 confirmed that pets can be beneficial to people with a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety.
While many people prefer cats, dogs, and other small mammals, people with allergies will be pleased to learn that the pet does have to be furry to provide support.
A 2015 study found that caring for crickets could improve psychological health in older people.
Spending time with animals can also reduce anxiety and stress associated with trauma. Results of a 2015 systematic review suggest that grooming and spending time with horses can alleviate some of these effects.
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