How to stay well at home in lockdown 2.0

The first lockdown of 2020 had a major impact on the nation's mental health, according to a University of Glasgow survey, which questioned over 3,000 adults over the summer and found that suicidal thoughts rose from 8% to 10%.

Now with lockdown 2.0 confirmed for at least four weeks, several health experts have penned an open letter to the Government expressing concerns over 'collateral damage'.

One of the letter's authors, consultant psychologist Dr Keri Nixon (an expert in trauma and domestic abuse) said:

"The lockdown is supposed to prevent deaths from Covid. But it's also certain to cause further deaths, not only from other physical diseases like cancer but from alcoholism, addiction and suicide – which have already been soaring this year. It will also lead to intense loneliness and depression and in older people these are killers, closely linked to poor physical health. Ironically, this will make them all the more vulnerable to Covid."

Social isolation can make existing problems worse

The pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways, from job losses and financial struggles to health worries, relationship strain, loneliness and fear for the future.

For those already experiencing mental health issues, prolonged self-isolation can trigger symptoms and make it harder to seek help. This is why it's so important that, for those still able to work, employers and colleagues look out for each other.

Signs a co-worker might be struggling

According to this helpful resource from mental health charity Mind, some clues that someone is having a hard time include:

  • Changes in behaviour or mood or how they interact with colleagues
  • Changes in their work output, motivation levels and focus
  • Struggling to make decisions, get organised and find solutions to problems
  • Appearing tired, anxious or withdrawn and losing interest in activities and tasks they previously enjoyed.

Wellbeing tips for homeworking during lockdown

1. Set up an ergonomic workstation including an adjustable chair, monitor arms or laptop stand, keyboard and mouse.

2. Stay in touch with co-workers in whichever way you prefer - video, chat, phone, or email.
3. Ask how your co-workers are - conversations don't always have to be about work.
4. Keep up a regular exercise routine to boost your endorphins and reduce your risk of physical health problems.
5. Try meditation or breathing exercise to help you feel calmer.
6. Go outside regularly for fresh air.
7. Try to eat well and limit your alcohol intake.
8. Limit your social media and news usage.
9. If you are struggling with your workload - talk about it with your manager.
10. Consider your work-life balance - know when to switch off.

Many of us will experience heightened stress during this second period of lockdown. The important thing is to stay in communication with co-workers, friends and family, and ask for help if you need it.