COVID-19 has lots of us working from home. COVID-19 has lots of us struggling with our mental health.
Working from home generally brings two things, sometimes together, sometimes one or the other, and that is: isolation, and burnout — which are rarely ever good for our mental health. And essentially this virus has given both of these dudes the O-K to invade our lives. Let’s talk about ways to stave them off.
First of all we’re being told by public health officials to SOCIAL DISTANCE and SELF-ISOLATE. While I fully realize that these things are not identical, they do have similar impacts on our mental health.
For those of us who do this kind of thing anyway — avoid contact, stay in isolation, the announcement that we in fact should most definitely continue do that can feel exciting in some ways. Let the jokes — about depression and social anxiety & having practiced for this your entire life — begin. However you also know that these are NO BUENO for your salud mental.
I am blessed that my organization has been using Zoom calls almost daily. I try to keep up with as many of these as possible because it gives me the normalcy and connection the most similar to being in the office. That, plus the communication benefits, is really the goal of these video calls. If your organization isn’t using any type of video or phone conference call, recommend Zoom.
Every morning when I hop online to work, I connect with the people I connect with as if i were in the office on G chat. This routine keeps human interaction the most similar to being in the office. It also helps grow (or maintain) your connection with coworkers.
This next point actually connects isolation and burnout. As someone with obsessive compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), I sort of feel like I can’t not be working when I’m on the clock. Logically that makes sense. But I mean, you can not work. So my advice is to take some friendly work calls, not just work work-calls.
Not related to workplace isolation but isolation in general — consider calling some different people — i.e. not your friends or your coworkers. Specifically I plan to call my little cousins. How could that not bring some goodness to my day and theirs?
Lack of boundaries is really what leads us to burnout. When working from home, we lack the boundary of when is work and when is not work. Where is work and where is not work? There is no physical boundary like there usually is when you commute home or to work.
I talked about this in my healthy habits in the workplace video — set your boundary. For me that looks like being available on phone and email from 8 to 4 each day. If there is an emergency, a coworker or boss must CALL my personal cell phone. Because I’m not checking email outside of 8 to 4 each weekday.
Here’s the kicker! You have to actually abide by your boundary. DO NOT CHECK YOUR EMAIL. STOP IT.
To additionally stave away burnout, consider establishing A PROJECT or TWO projects for after work/non-work hours. These projects will give you something to look forward to / do / a plan for the evenings or weekends that excites you, or the end result excites you, etc.
Establishing ONLY A PROJECT or TWO projects is important because you should NOT have a long-ass to-do list. Being overly ambitious just makes me feel bad about myself when I don’t get everything done, and it makes me not want to start the list because I know I won’t finish everything. How off-putting. If you’re a person who has next to 10 or 20 things on a to-do list at a time, you can spread that to-do list out over 1-2 months, assigning 2-3 things per week. It really will get done when you do it this way. If you do it the other way, it’s just a list of thoughts, not actions that you’re planning to take. But I digress!
The good things
One final tip for working from home is tuning into the good things, or the okay things. this is also a way of practicing the abundance mindset instead of the scarcity mindset.
You have to define these “good things” for yourself… and actually get creative with them. The good things may look like: you have control over noise/smell/food; you can stretch out, you don’t have to wear shoes, you can be with your dog all day, you can technically not do your work the whole day. There is an abundance of good things.
I found an awesome HUB for mental health resources you may need. It’s by NAMI and you can find it here.
Included is the crisis text line number which is 741741, but there are also SO MANY other hotlines, warmlines, text lines, etc.
Thank you, as always!
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P.S. in case we haven’t met…
you seem normal is a mental health medium run by 24-year-old communication professional (hello!) who… well, seems normal. Turns out, my roommate is mental illness. Actually more like my unborn, and non-conceived baby. Because it’s like, inside of me. This is getting weird already. Topics of focus: self-awareness (we love it), mood, anger management, perfectionism, relationships & boundaries.