How Are You Doing? Mental Wellness Amid the Pandemic

Americans for the most part are managing remote work pretty well, according to a recent survey conducted by insurer Chubb. They are remaining productive, putting in the same or more hours of work as they did when in the office and staying connected to family and friends amid social distancing. But make no mistake, people are also experiencing real strain in this new normal environment of ours. They are eating and drinking more, trying to balance work-life as home distractions are commonplace (only 43% said they were able to maintain a separation between work and family activities), and are concerned about their overall financial wellbeing as the virus continues to surge.

Mental wellness amid this pandemic is something we all have to be mindful about, as the virus continues to claim thousands of lives and cases are nearing the 4.5 million mark. Three months of quarantine and lockdown, record business closures and unemployment numbers, online and homeschooling, and cancellation of major events such as weddings, proms, graduations, and trips have taken a real toll. Many people have felt and continue to feel anxiety, sadness, and even anger in response to the uncertainty of the situation we are facing. “It’s normal to be unsettled and concerned about the upending of life as we know it. Humans find comfort and safety in the predictability of the routines of daily living,” said John Forsyth, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany in New York, in an article in the Washington Post.

Take Care of Yourself

Experts note that during these times, it’s important to recognize and accept anxious thoughts and feelings and not push them away – it’s the essence of mindfulness. It’s also helpful to create new routines while we continue to work at home. The new routines should provide structure and predictability for individuals and families. Perhaps take that online class you have been putting off. Learn French; learn how to play an instrument or to paint.  Schedule self-care, taking time for exercise (get on that spin bike in the garage) to boost mental as well as physical strength.

Consider meditation. There’s also a broad range of apps for meditation, relaxation, and anxiety and insomnia relief available. Headspace, for example, is one such app.

Step back from the constant news cycle. The never-ending stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel anxious. Also, sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumors. Use trustworthy and reliable sources when you do tune into the news.

Like Your Workspace, Keep in Touch with Colleagues Regularly

Be sure workspace is somewhere you want to be by surrounding yourself with things that bring a smile to your face – photos of loved ones, a great vacation spot, and meaningful mementos. Set up an ergonomic workspace, too. A poorly-equipped space can lead to additional aches and pains that can impact your emotional wellbeing, and even cause accidents and injuries. Get the right desk, chair, technology, and lighting if you haven’t done so already.

In addition, keep in touch frequently with colleagues to help stem feelings of isolation and loneliness. Continue to schedule online meetings on a regular basis (don’t tire of those Zoom meetings). Provide positive and specific feedback to one another, and discuss your feelings. Look into your company’s employee assistance program and online wellness programs for additional resources.

Focus on Family, Friends, Too Spend time together as a family, connect and be present in the moment. Simple, everyday activities, such as cooking a meal together, reading a book, or chatting about your day can help your children feel safe, secure, and connected with you. Also, develop fun and challenging tasks to work on together that encourage creativity. And finally, remember to keep having honest conversations with family and friends.