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Gender, Diversity and Inclusion in CGIAR's Workplaces


April 2020


Taking care of your health and wellbeing

At times like these, anxiety is be expected, and up to a point is an understandable and healthy response.

While it’s reasonable to experience a range of anxiety, in stressful circumstances, this can tip over, and we can find ourselves constantly experiencing high levels of anxiety. This is not just a mental health concern. Research has shown that heightened anxiety experienced over a prolonged period of time leads to a weaker immune system. Without help, we can get stuck in an unhealthy cycle – we feel anxious, our minds becoming frozen, and we feed this fear by engaging more with what is making us anxious (such as constantly reading the news), and then we get more anxious.

Take your anxiety temperature: A quick and repeated survey can help you understand how much anxiety you are experiencing and allow you to adjust or seek help. The GAD-7 is a well-established, evidence-based approach to establishing a base-line of how anxious you are feeling. Scores of 5, 10 and 15 represent cut-off points for mild, moderate and severe anxiety, respectively. If you find you are scoring above 10, we recommend you discuss with your manager and/or your HR representative. In addition to support provided through medical insurance or Employee Assistance plan, the CGIAR GDI Function is sponsoring 700 hours of System-wide confidential Counselling support. This is especially for those with caregiving responsibilities, who are struggling with the pressures of juggling small children with working from home for extended periods, and those who are experiencing isolation in lockdown. This confidential source of support is also available to anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence.

Create new, positive routines that focus on your wellbeing: It’s important while working remotely and dealing with the other impacts and stresses of COVID-19 to consciously take care of your wellbeing. Use commitment mechanisms that help you hold yourself to account for better daily habits. For instance, use your commuting time to take an online exercise class, or agree with your team to have a virtual lunch or coffee breaks together so you can stay connected. Add calendar reminders at the end of each day to ensure you wrap up your workday and draw a clear line between home and work. Use evidence-based mental health and wellness support and resources. There are numerous free mindfulness applications that you can try.

Stay connected: Even though you may be in self-isolation, you can still stay connected to your extended family, friends, community and work colleagues. Schedule video calls with family and friendship groups to chat together. Have virtual breaks, book clubs, evening socials. Also keep communicating with your colleagues beyond just scheduled formal meetings, check in on each other and connect for 10 mins daily to stay connected.

Want to know more?

This is a great, evidenced-based series of four easy-to-watch webinars (25 minutes each) on how to deal with anxiety by Harvard Health.

All the guides in the series