Stress

Managing Stress during COVID-19

The pace in which changes have been implemented has been overwhelming for many people.  Some people manage to cope with this pretty well; however, many others simply feel helpless, hopeless, or fearful. Directors and senior managers are concerned about the future of their business while the staff is worried about their future job security.  The first thing to remember is that you have no control over what has happened; however, you do over how you respond to it.

Here are some tips that could help you get through this period: 

PERSONAL/WORKING FROM HOME 

  • Do not sit glued to the TV or other news/social media, as this can be depressing and non-stop. Stress working from home
  • Create a device-free hour (or longer) every day or a device-free day/days every week.
  • If you are working from home, ensure your work station is safe and will not cause future problems for your neck, wrists, or backs.  You can download the free HSE Display Screen Equipment Checklist here.
  • Try not to do everything, like our chap here in the photo.
  • Sign up for some free exercise classes that you can do to replace our gym outing or take it up for the first time (it can also be a family activity and be great fun)
  • Open your windows and allow fresh air and for many, this maybe is for the first time, especially if you live in a city and traffic numbers have sharply declined.
  • If you have lost your job, now might be the time to think about what you want to do and look at how you can retrain or upskill.  Many universities and teaching institutes are offering free courses and workshops.
  • Meditation is not for everyone; try and find a practice that will take your mind off what is going on, e.g., reading.
  • Check out free courses for hobbies that you have put on hold for years, e.g., photography, art, learn an instrument
  • If working from home, take regular breaks, chat with colleagues on messenger or similar, and have virtual meetings using Zoom/Teams/Go to Meeting to keep you motivated.
  • Watch your eating habits; it is tempting to keep opening the fridge door, but if you are working from home, make your lunch up and stick to it.
  • Talk to trusted friends/family about how you are feeling, even write your feelings down.  You may want to keep a journal.
  • Recognise what triggers feelings of anxiety or angst and see how you can eliminate them.
  • If you are working from home, dress as if you are going to the office and create a workspace solely for that purpose.

BREATHING TECHNIQUES

Sit or lay in a comfortable position.

  • Breathe in whilst counting to four, hold it for four and then let it go counting to four orJust breathe photo of works for stress management
  • Breathe in counting to four and let it go counting to six or
  • Breathe in slowly pulling your shoulders up to your ears and then drop them quickly whilst breathing out
  • Put a lit candle in front of you.  Slightly open your eyes to watch the flame, put your tongue behind your top teeth and breathe normally, try this for 3 minutes and build up to say an hour (or if more then great)

FOR BUSINESSES

  • Contact your local LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) to see what grants or funding is available for you.
  • Look on the websites of the  Chamber of Commerce to find out the latest news affecting businesses.
  • There are plenty of online networking events happening, join them, keep in touch.
  • Ensure staff knows that this is not a holiday period and create your Work from Home rules.
  • Look at your product base, can this be taken online, if not, then look at how you can communicate with them until this lockdown is over, e.g., create podcasts, videos on products, how to use products, FAQ etc.
  • Now would be the time to create surveys or send out questionnaires to customers.
  • Can you create an online booking system for appointments or shop for your products?
  • If you offer one to one appointments, can you take these online?
  • Look at offering free introductory workshops or free advice clinics.
  • If your business is already online, now is the time to look at advertising online, sending out newsletters, emails, plan your communications for the next 3 months (if not longer).
  • There are plenty of online networking events happening, join them, keep in touch.
  • Now might be a good time for data cleansing exercise.
  • Now might also be a good time to revisit your website, add or update content, ensure all links are working, etc.
  • If you already know your customer profile, use this to look for similar types of customers to contact either now or to contact in the future.
  • Increase your lead list for when you are back up and running.
  • If your office is empty, who is checking on your premises, servers, etc. and have you turned the water off?
  • Create your plan for when this is over, what do you need to focus on?

IDENTIFYING STRESS 

There are a number of ways in which we can identify stress, not only in ourselves but in others.  The most common ones with employees are:

  • Increased absenteeism
  • Decreased motivation

On a personal basis, this can manifest in:

  • Lose interest at work
  • Reduced quality of work
  • Tearful and/or irritable
  • Increase sickness
  • Pains in the body

This is not good for them, or your business and will result in them not promoting your brand and not taking opportunities to cross-sell or upsell.  You will face larger HR costs, and their low morale may affect how customers view your company, particularly if they are in front of house positions such as reception or sales.  We have all met them, the person who really does not want to be in the job but is there anyway.  In the UK alone, there were over 600,000 people off sick in 2019, which amounted to 12.8m days, which, according to the Workforce Labour Survey, amounted to £15bn lost in salaries and production.  I imagine this number will increase tremendously in 2020.

At this time, it might be helpful to look at:

  • Speak to staff regularly to find out how they are coping, especially if they are working from home.
  • Introduce a sickness management plan, including back to work interviews.
  • Ensure the correct staff is doing the correct job.
  • Ensure you have the correct tools for the job.
  • Say thanks or give praise for jobs well done and do not chastise in front of others.
  • Ensure management staff knows how to manage staff.
  • Look at social events for staff, say in 2021.
  • Ask staff how they would improve their environment.
  • Ask the staff what they would like to see being done to help them work better.

If you need any help with any of the above, I offer a free one-hour online consultation.  Please contact me on 07446 298661 or email june@junemeagher.com