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Navigating loneliness in a work-from-home world

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Navigating loneliness in a work-from-home world  

This week marks Loneliness Awareness Week, a campaign created by the Marmalade Trust which encourages people to talk, remove stigmas and raise awareness of loneliness. 

In the work from home era, now more than ever it’s important to speak up when you’re feeling lonely. For the majority of office workers, the past 16 months or so have been isolating to say the least. We’ve been summoned to our living rooms, bedrooms – and only if you’re lucky, the home office – with only virtual communication to help us get through the day.  

Compare that to office life, where we would work alongside our peers engaging in constant office chit-chat and face-to-face communication, and it’s no wonder why almost half (46%) of workers in the UK have suffered from loneliness, with a further 70% of those surveyed by Total Jobs admitting it had an impact on their mental health.  

So, #LetsTalkLoneliness in the workplace. Have you experienced it? 

The tricky thing is that it’s not always easy to identify. Speaking to Stylist magazine, director of healthcare partnerships at Headspace, Sarah Romotsky, said that loneliness can present itself in many ways – sometimes more than one. Some may experience anger, frustration, or irritability, while others feel sad, empty and lethargic with limited ability to concentrate. 

Once you’ve identified that you might be experiencing loneliness, the first thing you should do is reach out to your colleagues – but instead of dropping an email or quick message over Slack, pick up the phone and engage in some interaction that gets you away from the computer screen. 

Don’t be a slave to your screen!  

You might not realise, but all that time spent glued to your screen is going to wreak havoc on your productivity. Remember, in the office you are encouraged to take regular screen breaks,: whether that be to grab a coffee, communicate with another department, or just to grab something from the store cupboard. But, now that we’re at home with everything at our fingertips, it’s easy to forget about the need for screen breaks and taking some respite from a mountain of tasks.  

 At Active Profile, we’ll often take our Monday morning team meetings outside (if the weather permits). We also try to keep that team collaboration alive with regular ‘lightening jams’ to discuss upcoming projects and ideas.  

You should also set some time apart for catch-ups that aren’t work related. You’d never talk about work for the entire duration of your office day, so why would you do it just because you’re at home? Encourage team catch-ups that aren’t about work -  and if government guidelines allow, why not schedule some face-to-face meet- ups every once in a while? Catching up on Zoom is great, but nothing beats a drink or walk in the park with your colleagues.  

Put your mental health first 

Above all else, to combat loneliness you must look after your mental health. Be present at work and give it your all, but once the working day is done, switch off your computer and spend time with loved ones or engage in anything that gets you away from the isolation of your work desk. Presenteeism is more prevalent than ever, with many of us working long into the nights and weekends to power through our work. This in itself can result in loneliness, which causes your body to release more of the stress hormone, cortisol, which has a direct impact on your sleep.  

It’s been a tough time for us all, so if you are feeling lonely then don’t be afraid to reach out. It doesn’t have to be a colleague, it could be a close friend, family member or even someone professional. But just remember that you shouldn’t have to experience these feelings alone –a problem shared is a problem halved and there is always somebody you can talk to.  

For more information, and to find out how you can spot and combat signs of loneliness, head to the Marmalade Trust website

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