How to manage COVID-19 stress & anxiety

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

April 03 2020

With the world in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more important than ever to look after ourselves and each other.

And while we should all follow NHS and government guidance to protect our physical health, we can’t neglect our mental health.

Everyone is adapting as best they can to a rapidly changing situation—us included. So we, as employers, should honour our duty of care to our staff and keep an eye on how they’re coping.

Coronavirus & common signs of stress

  • Becoming quiet and withdrawn.
  • Slipping work standards.
  • Taking more sick days.
  • Poor timekeeping.
  • Becoming short-tempered or irritable.
  • Physical complaints like headaches, nausea, tiredness or heart palpitations.

In person, the signs of stress should be quite easy to spot. But now, it’s likely that your staff either work for home or are on lay-off or furlough.

Check in with them regularly to make sure they’re okay. If you have the means to do so, set up video calls. If not, just call, text or email.

You never know, it might do you good, too.

Talking about worries can help you work through them, and even overcome them. And there’s more you can do, and it’s worth sharing the methods with your staff as well…

Combat coronavirus anxiety

First, accept that you’re worried. It’s completely natural at a time like this.

In fact, some experts even suggest setting aside time each day to allow yourself to worry.

By letting your thoughts run wild for around half an hour, it helps to get the worry out of your system so you feel better for the rest of the day.

You could try meditation and practice mindfulness, which is paying attention to the present moment and, according to the NHS, “can improve your mental wellbeing.”

Meanwhile, limit the amount of news you take in. Rather than watching and reading rolling news coverage, try just a daily roundup.

Avoiding the news can be tough, especially as you need to stay informed about anything that affects you, your staff and your business.

But it’s better to focus on the things you can control.

Make a stress management policy

A stress management policy is your business’s plan for tackling stress at work.

Include information on all potential workplace stressors and state the steps you’ll take to cut out or control them.

For example, you could mention that you regularly monitor your remote staff’s hours and overtime to make sure they aren’t overworking.

Remember that the policy applies to everyone in your company and, ultimately, it’s up to you to enforce it and stay within the rules of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

But if you don’t have a policy, it’s a good idea to make one soon to support any workers still on your premises—as well as those working from home. If it’s helpful, think about talking it through with a health & safety expert.

But at the moment, the world is changing so fast. It’s best to deal with it one day at a time.

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