Almost half of Ireland’s workers have had their employment circumstances changed by the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than a third now working from home, according to new Central Statistics Office (CSO) data.
And the Government’s recently published ‘roadmap for reopening society and business’ suggests that many of us will continue to work remotely for some time.
With this in mind, we sought advice from the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service (CSEAS) about how workers can keep healthy during this longer-than-expected period of remote working.
Our office routine is not going to be the same when working from home. We have no commute, no physical water-cooler chats, and probably no morning trip to our usual coffee shop.
However, it’s important to think about the parts of our office routine that are beneficial, such as the fresh air we get on our commute, or the break from our desks when we go to the kitchen.
We should find ways to incorporate the healthy parts of our old routines into our new way of living, such as going for a walk in the morning, having a coffee in the garden, or stretching our legs and getting away from our desks for five minutes every so often.
We know that being active is good for our physical health, but our mental health can also see significant benefits. People who engage in regular exercise generally experience an increased feeling of wellbeing, and getting the blood pumping can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of anxiety and depression.
As we get older, keeping active can boost our health in areas such as osteoporosis, reducing blood pressure levels, protecting the heart and protecting against certain cancers.
CSEAS recommends at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five times a week, for all adults. When working from home, it may be helpful to schedule some exercise time into the day.
It is important to remember that at this uncertain time, exercise can help us cope with stress and give us a welcome break from work, as we adjust to our new routine.
There is a tendency to ease up on good eating habits when we feel stressed, isolated, lonely or down. Research shows however, that good nutrition during challenging circumstances actually fortifies us.
CSEAS suggests following a proper diet, sleep and exercise regime, where possible when working from home. Incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables, and keeping on top of our water intake will help with our concentration and general health.
Learning to breathe
CSEAS suggests including other wellbeing habits such as mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises into our routine. In particular, the employee assistance service recommends the ‘7-11 Breathing Exercise’, which involves breathing in through the nose for a count of seven (fill up your tummy with air) and breathing out through the mouth for a count of eleven.
Alternatively, why not take part in virtual mindfulness exercises or join online yoga classes, many of which are currently being offered for free due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Breathing techniques and mindfulness can be useful in decreasing anxiety but, like all new habits, can take a little getting used to. With practice however, they can be part of an overall calmness and wellbeing routine.
More information on the supports offered by the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service can be found here.