Social distancing, flattening the curve and shelter-in-place are catchphrases for many of us, that less than two months ago, weren’t part of our vocabulary. However, that was before the global Coronavirus pandemic gripped the world, upended our lives and now has us wondering if they’ll ever be the same again.
As the news surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic grows bleaker by the day, anxiety about the economy, our health, safety and overall well-being make it difficult to focus on much else. And since most of us have been directed to work from home to help slow the spread of the Coronavirus, this new reality is even more challenging.
Doctors and psychiatrists note that maintaining both mental and physical health is important at a time like this.
In a recent Forbes Magazine article (March 24, 2020), Dr. Kelly Vincent, a licensed clinical psychologist practicing in Encinitas California, explained that pandemics like the one we’re experiencing often ignite fear, anxiety and erratic behaviors. “When fear takes control, both our nervous system and emotional part of our brain go into overdrive, said Dr. Vincent. “This response can lead to impulsiveness, panic and feeling out of control emotionally.”
Dr. Vincent added that the situation is exacerbated particularly for those suffering from preexisting mental illness or who have a history with anxiety and depression.
So, what can you do if you’re just an average Joe or Jane working from home but are having a tough time adjusting and coping amid the pandemic? Fortunately, there are a few things I’ve found during my telework transition, that can help bring some normalcy back to your life during this abnormal time.
- STICK TO A SCHEDULE—It’s far from business as usual but adapting your office work routine to your home schedule really helps you stay focused. While it may be tempting to lounge around in your pajamas, dressing for work–even casually–puts you in a work-oriented state of mind.
- HAVE SPACE, WON’T TRAVEL—Even if you don’t have a designated office to do your work, find a place in your home that you can work from free of distractions whether it’s a part of your bedroom or your family room. Make it your go-to spot for work. This will also help keep you from roaming around the house—peeking in the refrigerator—and focused on your tasks at hand.
- LIMIT YOUR MEDIA CONSUMPTION—While it’s important to keep informed about the Coronavirus pandemic particularly since events change on the hour, consider limiting watching TV and social media use. Instead, get periodic alerts on your devices to stay informed throughout the day. This may help minimize stress and anxiety resulting from the barrage of unsettling news.
- MOVE IT—Use your lunch hour to go for a walk, a short bike ride or anything else that can get you up and moving and clear your mind for a bit. This will give you a boost of energy and make you feel good too.
- YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT: No more excuses about not having time to cook. Besides, nothing beats a great, home-cooked meal. Preparing healthy food with lots of fruits and vegetables can go a long way to boosting your immune system and improving your physical and mental health overall.
- EXHALE: THIS TOO SHALL PASS—It may not seem like it now, but this Coronavirus pandemic will eventually come to an end. And as hard and annoying as it is to adhere to the stay-in-place and social distancing guidelines, it’s vital we all do so to get through this devastating chapter in our lives.
Remember, if you suffer from mental health issues and need help, The California Department of Consumer Affairs licenses mental health professionals through the Board of Behavioral Sciences (https://www.bbs.ca.gov/) and the California Board of Psychology (https://www.psychology.ca.gov/). To locate a professional near you, please visit search.dca.ca.gov.