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Digital Detoxes, Mental Health at Work and Reimagining Home: EHS Today’s Weekly Reads

March 18, 2022
This week, we’re focusing on mental health and well-being and considering how COVID-19 has changed our way of life.

We sense a buzzing of excitement in the air, which we know will soon be filled with the buzzing of bees pollinating flowers. These are welcome thoughts, but we want to keep focused on the here and now.

We tend to spend more of our efforts reflecting on the past and anticipating the future. While that can be helpful, it can also rob us of enjoying the present—and the work we may need to do in the present to make a better tomorrow.

With that in mind, we’re taking a closer look at mental health and well-being. We can’t underemphasize the impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives. Even as cases subside and masks come off, we will be dealing with the long-term effects the pandemic has had on pretty much every facet of our daily lives.

With that in mind, here are a few articles that have captured our attention.

Mental Health in the Workplace

We saw this story being shared on LinkedIn this week, and it has stuck with us—so we’re sharing with all of you.

The piece shares the story of an employee who was already working through some major life changes and challenges. Then COVID-19 hit. Fortunately, he had a great relationship with his manager, who reached out to see how he was doing. To her credit, the manager is open with her own mental health needs and puts her therapy appointments on her Outlook calendar. These two are far from alone in their mental health struggles.

A study published in late 2021 in Harvard Business Review concluded: “Mental health challenges are now the norm among employees across all organizational levels." Those findings are supported by other research that highlights a need for more discussion about mental health at work as well as resources from employers and employer-provided healthcare.

We want to remind you, and encourage you, that it can get better with the right support, be it therapy, medications or otherwise. It takes time and hard work, but it is possible. And frankly, it’s incredible when you can feel like your old self again. In fact, the new perspective and tools gained through that support can make you even stronger and better than before.

If you or someone you know needs help, please check out this extensive list of treatment resources from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration here. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has trained crisis workers available to talk 24/7 at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Read more about this important topic and some behavior changes that could indicate a bigger problem here.

Put Your Phone Down, and Slowly Walk Away

In the early days of COVID-19, we found ourselves glued to the TV and our phones, constantly searching for more news. Those were scary times, but we eventually learned that our desire to be informed and then connected with others while safely in our bubbles was actually harming our mental health.

Recently, we have fallen back into these habits as we follow the developments on the Russia-Ukraine war. There is no shortage of heartbreaking images and news that was heretofore unfathomable.

It is important to stay informed and get that news from credible sources, as disinformation and misinformation campaigns abound. It is also important to protect our mental health.

One way to help yourself is to curb technology usage or media consumption through a digital detox. Detoxes can mean different things for different people, but a good place to start is by taking a step back and examining your relationship with technology. How do you feel? Are you seeing any changes in mood, sleep, relationships or eating habits? Then, set goals for yourself and focus on what behaviors need to shift in order to achieve those goals. You may find, as researchers have also, that sleep, relationships and mood improve as a result of less technology.

Learn more about the benefits of and how to get started here.

Pandemic-proofing the House

We’ve spent much of these past two years at home. During that time, we’ve adapted our homes to fit our needs, such as a makeshift office at the kitchen table or a home gym in whatever corner of a room you can spare. We’re making due; in the process, we’re reconsidering our spaces and what we value about them.

Many people have reorganized or rearranged their homes. Some have turned to home renovations, perhaps as a creative outlet to prevent going stir crazy or to help the space work better for them. Given the hot housing market, high cost of building materials and shortage of housing inventory, it’s not a bad way to go. These changes may have been spurred by COVID-19, but they seem more like long-time trends rather than short-term blips.

We were intrigued by this video story of how the pandemic has changed our ideas of home. We haven’t found many photogenic wall spaces in our home, so we were blown away by the Zoom room, which feels both necessary and frivolous. We also loved the idea of an escape room because, after a while, the closet can get uncomfortable, not to mention claustrophobic.

But most of all, we were intrigued by how even our beloved HGTV shows, which vacillate between guilty pleasure and hate-watching, will be different in the future. In the meantime, we’ll continue working from the kitchen table and daydreaming of a home office.

Watch the video here.

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