We provide children with tools to deal with worries, as adults we sometimes just forget how to use them
Working from home and Covid-19
I work from home and while Covid-19 did not drastically change my work routine, it did affect everything else. I can handle chaos for a little while but an ongoing imposed lifestyle takes its toll. Maintaining mental strength is important to get through these uncertain times.
Three months after repatriation from Timor Leste, I hit a proverbial hurdle realising that the pandemic was here to stay longer than expected. The risk of catching it, social distancing, disrupted routines and the lack of certainty in my career, affected me. I went to the Blue Mountains for a few days and came back resolved to deal with my worries as a physically and mentally healthy person.
Worrying is normal. Excessive worrying however leads to anxiety and health issues, and also impacts your relationships with others. People worry about exams, finances, becoming a parent or about losing someone dear. Some worry about socialising, being bullied, a career choice, and some about love. Did you know that caffeine also makes you worry more? During Covid-19 we may miss working in teams, have trouble with routines, or are unable to see progress.
Not everyone worries equally about the same thing for a variety of reasons. Tools to manage worry triggers are helpful, especially as there are always unavoidable events in life.
First of all, seeking medical advice is essential when worrying starts to affect your personal relationships, your ability to enjoy life and to function day to day. View this checklist by Black Dog Institute
Set Boundaries when working from home
One advantage of working from home is your control over your own time and space. Your home is now also your work place. As in all spaces sharing different functions, boundaries are essential. In a busy apartment stake your corner of the table, put on earphones to listen to sounds that help you concentrate, and place a physical sign stating you are at work. Occupy the table at those times when it is not in use for other things like meals. which assists with time and paperwork management.
This may sound strange for adults to do but teenagers do it all the time with ‘No Entry’ on their bedroom door, and the ability to sit in a crowded room isolated of what is going on around them. So for children, seeing you do this will not be strange.
I live alone and set up a specific space for work where I do only that. My ‘standard’ work hours are 30 hours per week with most productivity between 10am and 3pm. My eating times are regular and fluid intake of water and herbal teas is high, and I also limit myself to one large coffee around noon.
Connecting with people happens when you relate with shared experiences, insights or goals. In a workspace, connecting is easy with a short smile, shared lunch and a quick call to check something. When working from home, connections happen in a short set time frame, with a task and efficiency focus, giving little opportunity for other interaction. To contact a co-worker outside those meetings may appear intrusive as approaching someone at home is different to an office.
I regularly join online seminars to connect with others on work and non-work topics. This expands my horizon and challenges me to think outside the square. I also joined a Friday card club in which I learn a new game every month.
The daily commute is for many a time to switch off from work, and a time to be outside. When you work from home, this phase is missing. Outside air, physical activity and no-screen time are important detox methods to switch off. When you live in an apartment block, walk down the stairs, around the block and up again. When you live in a house, build in a short walk to the shops for minor shopping at the end of the day. Work with the windows open when possible, or just lie down on the balcony, being quiet, listening to the sounds around you.
Set a daily Worry Period
Write down worry thoughts when they arise, put them in a special jar and review them during a set time period every day. This method of putting them aside while working from home allows you to concentrate on work. During your Worry Period, challenge your worries on their probability of happening, what you would say to a friend with this worry, and if the worrying is helping you. Assess if the worry is solvable, and if not, accept its uncertainty.
“Allocating my worry thoughts to a particular space and time for review helps me a lot because it gives me much more time to feel good about things, which in turn builds my defense against worrying”Carina – Nov 2020