April News

April is Stress Awareness Month

This April we all have more to be stressed about.  Pretty much as you would expect when you find yourself in the middle of a global pandemic. 

But just one additional impact is being caused by informational overload.  We aware that people are getting flooded with well-meaning posts and updates about Corona-virus, some of them even from us. While we do apologise for adding to this, we would still like to offer further advice for those who are now having to adjust to homeworking.

Temporarily working from home?

Some key issues are that:

    •  unless you have a home office set up, employees may end up having to ‘make-do’ with equipment,
    • people end up sitting for much longer periods of time without taking rest or comfort breaks,
    • exercise is already limited by circumstances outwith our control,
    • electronic overload, frustrations with new technologies and isolation from normal sources of support will add to pressure.
    • additional conflicts emerge, as there are now no boundaries separating work from home (anyone who has met my husband will understand exactly what I mean).

People are now more at risk from stress and developing muscoskeletal disorders and eye-strain and people with epilepsy or those who suffer from migraines or other conditions  may be more at risk. As the time period stretches out the risks of these issues increase.

Things you should do for desk station work

  1. Talk to your employer to make suitable arrangements for the right type of equipment to be supplied that will support your individual needs. 
  2. Take responsibility for your own health and well-being, we recommend this video for DSE assessment.


Stress is a major concern.

The whole of the UK is on lock-down procedures, and isolation can only add to the pressures. When you combine this with the added lack of social stimulus normally afforded by working in a work environment,  psychological stressors and subconscious anxieties predictably  increase our mental burdens. When you add deep-seated concerns about absent or vulnerable family members or add the presence of young children to the mix, while it may be entertaining for some of us to watch the subsequent videos that emerge of the other parent crawling on all fours to retrieve errant infants, it is not an ideal work scenario as the boundaries, coping strategies and escape rooms have just disappeared. 


We recommend employers have a quick look at the guides available here https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/index.htm .  Many of the signs of stress are noted by observation of changes in behaviour however, so if you are now remote from your workers you still have a duty of care to ensure their well-being.  This is difficult to monitor remotely and easy to overlook if people are not given the opportunity to share or be given adequate support. A daily catch-up, and a  realistic work plan for them to achieve targets day-by-day can reduce overload and encourage motivation. New skills can be developed over the new virtual platforms such as whatsapp, and zoom etc and the right level of stimulus can be achieved as long as you provide adequate training and support. By adequate, we do not mean throwing them a cheat sheet or running through things very quickly in a webinar. One-to-one coaching is essential for some people with new technology.

We strongly recommend that employers put additional procedures in place to monitor any employees still at work to ensure that general safety procedures are still maintained. No-one wants to have to add to the NHS pressures at this time and any delay in getting A&E attention could have a devastating consequence. 


If you are new to working from home:

    • Do watch the guide above and try to ensure you do your own DSE assessment. Your employer should ensure you are equipped to do this.
    • Take a 5 or 10 minute break every hour, set an alarm for every 2 hours to remind you to move away from your desk!
    • Stretch! walk around the house, dare we suggest some light housework may stimulate blood flow.
    • After work or at lunchtime, if you have a garden, or have somewhere suitable, do go out and enjoy the fresh air if you can safely, while still observing the physical distancing guidelines
    • Look up free training online, there are numerous free exercise classes being offered everywhere now.
    • Switch off! Do try and unplug away from the virtual world for a set period of time every day or every week.

We would also ask everyone to look after your own safety at this time. To those still working, and those who have children,  we know you know how to do it,  and we know you do it all the time, but right now keeping an eye on your children is especially critical. Check those lower cupboards are secure, make sure detergents, chemicals and medicines are well out of reach, ensure the siblings engage in only moderate jumping on the beds or on outdoor trampolines at this time,  and please do take additional care during any outdoor exercise activities.

Maintain your own health conditions and  ensure you have enough of your own medications and first aid supplies to hand.

Please keep yourself and your families safe and take the pressure of those NHS, healthcare workers and every other critical and essential worker out there at this time.

Thank you.