HOUSTON - This year has taken a heavy toll on a lot of people as we continue to face new changes and challenges throughout the pandemic. Whether working from home or at the office, many say they've been negatively impacted by their mental health. Also, stress levels remain high as many of us feel tied to our computers day in and day out.
"You don't have those opportunities to have the watercooler chats and, you know, go grab a coffee together. So, I think that does weigh on people from you know, an emotional health perspective."
Erika Zauner, founder and CEO of Health-Kick, says one major side effect of working from home has been Zoom fatigue. Her digital health company is working to help improve corporate wellness space.
"What we're recommending to employees is that they schedule time into their day to do that afternoon coffee break or to, you know, take a walk outside during lunch, just as they normally would, to still have those little bits of social interaction to get some fresh air," says Zauner.
When it comes to mental and physical wellness, managing and prioritizing self-care is also key.
"There are a lot of great online classes right now that are like 20 to 30 minutes. So actually putting it into your calendar and holding that time, you know, putting in a hold for lunch. That way, someone can't book a meeting over that time, and you're also reminded and held more accountable to yourself too."
When you're feeling drained from staring at the screen all day, she says you can even turn to apps that can help create a more relaxed and healthier state of mind.
"Download a mindfulness app, it's an easy go to when you're feeling stressed, and there are so many options out there, too, that, you know, to pick and choose from."
There's also a connection between your mood and food. Many studies have found that healthy diets can help symptoms of depression and anxiety.
"We're eating all of our meals at home...so it's easy to grab whatever is lying around, which is often packaged food. So either taking time to maybe meal prep or and make it a family activity, right, like, get your kids involved, that teaches them about healthy eating, too."
While many companies have been having open conversations with employees about their needs, Zauner says it's important for managers to check in with them more frequently.
"And as employees, I think, you know, we also need to bring up/feel comfortable speaking with managers about, you know, our needs at this time, and just, you know, having a more open dialogue about that."
There are many resources available to help for mental, emotional, and physical wellness that can be accessed virtually. The City of Houston's Mental Health Helpline is also open seven days a week from 1 p.m. - 11 p.m. until Christmas. You can call (713) 999-9442.