A guide to working from home well-being plans

Working from home combined with the added stress of a global pandemic presents unique challenges to mental well-being. Supporting your team in creating well-being plans whilst working from home will have multiple benefits. A structured plan will help to ensure they remain as mentally well as possible, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing motivation and resilience. As well as demonstrating your commitment to supporting their mental well-being and to continuing to meet health and safety requirements whilst they are working from home.

A mental well-being plan needs to contain five main elements to promote and support mental wellness and to minimise the impact of stressful events.

The five things to consider when putting together a working from home mental well-being plan:

  1. Physiology (what happens in our bodies) Our physiology is linked to our automatic nervous system and at times of high stress and anxiety we can experience a variety of physical symptoms. Working from home also means we are generally more sedentary and may have a disrupted sleep routine. We can counteract the physical effects of stress and working from home by including regular exercise, good nutrition, regular sleep and relaxation techniques in a well-being plan.
  2. Behaviours (how we act in response to additional stress) – When working from home we may be tempted to over eat or drink. Or we may avoid doing certain things or put things off. This is often a sub-conscious attempt to avoid uncomfortable emotions. It can appear to be an easier option when we don’t have the structure and accountability provided by physically going to a workplace. A well-being plan should include positive behavioural responses to stress. For example: time management, boundary setting and goal setting to discourage putting things off. ( well-being goals can also be a helpful addition)
  3. Emotional (how we feel in response to additional stress) – Working from home against the backdrop of a pandemic, can invoke a plethora of difficult emotions. We might feel anxious, irritable, depressed, tired, guilty or any number of other emotions. Some of these may be new and some of them may be heightened by the circumstances. To promote healthier emotions and avoid emotional ‘numbing’ through the behaviours mentioned above, a well-being plan needs to include opportunities whilst working from home for self-care, compassion, connection and communication.
  4. Cognitive (what we think in response to additional stress) – It can difficult to think clearly when working from home, particularly when balancing additional responsibilities or suddenly having less responsibility. We can experience challenges making decisions and concentrating. We may also find we are more forgetful or are thinking more negatively. Making room for forward planning, reflection and celebrating achievements should form part of any well-being plan.
  5. Social (interaction with others) – From an evolutionary perspective human beings are designed to be with other human beings. Studies show that even a small amount of physical contact can have a positive neurological and mental impact. Isolation and working from home will be more difficult for some people than others. Whilst a well-being plan can’t currently include physically meeting other people it can be beneficial to include a plan to meet virtually with other people and to connect with online communities.

It is essential that mental well-being plans are reviewed and updated regularly. Mental well-being isn’t static and can be influenced by a wide variety of factors. Sudden changes, single events or the accumulative impact of stressors over time can all impact the effectiveness of a well-being plan.

If you’d like to know more about how The Peachy Mind can help mental well-being in your workplace or if you’d like to receive a PDF copy of this guide please get in touch, we’d be happy to send you one.