We’re all in this together

It is hard to comprehend what is going on in the world right now. Like most people throughout the UK, the team here at FaithAction are all now working from home. It could be so easy to fall into a negative mindset at a time like this. Human nature means that we yearn for socialisation and connection. Relationship is what pushes us to love, care for and help one another.

Yet, suddenly, we have found ourselves in a position where socialisation is dangerous; in some cases, it is a life or death situation! Bars, restaurants and community spaces—places which are designed for social interaction—have closed, and the implications of this virus go beyond simply missing a meal with your friends, or an event that you’d been looking forward to. For many people, this will be a time of great difficulty. After all, we are not designed to be confined to four walls!

We will look back on this pandemic in five, ten, even twenty years’ time as a distant memory and think, ‘Wow, that changed the world as we knew it’. It will surely make the history books! However, for right now, the COVID-19 outbreak is reality for us. So, in a time which is forcing us to break routine and change mindsets, how can we ensure that this change is for the better?

Our team have put their (virtual) heads together and come up with positives that have come out of this time so far, suggestions on protecting your mental health, and some tips and tricks for working from home!

Looking on the bright side

One of our Creative English trainers, Catriona, said how this time has encouraged her to see more of her family via Zoom.

  • Zoom is a fantastic way of keeping up that essential social interaction via group video call. You can sign up for free here.
  • Our team here at FaithAction use Zoom daily for catch-ups, and we have particularly enjoyed the feature which enables you to change your background to an exotic location. Who says you can’t at least pretend you’re on the beach?!

Jenny, our Project Administrator, said that she has found that she can concentrate better working from home. The option to choose a quiet space in the comfort of your own home can be a blessing.

Matt, our Project Officer, enjoys seeing more of his family whist working from home, particularly his two-month old daughter! The slowing-down of our typical lifestyles means that we have the opportunity to make more time for our loved ones and strengthen bonds.

Not only can positive changes be made within and from the home, but things are changing out in the world, too. Pollution levels have dropped dramatically, the murky canals of Venice are now clear blue, and birdsong can be heard in Wuhan for the first time in people’s memories. Whilst we are at home protecting and healing ourselves, so too is the Earth having a well-earned break!

Protecting your mental health

Your mental health is extremely valuable, and it is important to take steps to ensure that you protect it during this time!

Exercise is one of the best ways to do this. A busy schedule can be a great excuse for avoiding the gym. However, whilst you are at home why not make a little room for some exercise? There are many workout tutorials which are accessible online – from easy to difficult – so there is something for everyone. Exercise releases serotonin, a ‘happy hormone’ in the brain which is proven to improve mental health. Joe Wicks ‘The Body Coach’ has live daily workout routines that are child-friendly, so that you can even turn exercise into a fun family activity! To join in, simply visit his YouTube page here. Yoga is also a great option.

Richard, our Healthwatch Officer says that it is important to try and keep a clear sense of perspective. Setting yourself some simple aims is a good place to start. Perhaps you could write a to-do list for your day, no matter how insignificant the tasks on it may feel. A sense of purpose is vital for positive mental health! He also emphasises that communication is key. Make good use of technology to tell people how you feel and also be a listening ear to others. Don’t bottle your feelings up!

There is no better time than now to learn something new! Perhaps there is something you have always wanted to learn but you have never had the time, or maybe you can pick up a skill that you left way back in your past. Self-isolation provides the perfect opportunity to dust off those old sketch books or take a seat at that piano. Our Hub Coordinator Jess is learning French and Jeremy, our Policy and Programme Officer, has started a new DIY project! There are hundreds and thousands of tutorials online for almost everything you could wish to learn. So, make the world inside your home your oyster.

Tips for working from home

  • Get fresh air. Sit by a window and listen to the birds sing for a bit of normality! Make the most of lunch breaks, sitting in the garden (if weather allows!)
  • Set yourself targets. Having something to aim towards helps build a sense of purpose.
  • Do something to get your brain back into your working routine. Bethan, one of our Creative English trainers, goes for a ‘mock commute’ – a walk with a coffee – before she starts her day.
  • Maintain structure. Jess, our Hub Coordinator, says it helps her to try and emulate a normal day in the office. Our Project Officer Matt agrees, saying that this also aids mental health. Sticking to the same rhythm of work and rest and separating the space in your house from where you relax helps to build productivity.
  • Jeremy, our Policy and Programme Officer, says to not be tempted to leave work things lying around the house. Now that staying at home is the norm, it’s good to keep those boundaries between work and the rest of life!

A united front

Perhaps one of the most comforting facts of all is that we truly are all one in this. There is no better example of this than the viral videos of residents in Italy joining together from their balconies for morale-boosting songs. Thousands of Europeans have taken to their front doors, balconies and windows to applaud the health workers who are on the front-lines fighting this virus.

If you know of vulnerable neighbours, you may be able to offer assistance with getting groceries (which can be difficult in the current climate) or even to set up a WhatsApp or Facebook group for your street. A daily message of encouragement and care could make all the difference.

This is a time which will take us back to basics. Worldly things are being stripped from us one by one. This can seem overwhelming, but we can choose to take this as an opportunity to get back to the root of human connection. It is an opportunity to show kindness, to be patient, to think outside of the box. We really are all in this together, so let’s make sure everyone knows it.