With the country in lockdown, it’s more important than ever to look after yourself and support your friends, family and colleagues. We all react to change differently. But as we come to terms with a new and unique set of circumstances, anybody could feel isolated to a degree.

deed, no-one is immune to feelings of isolation. It’s important to understand that everyone’s situation and response is unique. Everyone has different ways of coping, so it’s important to be kind and patient with others.

Remember that you might not know the full story about what a person is going through in their personal lives, so empathy is important. Here are some top tips for dealing with isolation during these challenging times.

  1. Stay connected

Working from home can make you feel very detached, especially if your role doesn’t require you to attend many meetings. So, it’s important to have regular virtual check-ins with colleagues and teams. Book a regular amount of time in the diary throughout the week to check in with your team or colleagues. At Willis, we’re using Microsoft Teams which has been a great addition to our IT capability or organise a conference call by telephone. Work doesn’t always have to be a discussion point. It’s important to ask people how they’re feeling and have conversations about wellbeing.

  1. Maintain a balance

Being on lockdown means you no longer have a commute – yeh!! But the downside is we can’t go out to socialise. With more time on our hands, it’s easy to fall into the trap of working longer hours and taking fewer breaks when working from home.

  • Try to maintain a positive work-life balance and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
  • Put reminders in your diary when you plan to finish work and be sure to break for lunch.
  • Use your lunch break to get some fresh air.
  • Have a daily walk if you can or spend time in the garden if you have one.
  • Try to put some time in for a daily workout if you’re able to.
  • Make time to speak to family and friends.
  • Use your evenings and weekends to learn something new.
  1. Get additional support

If you are struggling with feelings of isolation or anxiety you’d benefit from additional support. You could complete a Wellness Action Plan (WAP) which could be several activities that will help you e.g. exercise, reading baking etc. You can keep updating and referring to your plan during 1-2-1s with your line manager. Plans aren’t only for those who struggle with mental health – they can benefit anyone. You’ll simply have practical steps in place to ensure you’re supported when you aren’t feeling great. If you need to talk to someone, there are also helplines to call if you’re struggling with your mental health as a result of isolation from one of our providers. Your manager can direct you if necessary.

  1. Take advantage of technology

Use communication/collaborative working platforms to connect with your colleagues and work together. Switch things up with a telephone call or video call so you can see someone face to face. Use our personal technology tools to maintain your social life. Whether it’s saying hi over a cup of coffee or hosting a virtual dinner party at the weekend, video calling allows you to see people’s reactions and feel like you’re in the same room. Speak to friends and agree a date, just as you would for a face-to-face meet-up, so you have something to plan and look forward to.

  1. Make your own good news

Balance the need to stay well informed against the constant barrage of anxiety-inducing headlines by creating a ‘good news’ WhatsApp group with friends or colleagues. You might share something small like a new recipe you’ve just tried or a photo that made you smile. Whatever it is, it’ll give you things to talk about other than coronavirus. Laughter is an incredible mood booster. You could share a funny story that’ll make your friends and family laugh. Not only will you pass some time making them, you’ll have fun too.

  1. Keep moving

Exercising will help you feel better, in both mind and body. Going to a gym or your regular fitness class may not be possible, but you can still get active at home without the need for any special equipment. Exercises like press-ups, squats, lunges and burpees require nothing more than your bodyweight and will really get your heartrate going. YouTube tutorials are available for exercises like yoga and circuit training. Have a look for one that you like which uses the equipment you have available. It’s important that it’s enjoyable and within your physical capabilities, so start off with something basic and follow any medical guidance necessary. Healthy lifestyle advice is available on the NHS Live Well page.

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