Wellbeing Coping successfully with confinement. Geneviève Thiaucourt tells us how.

Coping successfully with confinement. Geneviève Thiaucourt, a doctor and Saint-Gobain's Medical and Occupational Health Director, answers us. 

Since the beginning of the Coronavirus crisis, Geneviève Thiaucourt has been working to deploy health measures throughout the Group to ensure the health and safety of all employees. Today, while many are living through a new situation of confinement, she gives us her advice on how to get through this period.

This COVID-19 crisis has put the entire planet into an unprecedented and disturbing situation. As a doctor and Medical Director for Saint-Gobain, have you identified any risks to avoid?

This situation is not without having an effect on our health. It increases anxiety, especially because it is an external force that has taken over our lives. We are somewhat disorientated, making us irritable. We are less able to concentrate; we might be bored and suffering from the isolation and the uncertainty. Those on short-time working may start to suffer a loss of worth. 

Many emotions are competing to gain dominance. You have to take notice of them, embrace them and accept them. You have to realize that they are temporary and share them with those around you, because that will help. Finally, try to find the positive in the previous day to help you hang on.

Those in complete isolation must also take care of their physical wellbeing. When you are stuck between four walls, your outlook is very limited and the lack of physical activity can get you down. The quality of sleep is often affected, which can lead to eating more and unwelcome weight gain. Remember, when we are not moving, our basic dietary requirement is on average just 1,500 calories.

What can everyone do to avoid these risks and overcome stressful situations?

The first thing to do is reduce media noise, limit your time consuming information that can be terrifying and contradictory.

Then, create a routine outside work, as it is reassuring and provides structure. However, make sure that it is good routine with positive activities: read, listen to music and podcasts, watch films and series that you hadn't had time to watch before and play games. That is: have some me-time. And it goes without saying, get some physical exercise. Because at the end of the day, you have to have achieved something positive outside any satisfaction you get from work. 

At the same time, when you are confined with your children, you have to set aside some time for yourself, even if it is not all that easy to do. Take time to do some relaxation exercises, especially if you are feeling anxious or stressed. There are cardiac coherence breathing exercises to help. 

When you are in complete lockdown, how do you maintain contact with the outside world?

Keeping in touch with the outside world is indeed crucial, even remotely. However, I recommend being careful to choose only people who have your wellbeing at heart.

It can also help to be there for others, for example, by joining a community group (calling isolated people, delivering groceries to people unable to leave home, etc.). In addition to reducing boredom and frustration, this provides contact with others, positive feedback and especially a sense being useful, which is essential in these destabilizing times. 

Managers have a crucial role to play. For people working from home, the idea is “everyone at home, but all working together." In addition to a call every day or three days, above all, you need to pay attention to the quality of the relationship you have with your colleagues. It needs to be sincere, not too intrusive and reciprocal – we are all dealing with the same difficulties. In particular, we need to put boundaries around work time, because this situation with its endless telephone and video-conference calls is exhausting.

This unprecedented and serious situation can also be an opportunity to pay more attention to yourself and others, to focus more on what is essential, strengthen relationships with colleagues to build sincere working practices devoid of petty issues. This can create a solid base for demonstrating the strength of the human asset in our individual and collective performance.