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All of a sudden many people find themselves in an unaccustomed and disconcerting workspace. Home!

Your new workspace can be filled with very busy “colleagues” and distractions. On the other side you may be totally isolated and alone, which can be equally distracting. Working from home is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea.

The involuntary quarantine causes many mental health issues to surface, because we are social beings. This is even true of the self-proclaimed introverts, because people need social interactions. We don’t realize the value of the interaction and exchanges between colleagues during the course of a normal working day.

The issues that can come to the foreground from being forced to work from home in the midst of a world-wide pandemic are:

  • The change in your mind-set from “living” to being in survival mode. This shift in mind-set is the clearest in people binge shopping for so-called essential goods, leaving shop shelves empty. The empty shop shelves aggravates the feelings of anxiety and despair. People who cannot afford to stock pile are even more anxious, because their situation turns out to be more hopeless.
  • Increase anxiety takes a toll for the worse on your health. Stress and continued anxiety erode your wellbeing and leave your general immune response wanting.
  • Working from home can decrease your job and financial security. In the process where decentralization wins ground, people’s fear for becoming redundant increases.
  • The increased sense of insecurity leads to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.
  • In reality it becomes more difficult to distract oneself from existing mental health issues and this promotes social withdrawal and loneliness.
  • On top of all these reactions there are the fear for the lives of loved ones. We do not know how safe, our children, elderly parents and loved ones working in emergency and medical services are.
  • Many people also do not know how loved ones are doing when they work somewhere outside the country.

The positive side to working from home is:

  • You are saving on travelling cost and time.
  • You can be up to 25% more productive, because you experience less impromptu interruptions by colleagues “just want to tell you what so- and-so said” or other gossip. You can choose to use time you save on not traveling on either working or making contact with friends and loved ones.
  • You can use your own toilette facilities which limits health risks.
  • You will find that you have more control over how you manage disruptions and how you spend your day, but taking responsibility for your work agenda takes discipline.
  • Working from home can give you a sense that you ae spending more quality time on your relationships with the people closest to you.

Here is a few tips on how to manage your time in ways that will enhance your wellbeing:

  • Review your attitude towards your work. Do you dread working or do you know that your contributions are valuable and important. If you are doing freelance work, this is the first priority of everyday, because you do not have a manager checking up on you. You are responsible for your attitude towards your work, because that will determine your output.
  • Decide what the length of your workday must be and set working hours. Look at what you need to do and how many hours are required. As you set your workday according to the tasks, remember to allocate time for a lunch hour to eat and take a walk. Sitting at a desk for hours on end is actually counterproductive, because your concentration is not up to standard if you don’t vary your activities.
  • Dedicate a place as your workspace. A workspace should have enough light and fresh air, with not too much noise.
  • Keep on dressing for success. As you dress for work. You will switch into work mode and you create a routine that is similar to what you are used to.
  • Having a consistent work routine, creates an emotional safe place where you can maximise your productivity.
  • Take a break when you get stuck with a problem. In a distressing time such as we are facing right now, concentration problems may occur because of various reasons. If you feel overwhelmed, call someone that you can trust and who normally has an uplifting effect on you. Call a colleague if it is a workplace issue and ask for help. The sooner you can get “un-stuck”, the sooner you can get going to fulfil your tasks for the day.
  • Anticipate and manage the stress of working at home. There will be interruptions and people phoning or dropping in, because “you are lucky not be at work and get paid to do nothing”. Manage these interruptions with grace and a firm stance. Make an appoint to have tea or another social activity, just like you have to do any other time, if you were at work.
  • Be kind to yourself and acknowledge the difficulty of the moment. Recognize that you are facing a time of uncertainty, without falling into despair or self-pity. Life goes on and you are created to be resilient.

We are advised to avoid large social gatherings, but you and your family and closest friends can do a number of things together:

  • Take a walk and talk.
  • Spend time with the people in your home and set time aside to talk about concerns, wins and plans
  • Go on a hike.
  • Go gardening or play in the garden
  • Read a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Plan and cook a meal together.
  • Family game time, like a board game night.
  • Go for a drive for sightseeing.
  • Celebrate Easter with the closest people to you.
  • If you are all on your own break the isolation by inviting a friend or neighbour for coffee.
  • This is also a good time to catch up on your research and continuous professional development training (See Aquilla Training’s online workshops).

When all is said and done, I know that it is by the grace of God that we can do one thing at a time and be kind to others.

Stay well and be safe.

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