In a matter of weeks, the global economy has been turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations everywhere are entering uncharted territory – especially when it comes to stewarding employees through this time of uncertainty and rapid change. The task of facilitating new policies and support tools for employees will likely fall to benefits and wellness teams. And while this situation is far from ideal, it’s also an opportunity to build new skills that will help you and your workforce adapt to unforeseen challenges during and beyond this global crisis.
Central to that effort will be helping employees manage stress through resilience-based practices. Resilience is defined by the CDC as the ability to withstand and recover from stress. Here are three simple tools you can share with employees to help them build resilience.
Check in with yourself daily
A few times each day, pause to ask yourself “How am I feeling?” Observe for 1-2 minutes what bubbles up. Without judgment, acknowledge each feeling with kindness. There is no rule book for how to feel during a global pandemic. All of us are living through this unprecedented crisis, and will experience stress differently. Offering yourself the same kindness you’d offer a friend can go a long way.
Establish work-life balance with a new routine
If you’re not used to working remotely, the lack of clear separation between work and home can be frustrating at first. Without a commute, how will you wind down and transition to the next phase of your day? On the flip side, what will you do with that extra time you normally spent commuting? No matter what routine you choose, research suggests it will benefit your mental health.
Here’s an example for a 8.5 hour workday plus 2 hours of break time:
- 7:00 – 8:00 am – Wake up, eat breakfast, go outside for a short walk or gentle stretching.
- 8:00 – 10:00 am – Start your workday. Some experts suggest doing your hardest tasks first as a way to boost productivity. Others recommend tackling more creative work in the morning, before your brain is clogged up with noise.
- 10:00 – 10:15 am – Morning break. Refill your water bottle, chat with family or roommates, grab some fruit to munch on.
- 10:15 am – 12:15 pm – Continue working.
- 12:15 – 1:00 pm – Break for lunch, and get some air! Make sure to go outside for at least part of your break. It’s good for you.
- 1:00 – 3:30 pm – Back to work. Don’t forget to check in with colleagues via Slack or other chat platforms – you’re in this together!
- 3:30 – 3:45 – Final break of the day. Go for yet another walk, do three rounds of 10 push ups, have a dance party – anything that raises your heart rate to help re-energize you for the afternoon.
- 3:45 – 5:30 – Last stretch of the work day. You got this!
- 5:30 (or whenever you wrap up) – Spend 10 minutes tidying up your space as a way of mentally putting the work day to rest. Shut down your laptop, clear the table, store any notebooks out of sight so the rest of the evening can be yours.
Move. Your. Body
This is not a groundbreaking suggestion by any means, but it’s simply too important to leave out. Exercise not only reduces the body’s stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol), it also produces endorphins which are natural painkillers and mood elevators. Plus, it can effectively distract you from the day’s worries. Starting a new exercise routine might seem impossible amidst all the turbulence right now. But research suggests that even five minutes of aerobic exercise can produce anti-anxiety effects. In other words, a daily 20 minute walk is probably the biggest bang-for-your-buck when it comes to de-stressing. What are you waiting for?
For more resources on how to help your employees manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19, check out the CDC’s resource page.
And if you’re curious about how Newtopia helps employees build healthy habits that last, email firstname.lastname@example.org