Working from home sounded like many people’s dream until not long ago, but how can we best cope when we are forced to stay home as part of the Coronavirus crisis.
Managing the anxiety that these uncertain times brings up in us isn’t easy. Being forced to stay inside might sound like an introvert’s dream come true, but when it’s in the midst of a worldwide epidemic and everyone is panicking, it’s not such a fun and relaxing time.
So for starters let’s give ourselves some credit, we’re here and we’re coping thus far. Let’s take a few deep breaths and let’s brace ourselves for what will be a time filled with challenges and possibly also great learning and development.
Identifying triggers is key when dealing with the unknown, with change and the anxiety that can come from it. So let’s have a look together at what the biggest challenges could be and how we may make the most of them.
Challenge #1 separating work from leisure: juggling the personal and professional aspects of one’s life in the same space, while managing your workload alone, isn’t something you transition into overnight. Set yourself a work schedule and follow it as closely as possible. This will allow you to be productive and enjoy off time to relax and do things that are enjoyable and inspiring.
Challenge #2 where to work: choose a specific area of your home or your living room dedicated for your work. Ideally clearly separate it from the rest of the house. This helps your brain to understand when you’re in working mode and when you’re off. To facilitate this process, make a clear action that indicates that you’re done working for the day, like closing your computer, clearing up the working area or shutting the door.
Challenge #3 time-management: avoid switching between work and leisure all day long. This will blur the two areas in your mind and most probably make you constantly think of work, even at times when you can’t do much about it such as during the night time, as well as feel guilty when you take time off.
Challenge #4 confinement: if it’s safe, make sure you take at least one walk outside of the house each day. Staying at home all day, every day can be very tough for your mental health.
Challenge #5 me, myself and I: if you can’t leave the house, you’ll be spending much more time with yourself than usual and to some this can prove to be very difficult. To avoid feeling overwhelmed by negative self-talk, make sure you set a nice working area for yourself. Create a healthy environment for yourself, make the bed, make yourself a nice cup of tea or coffee, allow plenty of light into your work room.
Challenge #6 isolation: not being able to socialise as before and connect to people around you as much as you’d like is threatening our basic human nature. As humans we are social beings and isolation can be extremely detrimental for our wellbeing. To combat isolation call your friends, FaceTime, Skype them, rant, gossip, laugh! Engage with colleagues on non-work related topics on Slack, video calls, etc. Call your family and friends with some regularity — you’ll probably need it, and so will they.
Challenge #7 loads of time to fill: being at home is a great opportunity to indulge in your favourite hobbies. Disconnect from work by drawing, cooking, playing games, singing, meditating, reading all those books you’ve always wanted to read. Taking online courses can be a great way to keep your mind and curiosity engaged and further your knowledge and skill set. Be as strict with your me-time as with your work schedule.
Challenge #8 staying healthy: eat healthy meals and try to avoid eating as many snacks as you can. Working from home will mean you’ll be moving much less so reducing your calorie intake is a good idea. Dance, stretch, exercise regularly as your body will probably start feeling stiff after a while. This will also boost your wellbeing and focus!
Challenge #9 self-love: Be kind to yourself and remember that it takes effort to establish new habits. Take this time as an opportunity to connect with your sense of purpose and gratitude.
Challenge #10 finding balance: if you feel that your mental health isn’t in a good place, don’t be ashamed to seek professional help. At InsideOut you can access online therapy and coaching on your phone. You can find us here.
Finally, reminding ourselves that we can all do something to reduce the possibility of contagion, can also support our sense of control in such times.
Here are some top tips for staying healthy in times of the Coronavirus crisis
- Wash your hands, for at least 20 seconds. If it helps try singing Happy Birthday or an other song to keep the tempo! Always wash your hands when you enter your home or workplace
- Reduce time spent in public spaces
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean
- Moderate news intake and avoid exposure to mass hysteria online
- If working from home, create a calming environment for yourself to focus in
- Practice deep breathing and calming mindfulness meditations
- Reach out for help if you feel your mental health is being negatively impacted
If someone you know gets infected with the virus, or quarantined, be there for them as much as you (safely) can. Call them, or just send a playlist, some memes, or nice links. And even if you can’t go, hang out with them, consider doing something nice for them like making a card or cooking them a meal and leaving it outside their door, which is safe to do.
For extra info on the Coronavirus you can contact or read:
NHS 111 online coronavirus service NHS 111 Online – What to do coronavirus (COVID-19)
NHS Coronavirus advice for travellers
Government Action Plan
Author: Sarah Speziali, Chief Therapist at InsideOut
Date: 15th March, 2020