In September 2018, the ABC’s hit documentary series Australian Story tracked ...
With countries and regions around the world experiencing second, and in some cases third, COVID-19 waves, we’ve put together this checklist of expert recommendations and advice to help our people deal with the reintroduction of lockdown measures.
1 Eat well
There’s some proof to the old adage, you are what you eat. Maintaining a good diet helps promote a healthy and strong immune system – important at any time, but particularly during a global pandemic.
A wide range of vegies, fruit and healthy snacks including nuts, cheese and yoghurt should feature in a healthy diet. Watch your sugar intake – sugar is known to suppress the immune system. It’s also important to make sure you stay hydrated and keep your fluid intake up.
Hear from Port Adelaide Football Club’s dietitian Emily Hartley, on the tips she shares with professional Australian Football players and how they can relate to you.
2 Sleep well
Good quality sleep also has a role in your overall health and wellbeing. Poor sleep can impact, memory, mood, relationships and your health.
The World Sleep Society recommends these steps for adults:
- Set a bedtime and a waking time
- If you are in the habit of taking naps, do not exceed 45 minutes of daytime sleep
- Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol ingestion four hours before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine six hours before bedtime. This includes coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate
- Avoid heavy, spicy, or sugary foods four hours before bedtime. A light snack before bed is ok
- Exercise regularly, but not right before bed
- Use comfortable bedding
- Find a comfortable temperature setting for sleeping and keep the room well ventilated
- Block out all distracting noise and eliminate as much light as possible
- Do not use the bedroom as an office or work room
If you’re having trouble sleeping – or still feeling tired after sleeping, you might like to consider seeking medical advice.
3 Build mental fitness and look after your mental health
To say 2020 has been a challenging year is an understatement. COVID-19 has disrupted many habits that had long been part of our daily lives.
While resilience measures how well you bounce back from adversity, mental fitness includes this but is also about staying in tip-top condition so that your wellbeing is at high levels even when no adversity is present.
Resilience focuses on the outcome – getting to a particular level of ability to cope with knock-backs, whereas mental fitness focuses on improvement and identifies the inputs that you are able to control. This ensures you’re improving and protecting your wellbeing starting from wherever you are now.
Habits to increase your mental fitness during COVID-19:
• Stay connected – call rather than email, utilise digital platforms to stay connected with your colleagues, family and friends, and use videos not just audio during the calls.
• Regular breaks – schedule in regular breaks as it can be tempting when working from home to not take time out. It is important to step away from your desk during your breaks and don’t look at anything work related. Try enjoying a cup of tea in the garden, call a friend for a quick chat or do some stretches.
• Create a routine including ways to unwind/decompress at the end of the day – for some of us the commute home is an important way to end our work days or to prepare us to enter our next job which may be as a parent, partner, carer etc. Try to find ways to ensure you are still getting that critical time, for example go for a walk outside after you shut down your computer, or work on your balcony or back yard. If you don’t have a lot of time, doing a 10-minute relaxation/meditation before leaving your work space can help you get ready for your next role. Dr Adam Fraser’s concept of ‘the Third Space’ is a must-see on this topic, check out his short explainer video below.
GFG Alliance is also running the I am Here programme in a number of countries. The programme focuses on building a culture of care and providing employees with tools and strategies to focus on their wellbeing but also – importantly – to be able to support others.
Learn more about the programme – click here: https://spoke.gfgalliance.com/building-a-culture-of-care/
4 Get physical
Physical activity helps release the ‘feel good’ hormones – endorphins. It also helps reduce risk of injury.
More than 45% of our injuries and illnesses in 2020, relate to musculoskeletal disorders. With some lockdown and preventative measures restricting the ways in which we can keep active – including in some cases bans on community and organised sport, gym closures and curfews restricting time that can be spent outdoors – it’s important to find other ways to keep physical conditioning and mobility in order.
Taking regular walking breaks, if possible, around your backyard or nearby streets is a good way to maintain cardiovascular fitness. There are also a number of free online and virtual exercise offerings.
The UK National Health Service also has a series of free online exercise programs, covering aerobic fitness to strength and resistance training, on its website. Click here to access the programs: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nhs-fitness-studio/
It’s also important to stretch adequately to ensure you keep injury-free.
Check out Danny Buberis, Athletic Development and Rehabilitation Coordinator for the Port Adelaide Football Club, as he shares tips and demonstrations on stretching and keeping injury-free at work and home.
AXIS Physiotherapy also offers these short videos on stretching and strengthening exercises for those who spend a lot of time in desk-based work.
Try this 20-minute full body yoga stretching sequence for beginners.
5. Make your home work area ergonomically sound
Having a properly set up workstation and chair, that minimises placing stress on the body, keeping your forearms parallel to the floor and monitor/computer screen at eye level can minimise risk of strains and repetitive injury.
Maintaining good lighting and ventilation, and ensuring any power cables and leads are safely stowed also minimises risk of injuries.
Check out the expert recommendations in this previous SPOKE article: https://spoke.gfgalliance.com/creating-a-comfortable-home-office/
6. Establish a routine, maintain connection
It’s worth considering how adjustments to your daily routine and behaviours can support health and wellbeing in the long term.
Building some regular exercise and social connection into your daily routine are just some of the strategies that can help people cope with change.
It’s important to find a routine that works for you and your circumstances. Maybe you prefer to exercise at lunch time, or perhaps you live alone and the perfect time for some socialising is a chat with your neighbour after work.
Using available digital technologies is a great way to keep a sense of connection with colleagues, family and friends. Opting for regular video calls, instead of audio calls, also helps alleviate the sense of loneliness and distance.
7. Keep your cool if the kids are at home instead of school
Trying to stay on top of your work and supporting your kids learning, if they are doing a prolonged home-learning stint can be stressful for all.
Clinical psychologist Andrew Fuller says the most important thing for parents or carers in this position is to remember they are the parent/carer – not the teacher.
“Your children need you in your usual supportive role, he says. “Now is not the time to give pep talks about hard work, structured study times or critiquing their efforts.”
“This is an opportunity to strongly connect with your children and let them have no uncertainty that you believe in them.”
Learn more about Andrew’s Big 3 tips for parents overseeing home learning:
8. Maintain good online habits and stay safe online
With more time spent connecting with others using digital technologies, its important to make sure you’re taking steps to protect yourself, GFG and your family.
Good digital habits and behaviours go a long way to making your online experience a positive one. The Australian eSafety Commissioner has released these three key principles.
1. Engage positively: Be aware of your own behaviour, respect others and know how to take action to protect yourself.
2. Know your online world: Understand how to use technology and devices with confidence, protect your digital footprint and take action if your privacy is breached.
3. Choose consciously: Be aware that you are in control of your digital and online behaviours and decision-making. Think before your share information with others and understand your comments and published content can be cached online and last forever.
A note about passwords
Maintaining good online security for both work and personal digital activity starts with having a ‘smart’ password.
The longer or more intricate it is with a combination of letters, numbers, symbols and capitals, the more difficult it is for hackers to ‘crack’.
9. Maintain good online meeting etiquette
There are some basics you can follow to ensure good online meeting etiquette.
Letting people in your household know when you’re having meetings so they can keep background noise down, and stay out of shot on videoconferences, helps keep distractions down.
Be mindful of what is showing in the background of your videoconference calls, sticking to an agenda and building in some pauses to allow others to speak and respond are important – particularly when you don’t have direct face to face visibility.
10. Be empathetic
These are uncertain times and people respond to challenges differently. Along with staying on top of work, our colleagues may be juggling additional caring and home-schooling duties, supporting friends or family who may have lost work, adjusting to altered routines and all this while processing and managing their own anxiety levels.
Be prepared to cut your colleagues some slack. Check-in with colleagues who suddenly exhibit changes in behaviour.
If you are a leader, support your team by thinking about when you schedule meetings and calls. It might mean avoiding early morning meetings if you have people in your team who have children and/or home-schooling responsibilities. Think about working slightly different hours to allow people in your team to build in some physical activity through their day, or complete tasks like shopping for groceries in non-peak times.