Meet the Irish firm promoting mental wellness during self-isolation

Business Leader recently met up with Aimee-Louise Carton, founder and CEO of KeepAppy – a personal wellness app that empowers users to take control of their mental and physical wellbeing through increased self-awareness and positive behaviour practices – to discuss how people can stay mentally prepared during the Covid-19 pandemic.

What impact can self-isolation have on a person?

Self-isolation is not a natural existence for the average individual. The majority of us are social creatures who rely on the constant contact of our loved ones and community. As a result, it will take time to adjust to self-isolation and social distancing; this in turn can increase feelings of anxiety or a low mood.

These are natural emotional responses, but if they are allowed to persist unchallenged, they typically lead to negative behaviours (such as overeating while reducing exercise) that worsen the initial feelings. Additionally, as this period of uncertainty continues, it is undeniable that feelings of deep and perpetual boredom will set in.

Boredom in itself has been reportedly linked to increasing anxiety by The New York Times (Tugend, 2014), due to the ‘aggressive dissatisfaction’ it can create. By not achieving goals or targets can also lead to a reduction in mood as a sense of failure is created.

How can employees stay positive during self-isolation?

We are living in unprecedented times, and staying positive in light of this global crisis can be hard. It is perfectly natural to feel anxious right now, but it is important not to let that anxiety control us. There are plenty of ways to achieve that.

First of all, take a break from the constant barrage of news and media. Focus on yourself and your wellbeing by setting small and achievable goals. These can be key to managing stress levels, and as simple as maintaining a clean and tidy. Start a gratitude diary by making a note of three to five positive things that happen each day.

Alternatively, you could write your concerns in a journal, or talk them through with a loved one. These three steps, along with maintaining contact with friends and family, continuing an exercise routine and keeping a healthy diet can be instrumental in remaining positive.

What can employers do to help their staff during this pandemic?

Helping staff during this pandemic means ensuring a sense of stability for both the individual and community, and emotional support during the next few weeks. Employers can help;

  • Create a culture of ‘we are all in this together’ by opening communication to all
  • Start ‘office cooler chats’ once or twice a week, by creating an open call with all staff members to keep office morale up. Try and create a sense of relaxation during this time by encouraging targeted ‘ranting’ topics: eg. managing children during this time, how to have a good ‘Netflix and quarantine’, a cooking advice session etc.
  • Ensure constant recognition of employees anxiety levels by sending a casual and welcoming toned email at the start and end of every week. Include personal stories and encourage others to chime in with their experiences
  • Start ‘community-creating’ initiatives like encouraging staff to nominate the ‘employee of the week’ or ‘funniest call’, this will allow employees to reflect on their own weeks and to support one another
  • Show empathy and patience as staff adjust to new working environments