COVID-19 wellbeing

Amid all of the uncertainty caused by Covid-19, CA Support want to reassure our members and students that we are here for you to provide as much support and advice as possible.  See our articles below for more help and guidance.  Feel free to get in touch with one of the team via our Contact us page.

 Our lives have changed a lot since March. The constant newsfeed draws our focus back to restrictions or bad news, making it difficult to see any positive outcomes, but there are many new behaviours we have developed that we don’t want to give up.   What are the lockdown habits you developed in the last few months? Maybe you tried and kept some of these: Enjoying an early morning walkHaving breakfast with your kidsExploring, and appreciating, your local areaGetting out in nature every dayEmbracing online learningTackling that big DIY project and much-avoided clear-outDeveloping new gardening skillsLearning to cook or bakeStarting to play an instrumentBinged on box setsCaught up with friends on ZoomAs new agile and flexible working arrangements will be key benefits for most people, but what smaller changes made to your day-to-day life are now non-negotiable? Are there any healthy habits you would like to keep?Family mealsThere was nowhere to rush off to, so families got to enjoy meals together again. This was certainly a novelty for anyone with teenagers at home or if a parent had a long commute. Sitting together as a family to enjoy a meal became the norm, so holding onto this habit would be beneficial for everyone.CommunityAs movements were restricted initially people explored their local community a bit more. No commute meant we saw neighbours we had not seen in a long time. There are many heart-warming stories of people helping each other within a community setting. This sense of community had been lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life and has found a welcome return and hopefully, we will keep and cherish it.Activity/HealthSome people binge-watched box sets, and some binge walked and did daily workouts online. Daily walks became very popular and we enjoyed nature again. Being active and having a healthy heart is always good, so hopefully, we will be able to carry these activities into the future.Self-careThe last few months have been a time of anxiety and stress, particularly if you have a vulnerable person in the family. To manage stress and anxiety many people took us meditation or yoga. Both are healthy skills with many benefits, so are always good to have and maintain.AppreciationAbove all else, the crisis has taught us appreciation. To take time to consider our surroundings, our family, friends, and appreciate all that is good in our lives. It has allowed us to reflect and consider changing things which were not so good for us.   By showing appreciation and reflecting we are more aware and conscious that others may need help or support, and this is the best habit we could take forward and keep.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Sep 16, 2020

A huge portion of the global population has adapted to working from home (WFH). Initially, the main concern for employers was productivity, but now as WFH has been extended, a bigger risk is employee burnout. For many, working from home has been thrust upon us and not a choice, so adapting quickly was essential. Employees who have chosen to work from home are usually good at separating their work from personal life and have a dedicated space. As WFH is likely to be extended, it is important to know and understand the risks and avoid burnout.Our knowledge economy ensures we are constantly connected, and keeping healthy boundaries between professional and personal life can be a real challenge. Emails are often sent late at night just to finalise or meet a deadline. This can have a trickle effect and other employees then feel it necessary to show similar dedication and productivity. Another consideration is colleagues often feel compelled to respond to emails sent outside normal office hours straight away, even though it may not be urgent.  If you have been feeling exhausted, disconnected, finding yourself procrastinating, and feel less effective in your job you could be suffering from burnout. Combining our work and personal life constantly is not good for our mental health. How do we ensure we protect ourselves and our colleagues? How can we leave our work at the door if we no longer walk out that door to work? The best way to do this is to create some boundaries. We have five tips to help you WFH successfully:1. Keep physical and social boundariesWhen going into work there are certain physical actions you do like putting on work clothes, catching the bus, or a train to work, these are indicators that help you switch into work mode. You may be happy not to have your daily commute, particularly if the weather is bad outside, but these signals are important for our brain. Try taking a short daily walk in the morning as your commute and dress comfortably but do try and wear some work clothes and not your usual casual wear for home. This will help you transition from “home you” to “work you”.2. Maintain a structure which worksSticking to the usual 9 – 5 pm structure may not be realistic for you, particularly in the current pandemic, you may have additional responsibilities e.g. a child at home or an elderly parent to check in on. Be honest with your employer and agree to a structure that works for both of you and stick to those hours. Employers and supervisors need to take a flexible approach to the working week to achieve the best productivity and a happier workforce.3. Prioritise your workloadEmployees working from home can sometimes lose sight of this basic time-management principle. Instead, they focus on productivity and demonstrating to others they have been very busy. Draw the focus back on work ,,and prioritise your workload. Do the important stuff first. Block out time appropriately if possible, it will make you more productive.4. Stay connectedIf you were working on-site, team communication is relatively easy, but we need to find a way to keep that connectivity so use the tools available to make it work. A team that remains connected it more motivated, driven, and productive.5. Celebrate your winsPaige Cohan from Harvard Business Review recommends that at the end of each day you celebrate your wins. Working from home is challenging, so by acknowledging what has been achieved it will focus your mind and help to motivate you.  Take a look at her at her short video  If you found this article interesting Noel O’Callaghan FCA and a qualified psychotherapist gives some insight into how to deal with burnout.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email:  casupport@charteredaccountants.ie 

Sep 10, 2020
AI Extra

We all like to feel valued at work and know that what we are doing matters. Showing appreciation is a great way to convey this to others. Often, people will be unaware of how to best express appreciation to their colleagues. Charlotte Keating provides some simple ways of how you can enhance your connection with the team, even when you can’t physically be in the office.Stephen Covey said in his bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “Next to physical survival, the greatest need of a human being is psychological survival; to be understood, to be affirmed, to be validated, to be appreciated.”Sometimes, a simple ‘thank you’ is not enough.It’s good to be aware that we all have different ways of receiving appreciation. What makes one member of the team feel appreciated may not necessarily make another feel valued in the same way. According to research by Dr Gary Chapman and Dr Paul White in their book The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, we all have a primary language of appreciation. Even though we can accept appreciation in other ways, we will not feel fully valued at work unless it is communicated in our primary language. This means that the intended message may get lost in translation and not have the result the sender anticipated.The five languages of appreciationKnowledge of these five languages can make you aware of your own appreciation preference while also helping you advise which methods of appreciation your colleagues may respond to best.1. Words of affirmationThis is verbal praise which makes others feel validated. It is the most common primary language of appreciation in the workplace.Ways to express words of affirmation to a colleagueSometimes, a quick “thank you” in person or by email is sufficient; however, it’s best to be specific and to use the person’s name, e.g.: “Sarah, I just wanted to let you know that I really appreciate you being such an organised person. It’s been especially helpful during this crisis knowing that there is a structure in place.” It’s worth remembering that some prefer to be acknowledged in private (in person or via a call/email or a handwritten card), while others like public praise (which could be done from a distance though cc’ing relevant individuals or thanking them on a group video call).2. Quality timeHere you are spending time with your colleagues and giving them your undivided attention – even just a few minutes during the day to discuss their progress on a project, allow them to vent frustrations or seek advice. It is possible to spend quality time remotely – and it is important for one's mental health to do so when physically working away from others.How to spend quality time with a colleagueSchedule a video call with them, even if it is just to have a quick, non-work related chat to catch-up. Avoid distractions during the call. Keep all of the team appraised of relevant matters, particularly when the casual interactions of a shared work environment are not possible. Organise a video quiz with the team, or online after-work drinks Using the “breakout room” function provided by some video conferencing platforms like Zoom is a great way to split up a larger group, making it easier to have more manageable conversations that everyone can participate in.Have a virtual check-in during the day, just as you might stop by their desk to say a quick hello.3. Acts of serviceWhile we all have our own roles and tasks to complete, working collaboratively and helping out colleagues is a great way to show that we value them.How you can show appreciation by helping out a colleagueOne of the main requests in an office is for support with technology, and you may still be able to provide remote assistance to colleagues having technical issues, e.g. helping with video call accessibility.Simply ask, “is there anything I can help with?” and reassure them that you can spare the time if you have it.Clarify what area they need help in and how to go about the task before starting it.Schedule calls at a time of day that works best for them.4. Tangible giftsGive a thoughtful gift to a colleague. The material value is not important, only the thought that goes into the gift.How to give gifts to show appreciation Personalise it – gift them a voucher for their favourite restaurant.Keep it simple – arrange for nice coffee beans to be delivered to their door or, if you’re in the office, drop a cup of coffee to their desk.Send a “certificate of appreciation” via email or post. There are various templates available online.5. Physical touchThis relates to appropriate, professional physical contact. Personal boundaries are incredibly important here. Naturally, this is the least common language of appreciation in the workplace.Ways to use physical touch to show appreciationA firm handshake, a high-five to celebrate a win or an appropriate hug.It is clearly impossible to handshake when social distancing. Virtual high-fives through screens or using appropriate emojis can get the same message of respect, appreciation, support and encouragement across to team members. Determining your colleagues’ appreciation languageBefore you move forward with applying any of these appreciation languages, you should figure out a colleague’s preference first.Observe how they show appreciation to others. Often how a person expresses appreciation reflects their preferred way of receiving it; andListen to their main concerns, complaints and requests, which can provide clues as to what feedback or assistance they require. Contributing to others’ wellbeingAnyone can make a positive contribution to the team through expressing appreciation, no matter what their role is. While it’s great to get encouraging feedback from a supervisor, peer support is so important, now more than ever, to keep motivation levels up. It’s not just about recognising results, it’s about recognising people and what we value about them. Feeling genuinely appreciated boosts morale and well-being. It’s not our job to make others happy, but it’s important to remember that when we show regular, authentic appreciation, it raises not only the self-esteem of others but also our own.Charlotte Keating FCA is a qualified life and business coach and founder of Act On It Coaching.

Sep 01, 2020

As the new school year approaches, anxiety is growing, and parents are conflicted. While we all accept the need for a return to school or college, it does mean that we must trust the plans and safeguards in place will work. Most children and teens are looking forward to returning to the classroom, however, the classroom will be very different, so as parents it is important to speak to your son/daughter before the term starts and ensure they are equipped and ready to adapt to the new ‘norm’ in school. You can support your child/teen through this transition back to school life. Here we have some top tips to guide these conversations:Ask how do they feel about going back to school? Listen carefully to the answer they may say what they think you want to hear. It is likely they will have mixed emotions, while they are eager to get back to the classroom, they have been safe at home with you or a trusted person for a long time now. Let them know that these feelings are ok and that everyone will most probably be feeling something similar. Set the scene. Give them as much information as possible. Most schools have been in contact with parents regarding the plans for re-opening and advised what is expected. The best thing you can do is make sure your son/daughter is informed, even if they are very young. Younger children can be assisted if they can see what is planned, so source photos or draw with them. Reassurance is key. Children are resilient, but they will need lots of re-assurance that returning to school is in their best interest. Their safety is a priority for their teachers, but they need to be aware of their own safety too. Let them know and understand how to stay safe in school e.g. washing their hands, not touching their face, listening to the teacher, and following the new rules.Keep the pressure off. Most children can adapt easily, but it will be a tricky time as a new routine needs to be established at home and in school, so be kind to yourself and don’t expect it all to happen overnight. Offer support, reassurance, and comfort, but don’t add any additional pressure, everyone will adapt at their own pace. Look forward. Much has changed since March and some of the changes in school will not be welcome. It is important to try and remain positive. This is not permanent and will end and we will be able to look forward and our feelings will change.Seek support. The transition may be more challenging to some children and they could find it difficult to adapt. If this happens speak to the school, they will be happy to help, remember they are doing everything they can so support students. If the difficulties persist and anxiety is becoming an issue seek support from your GP.Talk openly to teenagers they may be nervous about returning to school too, a lot has changed, including them and they could have worries you may not have considered. Teenagers still look to their parents for re-assurance and so it will be important that parents demonstrate confidence with the planed return to school. They learn essential social skills and how to interact with others, so encouragement is critical. You could also view handling the uncertainty and change   which was held by our Cork District Society recently.Teachers and school staff fully appreciate the apprehension and anxiety and want this transition back to school to work for everyone. They want to support students, ensure they are comfortable in school, and can continue to learn and move forward. By working together this can be achieved, with everyone playing their part.CA Support is here to support our students, members, and their families. Contact the CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ie

Aug 27, 2020

In the same way that many of us found it difficult to get into a new routine in lockdown, it makes perfect sense that we will find it difficult to move on from there too. Remember, you have adapted and coped with change before and you will this time too. Understanding resilience and how to boost it will help us stay the course and finish the marathon. Personal resilience can be described as the capacity to adapt to adversity, while looking after your wellbeing. Resilience helps us to develop and maintain some balance in our lives during difficult or stressful situations. Boosting your resilience can help to protect you against challenging life experiences and prevent them from becoming overwhelming. AwarenessThis is about being aware of the situation and acknowledging what’s happening, as well as recognising your own emotional reactions and behaviour, and the behaviour of those around you.  In order to manage your feelings, you have to understand what’s causing them and why.Understanding that setbacks are part of lifeLife is full of challenges. The trick is to learn from any setbacks and be willing to adapt to change. Setbacks allow us to start again. They give us an opportunity to reset and to rethink our approach. This is an important life skill.Having an internal locus of controlResilient people tend to have an ‘internal locus of control’. It means they believe the actions they take will have an effect on the outcome of an event. It’s important for our mental wellbeing that we feel we have the power to make choices that will affect our situation, our ability to cope and our future. Ask yourself, ‘what can I do about this?’There will be occasions when the answer to the question is ‘nothing’. However, analysing the situation gives you a sense of control. It highlights your choices. Very often the list of things you can do will far outstrip the list of those you cannot. Strong problem-solving skillsAs we move out of lockdown it’s essential to calmly look at problems as they appear, explore potential solutions and work towards a successful outcome. Early on there may be a temptation to attempt to do too much, too soon.List a maximum of 5 things you’d like to achieve each day, put them in order of priority and then address them in that order. Stop regularly to ask yourself, ‘how is what I am currently doing contributing to what I want to achieve?’ At the end of each day, reflect positively on your achievements.Strong social connectionsCoronavirus has changed the way we socialise. Many of us will have made greater use of social media, many will have supported vulnerable people and some of us will, maybe for the first time in a long time, have spent quality time with our family.Research has highlighted for some time that stronger social connections in our lives increase feelings of happiness and self-worth. Those connections are valuable, so make time to interact with people in your life after lockdown. Volunteering helps counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety, makes you feel happier, increases your self-confidence and provides a sense of purpose. This could be a habit to take with you to boost your wellbeing as we move into the future.If you’ve been feeling isolated, use this exit as an opportunity to make a change. Perhaps join a club, take up a sport or re-engage with old friends.See yourself as a survivor, not a victimInstead of focussing on the negatives, focus on the positives as we emerge from lockdown and see yourself as a survivor. Ask yourself, ‘what opportunities does this situation present?’ whenever you’re faced with a difficult choice or situation.Ask for helpWhile being resourceful is an important part of resilience, it is also essential to know when to ask for help.If you’re struggling, you won’t be the only one. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.  Far too many people wait too long before seeking help, especially men.  For all your practical and emotional needs, contact our in-house CA Support team on mobile: (353) 86 024 3294 or via email: CASupport@charteredaccountants.ieArticle written by Richard Jenkins, Behavioural Psychologist and kindly provided by CABA

Aug 20, 2020

Your mental wellbeing is about your thoughts and feelings and how you cope with the ups and downs of everyday life.It's not the same thing as mental health, although the two can influence each other. Long periods of low mental wellbeing can lead to the development of diagnosable mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. If you're living with a mental health condition, you may experience low mental wellbeing more often, but there will also be long periods where you're able to maintain good mental wellbeing.What does good mental wellbeing look like?Importantly, good mental wellbeing is NOT the absence of negative thoughts and feelings. We all face difficult and challenging situations that cause us to feel angry, sad, overwhelmed and everything in-between. Instead, it's about being able to understand and manage those feelings, so that generally you're able to:feel confident in yourselfbuild and maintain positive relationshipshave a sense of purposelive and work productivelycope with the normal stresses of day-to-day lifemanage when things changeWhat can affect your mental wellbeing?Our mental wellbeing is often affected by big life events that we have little or no control over such as bereavement, illness, or redundancy. In these situations, it's about how we respond - our behaviours and habits - that will determine the impact on our mental wellbeing. For example, do we tend to reach out for support or withdraw? Do we assume the worst or remain open to new opportunities?It's here that our level of resilience comes into play. Resilience is your ability to cope with change and adversity. By strengthening your resilience, you're better able to maintain good mental wellbeing through all of life's ups and downs.There are also factors that influence our mental wellbeing, which we can control.1. Our relationshipsStrong connections with friends, family and colleagues help to strengthen our confidence and self-esteem.2. Our physical healthThrough good nutrition and regular physical activity, we can boost our energy levels, improve our confidence, and relieve stress. Small changes make a big difference. 3. Our emotional healthPracticing mindfulness can help you understand and manage strong emotions so that rather than feeling overwhelmed, you're able to approach difficult situations with a sense of calm and clarity. The big pictureAt CA Support, our vision is for all members of the chartered accountant community to live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The key to this is empowering you to take care of your own mental wellbeing. Because when you don't feel quite yourself, other areas of your life are affected too. Our services can help you balance all aspects of your wellbeing, so you can live the life you want to.CONTACT USContact us through email at casupport@charteredaccountants.ie or call us on (353) 86 024 3294 we will be happy to assist.Article reproduced with the kind permission of CABA, the organisation providing lifelong support to ICAEW members and students.

Jul 23, 2020