General Manager Health
Dr. Sally Phillips
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is testing all of us in ways we’ve never faced before. Our day-to-day lives – the way we work, socialise, eat and exercise – our whole health from physical, mental and financial have all been affected.
Financial advisers are needed more than ever as communities navigate the current circumstances and try to make sense of the impact the virus is having on the economy and their financial situation.
There is no doubt that the new normal of working from home, coupled with social distancing measures makes it harder for you to communicate with your clients - especially those seeking reassurance and guidance during these uncertain times. However, there is a unique opportunity to lead through the disruption and have important ongoing conversations with your clients, playing an active role in their mental and financial wellbeing.
We understand this might not be easy and no matter where you find yourself working, we want you to be well. Here are some ways to look after yourself as you adapt to working from home and move to conducting virtual meetings with clients instead of your usual face-to-face catch-ups. Regardless of what’s happening around us, your physical and mental health remains a priority.
Looking After Your Physical Health
- Good ergonomics –Set up a work environment that lets you thrive. Place your screen at eye level, have your laptop on a stable base (not on your lap), adopt a good sitting posture with your back supported and take regular breaks. This is especially important now your meetings are mostly virtual, and you’re no longer meeting clients face-to-face. Download the helpful checklist from SafeWork NSW on how to set-up your work space from home.
- Keep active - Regular exercise can help boost your body’s defence against infections as well as enhance your mood. Perhaps spend your morning commute going for a walk outside, stand up while talking on the phone or do some stretching to reduce the impact of sitting for too long. You can even try an online exercise class. As a reminder, the World Health Organisation recommends we get 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week1. Importantly, we should minimise long periods of sitting whether working from the office or home.
- Eat well - A healthy diet filled with fruit and vegetables will help to keep your immune system performing at its best. It may be tempting to snack more often when working from home, but it’s important you make healthy food choices that keep your mood and energy high.
Maintaining Your Mental Health
- Stay connected – This will be one of the biggest challenges we face during this time. Social connections play a huge role in our wellbeing, and many of us use our time at work, or on our commute, to have meaningful social connections. Schedule regular meetings with your team and clients via phone or virtual teams. Pick up the phone instead of sending an email or enjoy your morning coffee with your client over facetime.
- Getting in the zone – There are always things that need to be done around the home, and it can be hard to switch off from ‘home’ to ‘work’ mode. Especially if you are sharing your new workspace with partners and kids. Be disciplined and set boundaries for your working environment. Physical boundaries are great (i.e. desk, study), but mental boundaries can be even more important in uncertain times like these. Try to find activities that bring you into the ‘zone’ of work. It might be mindfulness, a daily to-do list, or putting in your headphones – whatever it is that gives you a mental trigger to ‘switch on’ for the workday ahead.
- Be kind to yourself and others – More than ever, it’s important to take regular breaks within your working day and practice self-care. Read a book, listen to music or mediate. Thrive Inside is a special meditation program by Smiling Mind designed to keep you mentally well while spending extended periods of time at home.
Remember, you’re not in this alone. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by news of the outbreak and how it’s impacting our lives today and into the future. For additional support and a list of national help lines and websites, please click here.
The year ahead is shaping up to be an even more crucial year for advisers. As an organisation that has continuously been a strong advocate for supporting the advice community, TAL will endeavour to support your health and wellbeing so you are able to continue to provide strong, considerate advice to your clients.
1. World Health Organisation, ‘Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health’, Available at: https://www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/factsheet_adults/en/ (Accessed: 1 April 2020).