By Teodora Goloiu, Mind & Body coach
How do you stay happy/ motivated/ healthy when you have to work from home for months?
Corona and its implications in our lives is the most important topic of research now. The more quality information you have, the better you can cope. Here is my perspective, as a mind and body coach.
Restrictions, isolation, safety, constant worry, no handshakes, no hugs, no dancing, no meetings. What before gave you security and the feeling of belonging, is now full of rules and interdiction words.
And some people can experience it more: work from home people.
Lately, I hear this all the time: you wake up, inside the house. You eat, inside the house. You work the entire day, you are still in the same house. You finished work and hoping to escape the routine and relax…oh..still your house. And is again time to go to bed. Alarm goes off the second day…yes…you get it.
Here are some aspects that I would like to reflect with you and tell you that you are not alone and that you have options.
Implications for the mind when you work from home and tips to feel better.
1.You might feel bored. You lack the stimulation that you usually have at the work place. Your mind is not offered anymore enough stimulating activity to process: seeing your colleagues, seeing their outfits, hearing their voices and ideas, the complexity of the environment, your emotions in relation with them, the enjoyment of a coffee break or a short story about your weekend, all in combination with some smiles.
- TIP: Improve the level of visual/tactile/olfactory stimulation you have at home.
- Take breaks from the computer and distract yourself with observing life over your window or balcony for a few minutes. World is still there and you are still part of it! Focus on colors, movement, details.
- Buy fresh flowers of different colors, different plants, senzorial objects with diverse lights and textures (check online for ideas), create a decoration object for your desk. Take constantly a few moments and just observe them mindfully, in detail.
- Buy a magazine of your interest, sudoku, crosswords, quiz, mind game and give yourself a few minutes daily to focus on them. Keep the mind curious to solve new things.
- Buy scented candles or aroma therapy kit. Make your environment cozy, use room perfume, a tea with flavor and keep the room light and clean.
2.You might feel distracted. You have a list of things to do or even a deadline, but seems that every 5 minutes you just pick your phone and check it. Again and again and you just keep losing focus. Nothing important there, but still you are updated continuously with every Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat post. You might not like this, but this one is in your power.
- TIP: Put the phone aside for 30 minutes. Away from your vision. On silent. Just let it there for 30 minutes. Decide first and then keep the decision to only check it after the 30 minutes. Build the control.
Use instead relaxation music on the background.
3.You might feel less productive. Theoretically you have much more time now, right? With no transportation to the office needed, time to get ready for the office, or time lost with distractions from your chatty colleagues. But… it can also be like working on a constant Sunday afternoon, is harder to get the energy flowing.
- TIP: Don’t blame yourself for it, but make sure you are not using it as an excuse to procrastinate.
- Boost your energy: Regularly, choose a song that you love. Put it loud in the speakers or headphones and just enjoy it, let it uplift your mood. Move, dance, sing and picture yourself in a happy full of energy place. Use that energy and get things done for the next half an hour. With no phone around…
- Make a list of duties. Every morning start by making/checking your list for the day and also add a few goals for the week. Keep the list on your sight. Even if you didn’t accomplish everything at the end of the day/week, no worries, but this way your brain has a clear picture of your goals and works for keeping you focused.
4.You might feel trapped in negative emotions: feeling mentally trapped, or anxious, sad, stressed, can give you a fake feeling of being powerless or without control. This is a very large topic to cover, but I can definitely assure you, you are not alone and this is normal in a certain degree. But it has solution. Feeling trapped is actually just a “feeling”, it is a perception.
Let me give you the example of an experiment conducted by Martin Seligman on dogs, as an expansion of Pavlov’s bell ring conditioning theory. Seligman wanted to observe how we create the perception over power or helplessness and how we develop this perceptions. So, on two dogs, after he rang his bell (when initially Pavlov would offer food to the dogs), instead of providing food, he zapped them with electricity. (the ethical aspect of this experiment can be a topic for another article:)).To keep them still, he restrained them in a harness during the experiment.
After they were conditioned, he put these dogs in a big box with a little fence. They figured if they rang the bell, the dogs would hop over the fence to escape, but…guess what…they didn’t. They just sat there and accepted the lack of power they have been taught, over their possibility of escaping, even though the shocks have stopped. Interesting enough?
We could translate this into our own mental cage that we can sometimes build. Ideas like: “how could this help me, why even bother, this won’t change my situation much, it is easier to just accept it, is too hard, is useless, it doesn’t matter that much anyway,”, can keep you from taking small actions for empowering yourself for increasing your well being.
Use affirmations like: I trust myself! I can motivate myself to get things done! I am patient and doing my best! I am proud with everything I do in these hard circumstances, I would love to do more, but I am taking things step by step and I a still growing and managing things how I know best! Every small good decision I take takes me closer to my goal, for shorter and longer term.
Also: Ask for support! Take action! You might be surprised how many other people will relate to you. Ventilate!
5.You might feel isolated. Not being able to get the positive feedback from your interactions with pears, friends, extended social group can make you less enthusiastic about yourself or your life. Hugs, hand shakes and direct meetings with friends/colleagues are important for our emotional validation.
- TIP: Always plan something to look forward to, at the end or the day and at the end of the week. Every morning when you wake up, you should know your plan for the work, but also the plan for your happy to look forward moment after work.
- Make a plan to be enthusiastic about, like something nice to cook, a walk in a beautiful spot you like, read a book you like, cook your favorite meal, go to buy something you like, take a bike ride, go do our hair, call a friend, go to the gym, go to a dance class, go to the cinema, learn something new. You name it.
- Invite a close friend for a walk, send them a kind message, start dating or focus more on your relationship or family. After finishing your work schedule, try to avoid the couch and TV for the entire evening/weekend.
6.You might feel unhappy. Your life has changed and you want it or not..this is how it is for the next months. What you can do here, for making your life better, as you deserve, is to work on your perception over things. Even the worst situations can have a good side.
- TIP: find three positive things in working from home: how many times in the past would you have wished to just sleep a bit more instead of driving/biking/going by public transport to work in a super busy traffic? To work from under the blanket in a dark rainy day? How many times would you have wished to save time to dress uncomfortably, put on make up and just run around not to be late? Or times when you wished for a nice home made lunch but you had to buy a cold salad at the snack bar close to the office?
- Make a list of things that are in your favor, aspects like time, effort, money and energy you can save in this new situation. You never know when things are back to the office and you might give anything to enjoy home in a cold winter day.
7. You might feel unlucky: Why is this happening to me? Why now? Why this year? Why this Corona?? Sounds familiar? Fighting with a pandemic has occurred constantly during the existence of humanity. But being alive, healthy and with so many solutions available, like internet and home delivery, can also be an incentive to have a grateful perspective over this situation.
- TIP: make a list of 5 things that you are grateful for. Do you have internet, social media, video camera so you can keep in touch with your close ones? Do you have a job? Do you have some money to buy a board game? Do you have the health to see a sunrise or a sunshine on your balcony? Search your reasons to be grateful, even if it is just for being alive and having the chance to change your life at a deeper level of understanding, because of this rare, Corona situation.
8. You might feel like you are done with it. Yes. I know. It has been a long year and is not over yet. Some people struggle with working from home, while others struggle with loosing their business or income or physical health. We are all into the same world and with the ability of seeing the bigger picture, of growing in the given circumstances, for a definitely better future, we can manage it. We will manage it!
- TIP: Make sure to take care of your mental, physical health and nutrition. They will help you as your best instruments. Make sure to choose an attitude that will take you through this time, so that next year, when you look back, to not perceive it as a lost time. Take the best you can out of it and set yourself a mentality of patience and perseverance, for personal growth. Live a balanced life. You deserve your best life!
Follow my next articles for how to keep your body healthy when you work from home.
You can always contact me for a personalized approach for your mental well-being.