Throughout the last 45 days our mental resolve and patience has been tested like never before. The outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease and the resulting Lockdown has caused a considerable amount of stress, fear and anxiety among all of us, and working from home has proven to be rather difficult. That’s why we thought it might be a good idea to talk about ways we can cope with stress and make the best of our current situation while we’re working from home. We’ll point out some simple things you can do to take care of yourself and help others cope.
- A Neat Workspace: As it turns out, working from home full time can be quite difficult and eventually takes a bit of a toll on our mental health, for many reasons. There are a few ways we can turn our workspace or home office into a positive, stress free and healthy place, though – this starts with an organised, clean and simple space. Try to keep your workspace as simple and clean as possible by getting rid of clutter and putting away whatever isn’t essential. Put some time into creating a space which is yours and looks the way you like it.
- Setting Boundaries: It’s time to have that talk with the spouse, the kids, or whoever is intruding in your workspace. Sit down with your loved ones and explain that your work time is your time; time that you will not be unnecessarily interrupted. If you are lucky enough to be enclosed in your own space with a door that closes, that’s the way to go. Also explain that work time is quiet time! If everyone plays their part, family and relaxation time can be spent in comfort later.
- Making Time to Chill: Working from home doesn’t mean you don’t need to take a break every now and then. Get outside (while sticking to social distancing guidelines) and stretch your legs, get some fresh air and take in some sunshine for a few minutes to clear your head. It’s been proven that human beings are most productive when working in sprints – work for 50-55 minutes and then take a 5-10 minute break, and repeat. It’s been proven your brain works best with this work/rest ratio, give it a shot.
- Sit Near a Window: Humans are more comfortable with our backs to the wall , and with a view of a window or a door somewhere around us. If you can find a room with a view of any kind of nature then this has the ability to reduce blood pressure and the circulation of stress hormones, and it increases the capacity for directed attention.
- Communicate and Manage Expectations: If you need to step away from your work for a while, your boss will understand! Let them know you need to grab some lunch, take a walk, check on the kids, whatever it is you need to do. Everybody needs a breather, make sure that you communicate your needs and manage the expectations of those you work with.
- Remove Distractions: Often easier said than done, but identify the source of your distractions and get them out of the way. Set time aside to deal with things that otherwise become distracting and dedicate your time to those things at set intervals. A little bit of clever planning and time management can go a long way – try to set up and stick to a daily routine as much as possible. Also try to restrict media and social media coverage to prevent it from becoming too overwhelming.
- Look After Yourself: It may seem obvious but the simple things make a world of difference. This includes getting enough sleep, eating healthy, well balanced meals, getting enough exercise and even meditating when you can. At the bare minimum, just stop to stretch and take a few deep breaths. Take a shower (there’s bracing evidence to suggest that a cold shower can boost your mood and attention). Try dressing like you normally would too – more than just keeping up appearances, it helps to put your brain in work mode. Healthy habits go a long way in getting you into a positive state of mind. Also keep in mind you’re not getting as much sunlight as usual, why not take a Vitamin D supplement? Lastly, try to stay away from drinking too much coffee!
- Connect With Others: Put time aside to talk to people about your concerns and how you are feeling. If you don’t have someone to talk to at home, remember we are just a phone call away, even if you just want to vent or make small talk! Stay connected with loved ones by sending them a message to let them know you’re thinking of them.
- Try Something New! When you’re not working, it’s a great time to start a new project or try a new hobby you’ve never had time for. Start a home improvement project, try to cook a new recipe, listen to a podcast, read a book, learn a new language or watch a movie. The possibilities are endless, and you finally have some time to yourself – at least for the most part.
- And on the lighter side… stay away from the fridge! Easier said than done right?
Find more resources such as links, call centres and hotlines at https://www.gov.za/Coronavirus.