Virtual Working your Wellbeing Matters

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A New Way of Working 

As we move deep into the swing of working from home its time to reflect on what is working and what is becoming more of an issue for us as we establish a new “normal”.

By now the technology is in place, plenty of virtual meetings, both serious and fun, should have taken place and a new routine established following the principles of an established routine, separate work and home times, and some degree of self-care.

The world has also moved on, with increasing restrictions on movement, less access to support networks from increased social isolation and difficulties getting normal food items and shopping, so it’s more and more feeling like a world out of control.

In some ways this gives us a real insight into how it feels to live with anxiety and depression on a day to day basis. Those of us who are fortunate enough to enjoy good mental health are starting to experience some of the symptoms experienced by friends, family and colleagues who struggle with mental health in normal times, and for whom the current situation must be additionally difficult.

So how can we identify the symptoms and unhelpful thinking which is making us feel anxious?, and can we use some of the techniques and tools used in managing anxiety in a cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) session to address the situation and keep us on track?.

In simple terms when managing anxiety in CBT, the approach is to control what we can, and find a way
of living with what we can’t.

So here are some of the most common “faulty thinking” traits (or cognitive distortions as we would clinically say) that we see and are relevant to the current situation, and some tips for dealing with them if you feel they apply to you:

Catastrophising – so when we catastrophise we imagine that the worst that can happen, will happen. Whilst at the moment it is true that we are in an unprecedented time, it’s also true that most people
who get the virus only get mild symptoms and recover. That is not to make light of the tragic deaths, but it is not helpful at an individual level to focus on a “worse case scenario”. Instead think about what is likely to happen, and what is within your control. So all the measures around staying at home, social distancing, good hygiene, keeping well physically and mentally, are within your control and are your best defence.

Mental filtering – here we only pay attention to certain types of evidence and ignore others. So
typically if you have a tendency to catastrophise you will do this too – for example viewing “bad news
stories” which support our catastrophic views as being the truth, rather than taking a measured, realistic and more scientific view, and being able to separate facts from a reliable source from opinion and poorly constructed theories. To counter this you should limit your intake of information. You will need essential facts to help you undertake your work and manage your life, so by all means check the daily PM’s bulletin and a reliable scientific site such as Govt Information for the public but outside of this do what you can to limit your news feed, and especially where the content is outside of your control. Block or temporary “unfriend” people in your social media circles who are sharing
material which is not helping – they won’t know, and you can reconnect with them later. Don’t feel bad
about this – your mental health is more important and you need to do what you can to preserve it.

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