Now that this new normal has suddenly made its way through our lives, many people are left feeling lost about putting barriers between working and living. With the COVID-19 pandemic still prevalent in our country, a lot of companies are now implementing work-at-home strategies to keep the ball rolling.
This sudden change in our society’s norms is pushing people to suddenly go from one lifestyle to another, and it’s taking a toll on their mental health. So, how can we combat the stress and anxiety that goes with it?
How does the new normal affect people’s mental health?
It would be great if everybody can just adapt to new normal lifestyle at the touch of a button, but alas, not everyone functions the same. Because of this, there may be some overwhelming feelings affecting you right now and you might find yourself saying one or more of these things.
- I can’t seem to focus on my work
- I miss my lamyerdas and talking to my peers
- I think I spend too much time working
- I can’t figure out which things need to be prioritized
- Sleep seems to elude me
- There are days when I’m unsure of my progress
Caring for your mental health while working from home
If you or someone you know has been battling with the stress anxiety that comes along with this abrupt change, consider these tips to help maintain a healthy mental state during this new normal.
Exercise and move around
According to a Harvard study, exercising for at least 15 minutes a day may help boost your mood and decrease the risks of depression by up to 26%. It also said that people who are more physically active tend to be at a lesser risk for major depressive disorder.
This means that physical activities can indeed have positive effects on your state of mind.
Physical activity doesn’t have to be a full on exercise routine. If you’re someone who can’t find time to exercise, small movements throughout the day in between work can also count.
Whether it’s doing stationary exercises, walking around the house, or simply hanging your laundry out to dry or washing the dishes, any small physical activity can help keep your stress levels at bay whether it’s during this new normal or not.
Move around every half hour or so and do simple stretches at or near your desk to keep your blood circulation running. Aside from stress management, physical exercises and activities may also help improve your memory and give you a good overall sense of wellbeing.
Create a routine
A routine allows you to organize tasks and things that need your attention for the day. Follow the schedule you have in the office. Include logins, break times, and time off. Set aside some time for exercise, house errands, paying with your kids, and rest, too.
Write it on a calendar, put it on a kanban, or schedule them on an app. Whatever floats your boat. Put it in a place where you will want to see it often.
Do things one at a time
Focus first on the things that need to be prioritized before moving on to the next one. Working on one task rather than doing many things at once helps keep your mind focused which allows you to work more efficiently, and delivers a better output.
Forget the prevailing notion that multitasking is the best way to finish your work faster. The human brain is wired to only be able to focus on one major task.
If you’re looking for a better option to work with your time, try the time blocking method instead.
Schedule a regular talk time and meeting with your boss and coworkers
There are a lot of options to arrange regular meetings online: videocall, chat, email, and SMS are just a few of them. Request a regular schedule to talk to your boss and let them know what you’re working on.
Have regular meetings with your co-workers and officemates via video call or create a watercooler chat room so you and your colleagues can chat together during breaks or talk about work-related concerns.
This helps keep a fluid communication that can help make work faster and easier. It also alleviates the feeling of isolation, fosters a positive relationship, and reduces stress and anxiety.
Designate a workspace at home
Having a specific place of work at home allows your mind to create a mental division between home and work time. A workspace in this new normal gives you the ability to associate that part of the house to productivity, focus, and organization.
Choose a spot in the house with the most ideal environment. It varies from person to person. Ideally, you want a room where you can shut the door and be free of distractions and with proper lighting.
Avoid working in bed as it damages your posture, affects your sleep negatively, and lessens work productivity.
If having a separate room for work is not possible, allot a desk or table where you can put all the things you need for work, and keep them organized at all times. Set the table where you can sit facing the wall to minimize distractions. It would also help to find a comfy chair to sit on while working to keep your focus where it should be.
Talk to your housemates about your schedule
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get anxious and irritated when I’m in the middle of writing and someone interrupts my train of thought just to show me a bunch of memes on their Facebook wall.
I’m not 100% against it. Sometimes, I give in and take a look, too, but I find that little disruptions while at work causes me to get sidetracked until I totally lose the point of what I was writing about which frustrates me even more.
Does this sound familiar?
This is especially true for people who work in a shared space where they don’t have a separate room to work in. Give your housemates your work schedule and let them know when it’s okay to talk to you and when you need some time to focus on your work.
Remember that most disputes wouldn’t even have happened had there been proper communication between the two parties. In other words, telling mom that you can’t wash the dishes after lunch and asking her to move your turn in the evening reduces the risk of getting nagged at for not doing housework kahit nasa bahay ka lang naman buong araw.
Power off your “work mode”
In this new normal, whether you work regular hours or during night shifts, there may be instances when you find it difficult to switch between ‘Work Me’ and ‘Home Me’ since there’s no physical barrier to divide these two (i.e. going to and from work).
Put your mental state into “life mode” by turning off your devices at the end of the day. Digital detox not only helps build connections to the people around you, but it also helps relieve stress and helps you sleep better at night (or during the day if you work night shifts).
See the bright side of working from home
Think about the many great perks you get working from home. You won’t get stuck in traffic going to and from work. The cost of commuting or buying gas for your vehicle is not part of your day’s considerations.
You have more control over your work period, and you get more time with family or doing things you love.
Focusing on things that matter helps clear your mind of negative feelings and anxieties that come with our current situation.
There’s nothing wrong with asking for help
These are but a few things to help keep your mental health at its best condition. If you feel like your stress and anxiety isn’t going away after doing these things, don’t hesitate to contact mental help support groups and professionals to help you out in these trying times.
Mental Health Help Hotline
Philippine Mental Health Association (PMHA) – +632-921-4958 and +632-921-4959
National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) – (02) 531 9001 (connecting all departments)
Hopeline PH – Hopeline PH’s 24/7 hotlines: 0917-558-4673 (Globe) 0918-873-4673 (Smart) 02-88044673 (PLDT) 2919 (toll-free for Globe and TM)
Ateneo Center for Family Ministries Foundation (CEFAM) – family and individual counseling via a psycho-spiritual approach. Free for COVID-19 frontliners, patients, and their families 09278639346 Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 4PM
Ms. Bernice Santos (for Cainta, Rizal only) – +639951762746, email@example.com
Facebook support groups
PHMA Online Support – Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM
PMHA Lipa – Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM
PMHA Cordillera – Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM
PMHA Cebu – Monday to Friday, 8AM to 5PM