Since the COVID-19 virus went wild and decided to be a pandemic last March 2020, most of the companies around the globe are forced to implement work from home arrangements in order to prevent the spread of the virus, as well as to safeguard the welfare of their workforce. But, as of today, February 2021, almost a year since the quarantine, how are you, really?
If you’re one of those who have already been summoned to your workplace due to the slight relaxation of the quarantine classification, please take extra, extra, extra care once you step out of your homes. But, if you belong to the fortunate ones who can still work from home, then you pretty much still can relate to this: Cabin fever, but you still need to work it through the day to tick everything off your list, right?
Yes, some days are good, some days are rough, but in general, no one can deny that this quarantine really took a toll on our mental health. Today, I’m going to share some insights on how to keep it together while this quarantine thing is still on the run, based on my personal experience and from some reading references (but mostly, on my personal experience).
In all honesty, this quarantine challenged my sanity, since I’m an ambivert and a wanderlust, and I already planned everything since I accepted this work anywhere job post. To simply put:I planned to have days working in my PJs and I also planned to have days where I get to work outside the realm of our abode, but COVID-19 ruined most of it, retaining just the indoor part. I’m a married woman and a furmom of 2 active doggos, so you can imagine the amount of energy I need to get through the day (mad props to my Husband for taking over the chores when I’m going to be stuck in a 5-hour client meeting of sort, and for delivering merienda when I cannot get up because I’m in the middle of finishing an article, like what’s happening now).
Everyday is indeed a challenge for all of us, but one thing’s for sure: we need to thrive. So, here are some nuggets of wisdom I learned while working from home since March of 2020:
Adjust your routine
I put this on the top simply because it is a must and a need. If you still have a messed up routine until today, I highly recommend that you fix it ASAP. Being able to adjust your routine will make a huge difference in dealing with your day-to-day activities at home.
As for me, pre-pandemic, both my husband and I commute to work, I wake up at 3:30 AM to prepare his breakfast and continue sleeping when after I receive his SMS that he’s already in transit. And wakes up again at 8 AM to prepare for my work at 10 AM. Sometimes, when I overstay in dreamland, I go to a 7-eleven outside our village to grab a quick bite and a coffee, before heading in transit.
Whereas since the start of the quarantine, I already started planning our weekly menu, from breakfast to dinner, and I wake up at a particular time in the morning to make our breakfast, and our own coffee, before opening my work-related apps. Sure, it sucks not to have your usual Starbucks or McDo coffee and smell that oozing aroma all of a sudden, but hey, you can be your own barista at home and experiment with various coffee flavors, right?
If you also need office vibes for you not to lose focus, designate workspace/s in your home. I, for one, did this, although at times, I just feel like sitting on the floor.
A bit of self-help but these are some significant factors that would help you adjust accordingly.
Socialize with your teammatesPhoto courtesy of Anna Shvets via Pexels
This is quite hard for extroverts since the COVID-19 virus strips the privilege of having face-to-face interactions. But in order to thrive, we need to adapt. You can start by simply having a conversation with your teammate, checking him/her day, like the usual chitchat in the office, sans the usual marehan in the pantry.
In small increments, you can build this virtual rapport in your team until it becomes a habit to each and everyone.
In our team, aside from the monthly general meeting that we have, not a single pass by without a meme or a joke to talk about in our group chat, or a simple, “What’s for lunch?” “Hey, it’s 4 PM, coffee time!”
Even small but meaningful talks will improve your relationship with your colleagues as well as in vibing their mood for the day. I mean, the pandemic has been a real downer, right or right?
We all have the “in the zone” moment, wherein we put DND into our office communicator statuses so as not to be disturb by any notifications. And, we also have a time when we are distracted and cannot focus our attention on work. This situation has gone tenth fold this pandemic, but we can keep it together so as to not be too overwhelmed by the current situation of the world.
Stand up every 30 minutes, 1 hour, or every 2 hours. Stretch a little, maybe check out your favorite k-pop idol’s instagram, have a 30-second dance party (Aye, Grey’s Anatomy fans!), put ice on your cold brew, read a chapter on your current book, eat, pet your dog, tease your spouse.
Anything under the sun that would relieve your stress and anxiety. In my case, when I need to write (like what I’m doing now), I sit for a couple of hours in front of my machine, and when I can’t get something to write after an hour, I browse cute babies and dogs on instagram and play music while reading articles related to my writing assignment. And voila, the creative juice is flowing once again (Hail, Hello by Adele because I sing along to this earlier, and Do siblings of the Return of The Superman).
Taking breaks can also mean doing something out of your regular routine. Say for instance, on weekdays, you stay indoors, but on weekends, you go out to jog or to walk your dog.
This quarantine, the bicycle has been a major necessity most especially here in the Philippines, as a means of transportation. I, myself, experienced it since I am the only one who’s allowed to go out and I am not that confident taking our motorcycle with me outside. I never thought that Vanilla (my bike) who is my exercise buddy from 2019 will be a means of transportation for me come April 2020. I almost got a bike basket because I feel like I’m going to stumble biking with a bag full of groceries both on my right and left shoulders.
Take your breaks generously, be kinder to yourself.
Shut down news once in a while
This is close to home since I experience anxiety as I regularly check the news since the pandemic started. It somehow haunted me that there are days I cannot consume good news due to anxiety.
And that is the time when I realized the importance of taking care not only of our physical health but also of our mental health.
While I step out on the news updates, I focus my time on the web on other things, like baking tutorials, indoor plants care, online shopping of home furniture, and the like. I made room for other things that will take my mind off the current situation of your world, and it is healthy to reward yourself the luxury of letting loose.
In this time and day of age, communicating is just a piece of cake because of the technology. But, please be mindful that not all of us can open up, most especially if you’re stuck at home and becoming a melancholic since the quarantine. Amid it, being hard, talking is a big step. Just a simple conversation of how you are feeling can ease up a lot of load into your system.
Talk to your best friend at work, your high school bestie, your spouse, your supervisor. I’m sure all of us have stories about this pandemic. We all need to let it out, and we just need someone to listen. Fortunately, my husband (I sometimes talk to him via chat since I am not a big talker when it comes to anxiety), friends, and even my boss willingly listens and even shares their quarantine stories, everything just to make each and everyone feel loved and understood, most especially in pandemic.
Ah, yes, it is already the new year, the new decade, but we are still stuck in our homes. Extraordinary times require an extraordinary amount of resiliency. Let’s count on each other so that we can all stay healthy and sane until this pandemic is over.
But for now, see you soon!