I put out the call to members of our team for their insights into how to manage your mental health during an unprecedented change in everyday life, that we are seeing now because of the Coronavirus. Vanessa heeded the call and shared the 6 things that are keeping her sane during insane times 🙂
So, onto the beginning of week three working from home. With it has come logistical challenges, such as the internet dropping in and out, trying to find information, staying connected with others, not to mention managing noise as my neighbour is in the midst of significant renos with jackhammers and angle grinders going full blast. In addition to these logistical challenges has come waves of varying emotion given that life as we know it is changing at what feels to be a fast pace. The world has felt very different and it has felt like not much is within my control.
No doubt many of you are feeling similarly and perhaps feeling a level of anxiety and uncertainty and also concerned about how you are going to manage your studies and trying to navigate the challenges of studying at home as well as all the other changes and challenges that are occurring as a result of COVID-19.
So even though its early days and I am sure over the coming weeks this may vary and change, I thought I would share some of what is helping me get through at present with regards to transitioning to work at home and looking after my wellbeing:
Keeping some semblance of routine. I have been endeavouring to continue starting the day with a brief mindfulness exercise and I am still trying to get out of bed at the same time, shower (and even get dressed!) even though I don’t have to travel or go in to the office. I am aiming to stick to similar foods and routines to what I would have in a normal workday. Although yesterday I ate a pie and donut and it was delicious, and hey – balance 😊
Reduce distractions. It is harder for me to be focussed at home so I’m working on keeping distractions to a minimum where possible – namely my phone out of arms reach – and I have been taking short breaks after a focussed period of time working (at the moment in the sun with a cuppa) to help me re-focus. I’ve also taken the time to tidy my workspace and use noise cancelling headphones which are great.
Keeping active. Physical activity has been a big part of my daily routine so knowing at the end of the day I can go for a run or walk, or do some yoga, is helping me get through. I have found because I can’t go to the gym it is helping me to be creative with home workouts (I have even used pumpkins from the veggie patch as hand weights!), or jump on the bike. I have been more conscious of walking through the bush of late which also is a lovely way to connect with nature and appreciate this as well as help create a sense of calm.
Staying connected. Just seeing my workmates on video each morning has been great to still feel part of a team as well as help me focus and keep motivated, and FaceTime’ing or Skyping family and friends to check in and see how they are as well as stay connected with them is really helpful.
Normalising a range of emotions. With compassion. I went to do the grocery shopping yesterday and the whole time all I wanted to do was cry. I have found myself becoming easily frustrated with things that wouldn’t normally bother me and irritated at others. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions this pandemic. I have had to remind myself the last several weeks has brought about significant change, uncertainty, fear and upheaval for many people in my community, country and the world and it is a really difficult time right now, and as much as possible to go easy with and take care of myself so I can go easy with and take care of others. This has included prioritising activities that help me feel grounded and create a sense of calm such as yoga, lots of mindful breathing and exercising so I can cope and help others to cope.
Focussing on the good and setting limits around the not-so-good. If we look at the news it is a constant stream of how bad things are and things are changing at a rapid rate, as well as people’s behaviour in response to that fear. Sure, we have seen people hoarding toilet paper and panic buying, but we have also seen beautiful displays of people reaching out, extending care to others and reflecting on our interconnectedness in amongst this. I have heard of people putting notes in their elderly neighbours’ letterboxes offering to do a grocery run if needed, even offering up toilet roll! My neighbours have come over and offered beautiful fruit from their garden for us. I’ve been making an effort to focus on this and all the good in my life within this difficult time and be mindful about how much I am exposing myself to news sources at the moment.
Yes, life feels strange at the moment and as said I have felt that not a lot has been in my control. What I have been trying to do is focus on what is possible for me to take responsibility for or have some degree of control over. For me this has been about prioritising self-care and coping strategies to help me ride the waves of emotions and access some calm and perspective, establish some home routines, check in with family and friends and consider how I want to act with those I love as well as those I come into contact with through my work, my friends, and in everyday life in line with my values. One of the biggest acts of love and care many of us are focussed on right now is staying at home for the sake of others health. Focussing on what I can do to care for myself and others, in the midst of much change, uncertainty and fear, and focussing on the good right now is what is helping me get through.