Looking after our psychological health in self-isolation

During these uncertain times we are all fighting an invisible war for our physical health. There may be times when this gets harder and it’s important to remember that psychological health is as important as the physical one if not more.

Today’s article will focus on three key questions about how do we adapt, how do we handle the massive wave of information coming from the media and how to stay positive.

How do we adapt to this new work context?

Keep your work routines.

As we all face the challenge of staying at home it is important to remember that most of us usually work in a specially designated space that gives our mind the mental triggers to keep us engaged and productive.

In a behavioral and psychological sense, the workplace is a giant accountability system that keeps us focused and efficient.

While working at home it is normal to feel that this whole accountability system is broken. We are no longer actually going to work, we are not commuting, we are not seeing all the familiar spaces and faces that remind our unconscious mind that it is time to work.

All this change might trigger anxiety and frustration even in the best of us.

To manage these feelings, take your top 3 office triggers and think of ways to replicate them while working at home.

Let’s take commute, for example. Even though we often say that we’d rather use that commute time more productively, our mind has transformed our commute in a routine that helps us switch from our home life to our work life and vice-versa.

While working at home, it is important to have check-in and check-out routines to achieve the same outcome. Imagine that each work day is like a marathon, we need a starting line and finishing line.

When working at home, schedule time for checking-in and checking-out of your work day. For example, serving your coffee in the morning while checking your schedule for the day might be your checking-in routine.

At the end of each work day, make sure you have personal activities planned so that you also take the time to relax, to invest your personal relationships, to read or study, in short, to feel like you’ve checked out.

Continue to connect visually with your colleagues and stakeholders.

Now imagine that the commute is just one part in our routine of getting ready to work.

Another important part are the places and the familiar faces that remind us about the commitments and deliverable that we need to submit.

While in the workplace, the meeting rooms, our colleagues, our interactions, all are designed to remind us that it’s time to work.

When working from home, make sure that you have frequent interactions with your colleagues and that you turn on your web camera as often as possible. By also letting others see you while you work, you increase the chance of delivering on your commitments. Also, by seeing each other we continue to nurture our professional relationships.

How do we handle the massive wave of information from all social media platforms?

Remember that you are in control.

During uncertain times, the media does what they do best, they write and communicate about everything.

Being in control translates into three primary decisions. First, choose your preferred medium for receiving news, it can be TV, radio, digital. Second, identify credible sources, make sure the information you take in has been cross validated and has referenced it’s sources. Third, schedule when you what to get connected to the news, this is maybe the most important decision because your brain needs time to process the information, to understand it’s implications and maybe to take additional actions.

As an example, you can schedule three moments, 10-15 minutes each, during the day when you disconnect from work and get in touch with the news of the day. If necessary, you can extend this time to discuss the news with your close ones. This also helps you invest in your personal relationships.

What can we do in order to stay positive?

Focus on the present and the benefits of your current situation.

Remember how often you’ve thought in the last few months that you need to find a way to spend less time commuting, you need to schedule more time for yourself to read a good book, to take an online course or maybe to watch a new TV series.

Now, as it happens, your wish has come true. As most of us now get to work from home full-time, we have a chance to invest our commute time in a more meaningful way and, maybe, just maybe, be closer to our loved ones.

These are all reasons to stay positive.

And yes, we are all in self-isolation for most of the day. But, we do this from the comforts of our homes while being connected to our loved ones and to a world of information.

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