Every year, millions of Americans navigate mental health challenges. For many, the current global pandemic has exacerbated existing conditions, while others are faced with new feelings of anxiety, depression and hopelessness. During these difficult times, the importance of self-care and mental health awareness has become tantamount.

The workplace can provide its own set of mental wellness challenges under normal circumstances. During these unprecedented times, it is essential for organizations to be aware of how their employees may be impacted differently. While businesses work tirelessly to keep operations on track, employees are experiencing heightened stress and anxiety:

With the implications of all of this, it is important to take care of yourself and your employees. Finding self-care strategies are good for both your mental and physical health and are especially important in helping you take care of yourself while working from home.

Helpful Self-Care Strategies:

  1. Maintain social connections virtually
    • Call or text friends
    • Interact with neighbors while maintaining social distancing
    • Have grandparents read to kids over video
    • Host a virtual video happy hour or game night
    • Join a Facebook group or other online community with others in your area or those with similar interests
  2. Try telehealth for virtual doctor’s visits when you can
    • Some plans also include telepsychology and telepsychiatry
  3. Try breathing exercises
    • Deep breathing helps to quiet your mind and reduce anxiety
  4. Sleep
    • Wake up and go to bed at the same times each day
    • Practice turning off devices before bed to help reduce stimulating blue light and to decompress your mind
  5. Eat a balanced diet
    • Limit caffeine as it can aggravate stress
    • Avoid alcohol as a coping mechanism
    • Try to avoid excessively consuming sugars and other junk foods
  6. Set specific times or limiting time devoted to consuming news
    • Limiting exposure can help reduce your possible exposure to fears from rumors and false information
    • Look for reliable sources to stick to
  7. Practice mindfulness
    • Meditation or mindfulness is a great way to help your body relax and recharge
    • Yoga and stretching can help your body physical and is a great way to practice mindfulness
  8. Get outside and exercise
    • Enjoy a walk outside to get a change of scenery while maintaining proper distance and follow all local or state guidelines or rules
    • Exercise and find activities that include movement to help reduce anxiety and improve your mood
      • Many places are offering free online classes or you can find free videos on YouTube to get started
  9. Practice gratitude
    • How you focus your mindset will help set your perspective and mood for the day
    • Write lists of the things you are thankful for
    • Focus on the positive and maintain a sense of hope, instead of dwelling on fear

Recognize Common Stress and Anxiety Symptoms

Irregular or new behavior changes in yourself or others may indicate a change. It is important to be aware and acknowledge struggles with those you trust.

Some common responses to increased stress and anxiety:

+ Changes in sleep or eating patterns

+ Difficulty sleeping or concentrating

+ Worsening of chronic health problems

+ Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

+ Excessive worrying

+ Increased irritability

+ Fatigue

+ Panic attacks

Easing Stress through Communication

As managers, you can help decrease added stress through clear communication. Be ready to listen to your employees, give them space to talk and provide accommodations or flexibility wherever available.

  • Check-in with employees and tell employees how, when and how often they should check in with you
  • Set expectations and be willing to listen to struggles if expectations are not being met
  • If employees are struggling to keep up with workload or expectations, create a plan with them. With children, uncertainty, financial strain and many other factors happening, offer as much flexibility while still meeting job demands
  • Remind each other that communication looks different remotely
  • Provide instructions to employees on how to find in-network care for mental health

Tools and Resources

If you are struggling or someone you know is struggling, there are many resources available to help, even remotely. And please remember, in the case of immediate danger or suicidal thoughts or plans, call 911.

Resources available:

Online tools:

Well-Being Apps for At-Home Use

Mental Health First Aid Basic Tips

Please be advised that any and all information, comments, analysis, and/or recommendations set forth above relative to the possible impact of COVID-19 on potential insurance coverage or other policy implications are intended solely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as legal or medical advice. As an insurance broker, we have no authority to make coverage decisions as that ability rests solely with the issuing carrier. Therefore, all claims should be submitted to the carrier for evaluation. The positions expressed herein are opinions only and are not to be construed as any form of guarantee or warranty. Finally, given the extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, comments above do not take into account any applicable pending or future legislation introduced with the intent to override, alter or amend current policy language.

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