Sunday 7 June, 2020

COVID-19: AMCHAM T&T offers tips for managing mental health

Working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic can have an impact on your overall mental well-being.

Dr. Ishvan Ramcharitar, Chief Medical Advisor at Atlantic and Anthony Watkins, CEO of Odyssey Consulting Limited during a webinar hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce of Trinidad and Tobago (AMCHAM T&T) warned that poor management of remote work situations can even affect family life.

Here are a few ways Dr Ramcharitar and Watkins say you can manage your mental health and wellness while working from home.

1. Social distancing should not mean lack of social interaction: Dr Ramcharitar said employers should encourage video calls and virtual coffee breaks to maintain the social aspect of work.

He suggested beginning meetings by having employees talk about things other than work, as they would do if they were at the office and on a water or coffee break.

2. Have a designated workspace: Employees should set up a designated workspace and set clear hours for work. Dr Ramcharitar said developing a routine and creating a schedule to prevent getting distracted while at home could help.

3. Manage family life: Dr Ramcharitar said developing a routine with learning and fun activities for children who are at home will keep them occupied and allow you to manage your work schedule and home life.

4. Focus your energy on things you can control: Dr Ramcharitar said by spending too much on things we have no control over we end up anxious.

He suggested focusing instead on what you can do to prevent the spread of the virus with regular handwashing, staying at home, not going to the supermarkets. 

“You focus on that and you automatically feel more empowered,” he said.

5. Create balance: Watkins said employers and their staff must change the way they look at the world and the work that we do and ensure that they manage themselves in the present. He noted that people will be affected by the pandemic in different ways but adjusting to the new reality will allow people to cope with the challenges the situation brings.

6. Leaders should have empathy: Both Watkins and Dr Ramcharitar agree that employers should create a space to talk about personal challenges, lead with empathy and stress the importance of taking a break where necessary. 

7. Know when to unplug: Dr Ramcharitar stressed the importance of knowing when to step away from the screen and say no. He noted that one of the challenges with working from home is ending work within reasonable hours.  

Friday’s webinar is one of a series that has been envisaged and designed by the AMCHAM T&T HSE Committee, to engage with its membership and the public, and to provide the necessary tools to help companies create safe working conditions for their employees during this pandemic.

The AMCHAM T&T HSE Committee is one of the largest and most active committees at AMCHAM T&T, having implemented the region’s largest HSSE Conference for the past 24 years. The Committee is currently led by Cindi Nandlal, HSE manager at Point Lisas Nitrogen Ltd. and is comprised of HSE professionals across a range of sectors. This was one of a series of webinars that will be hosted by the organisation to assist members and the wider business community work through this challenging time.

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