While a percentage of Southeast Michigan’s workforce prepares to transition back into the workplace, many employees don’t anticipate going anywhere soon. If you can operate at full capacity from home, or if you have a pre-existing condition, chances are you will continue to work remotely for the unforeseeable future.
If you have yet to fully adjust to working from home, now is the time to get comfortable. It’s not too late to set up a structured morning routine or start that exercise program. Below are strategies to maintain positive physical, mental, and emotional health and support your community as you continue working remotely.
Whether you are reconnecting with an old passion for running or trying a virtual yoga class for the first time, dedicating 30 minutes of your day toward moving your body will provide positive benefits on your mental and physical health. Benefits include more energy, sharper thinking, reduced anxiety and depression, better sleep, weight management, and reduced risk of disease.
The foods you fuel your body with will influence the strength of your immune system. Immune-boosting foods include vegetables, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds, Greek yogurt, and plenty of water, according to Kelly Nohl, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist at Henry Ford Health System. In contrast, foods that weaken the immune system include sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.
Mental health is suffering during these challenging and uncertain times. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 45% of adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the virus. While daily mindfulness activities can help release built-up anxiety and stress, sometimes professional help is needed. Talking with a therapist or joining a support group can play a significant role in maintaining positive mental health while working from home.
A branch of mental health, emotional health specifically refers to a person’s ability to manage feelings during challenging times and successfully adapt to change, according to the National Institutes of Health. Brightening your outlook on the situation can have positive effects on your emotional health. Instead of holding on to negative feelings or thoughts associated with the pandemic, try re-framing your mindset to focus on the good things that have occurred since quarantine – are you spending more quality time with family? Have you reconnected with an old hobby, discovered a new topic, started a new exercise program, tried a new recipe, or read interesting books?
Community support can be a positive contributor to the health and well-being of our neighbors. While the Stay Safe, Stay Home executive order was lifted, it is still advised you wear a mask in public places. This lowers the chances of spreading the virus throughout your community. If you are participating in the recent reopening of local restaurants, be mindful of keeping your distance from others and follow dine-in guidelines.
Staying connected is another way to foster community health. Check in with your neighbors. Social isolation leads to feelings of loneliness, which is associated with higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, and a negative impact on sleep, explains Nicole Valtora, PhD, an epidemiologist at Newcastle University. These effects can lower one’s immunity to fight off infections and potentially cause health issues.
Employers, you play an important role in helping your employees achieve positive health and well-being. Listen to the concerns of your workforce and allow them to continue working from home if possible. Here are more resources on creating an employee-centered return-to-work plan.