I’ll be blogging my way through the Coronavirus period, with a focus on the psychological impacts and how to keep yourself and the people you care about safe and mentally healthy.
Look after yourself peeps..
Dr Gareth Furber
Something strange is happening.
I am getting more social.
The more restrictions they put in place in terms of social distancing and working from home and self-isolation, the more I find myself reaching out and re-establishing lines of connection with people. I’ve chatted and talked to more people today that I reckon I speak to in a normal week (granted that might be an indictment on my previous level of antisociality).
So whilst other people I know are feeling deprived in terms of social interaction, I am actually feeling more connected.
Whilst I am perfectly capable of interacting socially face-to-face, I do tend to find it mildly anxiety-provoking. When connection is mediated through the computer, often with the body language cues removed or reduced, I find it easier. I’m not totally sure why that is the case. Is anyone else finding it socially easier now?
I will admit though, it is coming a little bit at the cost of productivity. To maintain those connections I have the following open at any one time:
- 3 x email accounts
- Microsoft Teams
- SMS on phone
So basically my computer or phone are pinging about once a minute. Which means my attention span has turned to crap. I’m a digital meerkat.
But I’m not too worried.
Since starting working from home I’ve been more particular about assigning specific hours of the day to specific projects. I am playing with getting routines in place (walking, breaks, food, weight training, meditation, gardening). I haven’t got them all established yet, but I am on the way. I’m enjoying trying to find efficiencies in both work but also health/wellbeing. I’m acutely aware that my ability to sustain long-term working from home will be the product of maintaining habits that are both productive but also health-inducing.
So what is the takeaway message from this sickeningly positive rambling?
Basically, that there are usually silver linings in many of the challenges we face. Admittedly, sometimes those silver linings don’t present themselves for a while. Go through a bad break-up and it might be months before the benefits of it show themselves. Lose your job and it might be a long while before you can see that shitty experience as having a positive side.
But when we are talking about smaller setbacks (e.g. having to move to online study, less time spent in person with friends), the silver linings might present themselves sooner. Maybe you find your ability to focus and work for extended periods increases. Maybe you finally launch a hobby you’ve always wanted to explore. Maybe you discover you weren’t resting enough and extra time at home is helping you re-energise. You’ll finally master FLO and become a FLO Ninja.
This isn’t me ignoring the challenges of the social distancing and wider shutdown rules that have been put in place. But trust me, you’ll find plenty of content online talking about how to deal with the negatives. In fact, my suggested reading for this diary entry are a couple of documents from the Australian Psychological Society on how to manage coronavirus anxiety and sustain your mental health during social isolation.
Your brain (and mine) are uniquely gifted at telling us everything that sucks and dismissing any potential upsides. You redress that balance by searching for positives, not trying to pretend the negatives don’t exist.
Shit happens. Bad shit is happening right now. But you’re already acutely aware of that. Now is the time that we all try to construct something workable out of the options we have left to us. If you find a silver lining in that process, hold onto it, try to grow it. I know that I’ll work hard to sustain the additional social connectedness I’ve found in the process of working from home (yes, that sentence shouldn’t make sense).
And if you want to send me a digital ‘bird’ because my cheeriness is annoying you, there are about 500 platforms on which you can catch me right now 🙂