It’s useful to understand how Lone Workers deal with issues day-to-day and how they find ways of staying healthy.

For a while now there has been a lot of discussion about how a period of prolonged isolation affects the mental and physical wellbeing of a person. As we delve deeper into the levels of mental health, jobs that require an individual to be isolated often is especially highlighted during these recent times, as many of us have to isolate ourselves.

Whilst a prolonged period of isolation isn’t easy for anyone involved, it is perhaps more manageable for those who have larger households and greater levels of social interaction, however that doesn’t mean that issues cannot arise.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, and people are forced to isolate further for their own protection, it is important to ensure that we are taking the right precautions and actions to keep ourselves mentally and physically well and there is a lot we can learn from lone and night time workers who have to deal with periods of isolation on a daily basis.

Who are lone workers and what are the impacts of prolonged isolation?

Lone workers are employees that perform their work activities in an ‘isolated’ environment with little to no supervision or contact with colleagues. This includes the likes of security guards, postal staff, lone office workers and a variety of other professions.

It will come as no surprise that these long periods of isolation workers deal with daily, often have negative impacts on their mental health and there are countless studies showing that these types of workers are at a higher risk of feeling isolated from the world they know.

These feelings of loneliness can be triggered through a variety of factors including:

  • Lack of support
  • Lack of communication and team working
  • Reduced contact with colleagues

It’s down to these factors that many lone workers often experience higher stress levels which reduce morale and can lead to depression or anxiety.

It is these same issues that many of us are experiencing during the current period of isolation we are enduring and understanding the potential issues is the first step in helping to ensure we combat the problem.

As we already provide certain job roles that expect a person to alone for long periods of times, it’s useful to understand how they deal with issues day-to-day and how they find ways of staying healthy whilst completing a job that to many, could be seen as incredibly difficult.

What can we learn from lone workers about solving these issues?

As a result of prolonged periods of working alone and feeling isolated there are actions and techniques we can take to support our loved ones and the people around us during this difficult time.

The most essential action we can take is communication. Having little to no communication with others is perhaps the main reason self isolation is so difficult for the majority of people, especially those living alone. Therefore, the effort to communicate with each other, even in the smallest of ways, should be essential as even a quick phone call to a friend or relative, which can make all the difference as it encourages a sense of normality during this period.

Whilst communication is perhaps one of the most effective tools we have, there are a variety of other actions we can take to make self isolation more bearable.

Take multiple short breaks: taking short breaks from activities, whether that is working or watching TV can help prevent the feeling of boredom that can quickly arise during self isolation, especially if you are doing the same task all day. These breaks allow your brain to reset and can help keep morale high.

Exercise: Done in moderation, exercise can help improve morale, alertness and health as well as encouraging a better night’s sleep. Exercise can also serve as a helpful distraction from the daily routine that many people may find themselves trapped in during a prolonged period of isolation.

If you feel yourself spending more time procrastinating them being productive, sometimes walking away from a task, taking a walk or doing another small productive task, can help you restart the kick you might need to get stuff done.

Allow time to adjust: it will come as no surprise that your body will take time to adjust to the current situation and it is important to give your body time to do so. This will make isolation seem more natural and comfortable.

Of course, not everybody’s work and home situation are the same and so many people will experience a more difficult time than others, but if you have an input in the situation for example, you’re the employer, there are simple gestures you can do, to ensure the mental wellbeing of employees who may not be coping as well as others.

Overall it is important to ensure that your mental and physical wellbeing remain at a high standard during this difficult time and using the knowledge and experiences of lone and night workers will make the isolation period more bearable for those struggling to adapt.

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