As we find ourselves in an unprecedented time, there really isn’t a manual or a “how to” guide for finding and maintaining wellness and an overall sense of health amidst the pandemic. Most of us have been sent home from our work places to work from home. Now that we are settling in to our sixth week of working from home, the reality that this pandemic has forever changed our world is becoming more real as each day goes by.
Working from home sounds like a great idea. No commuting expenses, home cooked lunch, and zero travel time are some of the reasons why working from home was enticing to me; however, after five weeks, I’m beginning to feel a little frazzled. I miss my co-workers, I miss the peer workers I support, and with no end in sight, I am beginning to worry that working from home is something that I need to accept as my new reality.
I have been experiencing a shift in the way I think about work. I begin my day with breakfast and then head upstairs to a make shift office where I spend the next 8 hours – minus the hour for lunch where I head downstairs and cook a nice lunch because I now have time to do that! At the end of my day, I head downstairs but it doesn’t really feel like I have left work. Because I don’t have any commuting time, I haven’t really transitioned from my work persona to my personal life persona. I still feel like I am switched on and in work mode.
As a team, one of the ways we have adapted is by connecting each morning to check-in with each other and exchange ideas and trouble shoot any issues or concerns that have come up. During this morning huddle, I asked my team if they could relate to my dilemma. We discussed the importance of having a work persona and referred to it as a force field. My team mates are truly the best, so naturally I wanted to share their insights into how they maintain their sense of wellness and manage work/life balance during the pandemic and this new landscape of working from home.
Here are some of their insights:
“I transition in the morning by making my bed, feeding the dog, letting him out, a daily reflection reading, I take a few deep breaths, make a coffee, grab water and turn on the computer and phone. At end of day, I write out a few things about the day that stand out and take a few deep breaths and a say small thank you prayer”
“I transition in the morning and end of day by going into my back yard, I visualize a force field or bubble that is flexible but keeps out a good part of the pain I hear about and potentially absorb each day. This helps me transition mentally. Then I come back in to my kitchen table where I assemble my computer and greet the work day. At the end of the day I go back to the back yard and visualize the bubble dissolving. Then I come back inside, put my computer away and start my personal life again”
“I do not live in a space that has a setup for a home office, so I spend my days sitting at the kitchen table or closed in my room when I need a private space. This really blurs the lines between work and personal life sometimes. I do not have much of a transition into work mode. I get up, I do whatever for a little bit, make breakfast and set my child up to do his school work for the day. I try to maintain as much of our prior morning routine as possible, though that does not always happen. I turn on my computers and its work time. It feels like the transition out of work mode back to my personal life is the area that I struggled with the most. I found myself checking emails all the time. Therefore, I made a very concrete plan. At the end of the day, I close my computers and tuck them aside – giving me back my kitchen as a kitchen, not an office. When the weather is nice, I get my child and we go for a short walk. This is my transition out of work to my personal life. Shut it down, walk away from it all and let it go for the night. When we cannot get out for a walk, the transition is to go and change my clothes. I need to something that is a physical shift from work to personal life. At the end of the day and at the end of the week, I put the computers in their bags and put them away in different room for the weekend.”
“At the beginning of the work day, I begin by checking emails and returning phone calls. This helps me transition into work mode. At the end of the day, it gets more difficult because I find myself continuing to answer emails. I catch myself thinking about my virtual interactions that I had during the day and I ask myself ‘was I empathetic enough? Was I actively listening enough, could I have done better?’ I find myself questioning my skill set now that all of my work has become virtual. I am learning to hang on the new skills I am learning while letting go of the doubt’
Thank you for reading
Julia, Kayleigh, Meghan and Tonya from the Self Help and Peer Support Team, CMHAWW