For those of you who are still working and have the ability to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic, suddenly being at home all the time can be a big change to adapt to. You more than likely will experience a whole array of emotions during the working from home process, speaking from my own experience!
Self-isolation – a not-so-new concept
Having had signs of Inflammatory Bowel Disease for as much of my life as I can remember, followed by my diagnosis at the age of 7, staying at home is no stranger. Up until around the age of 20, I spent most of my time at home. When I wasn’t at home, I felt edgy, anxious, apprehensive and a lot of the time I was in pain, nervously awaiting the next toilet rush, hoping one was close by. A lot of the time, especially mid flare-up, going out was not something I had the energy to do, mentally or physically.
One of the first things that came to mind when the lockdown restrictions were announced was being worried about my mental state taking a dive. Having had no choice but to stay at home due to illness in the past, its almost embedded in my brain to link not being able to go out to feeling poorly. The thought of all those thoughts bubbling up to the surface suddenly overwhelmed me. It became clear that I was going to have to work out how to deal with these thoughts & work out how I could do this.
Stuck at home? Try shifting your mindset a little.
Being both a Pinterest & Instagram fan (& knowing when to disengage from any negative activity on there), I see so many words of encouragement from different users in general. Within days of lockdown being announced, I saw many posts starting to surface with regards to mental well-being during this challenging time. One of them that provided a lot of comfort and reassurance for me was something that changed how I viewed being inside. It encouraged a shift in mindset from being stuck at home to being safe at home, which was really refreshing and helpful to see.
However, I’m not saying you’re wrong if you find yourself so frustrated at having no choice but to stay at home in this pandemic. This last week especially I have struggled with spending so much time at home and my everyday routine shifting so dramatically and suddenly within the last month. I have found myself feeling angry, upset, claustrophobic, extremely frustrated (yet grateful at the same time) for technology, restricted and have experienced an increase in mood swings. Feeling these things is more than okay and understandable and it is important to listen to your body and not give yourself too much of a hard time for having a hard time.
Being “at work” but from home – tips to help you adapt
Living in a very small flat (with no private garden – just a doorstep and limited communal outdoor space) can make it even easier for work and home life to blend into one. I’ve found it hard to segregate home between working and not working. I’ve also found it increasingly hard to “switch off” even when I’ve clocked out of my job each day.
I’ve listed some tips below (the list is not exhaustive) to try and help you make working at home more manageable.
- Routine, routine, routine! Try to go about your day as if you were at work in terms of taking breaks etc. I wake up the same time as if I was going to work so around 6:30-7am. I start work between 8-8:30 after I’ve made my morning coffee, then I work through until 10-10:30 and stop for a 10-15-minute drink break. Then lunch is between 12-1 for half an hour to an hour depending on how the day is going. I then stop somewhere between 3-3:15pm to make another drink and grab a snack, then work through until between 4:30-5pm. Stephen (@gommy45_ on Instagram) stressed the importance of ensuring you take your breaks away from your desk/workspace so that you aren’t tempted to look at your work/emails!
- Dress up, make up, show up! I make sure that I get dressed and do my make up before starting work as it helps me to get in the right mindset and feel more awake (significantly removing the temptation to go back to bed, because I can’t, even though it’s only in the other room!) However, I allow myself one day in the week where I do work in my pyjamas up until lunch, then shower and get dressed. This is to adapt to my energy levels as I struggle a lot with fatigue at the moment and there are some days where getting dressed and doing my make-up seems too big of a mountain to climb! P.S. Don’t even think of working from your bed if you want to feel motivated & not fall back to sleep!
- Work somewhere light & airy and if you can’t, then try and make your working space brighter with lights and bright post it notes/pictures etc. I find sitting in the window to work helps “wake me up” and bed me into the day and I ensure that I have the windows open at some point in the day to get some fresh air in. This definitely helps with motivation and productivity.
- Get out for a walk or a run, if you can whilst complying with social distancing. Some people who are at higher risk etc won’t be able to do this, but try and get outside in the garden or even on the doorstep (if you have one) for some fresh air and different views apart from four walls.
- Check in with your colleagues via phone, video call or e-mails. I do miss the social element of being in the office and find that dropping in with my colleagues helps to normalise things a bit more. Also, it can help you feel less isolated.
- Get some music on! I find this definitely helps boost my mood and also allows me to really zone out and get stuck into my work. I also find having a little sing and dance in my chair helps add some joy to the day.
- Make your working space and relaxation space separate where you can. I find this hard living in a flat as I now relate the dining table to doing my work so find it hard to separate the two. However, these last few days, I have folded the sides of the table down after work (it is a drop table) & have moved it more to the outside of the room and made sure all my work things have been put somewhere safe until I need them again.
- Give yourself something to look forward to after work such as a hot, bubble bath with a face mask or snuggling up with a good book.
- Don’t check your e-mails outside of work if you want to make “switching off” from work a lot easier. Work emails are for work.
Have any working from home tips you’d like to share?
Stay home, stay safe & help save lives.