Megan Sokola is a freelance writer and mental health advocate. Her years spent as an outpatient addiction counselor and mental health crisis responder have fueled her passion for writing articles that help people feel connected to others.
The current coronavirus pandemic has likely disrupted your life in some significant way. No matter how resilient you are or how well you cope with change, you have probably realized by now that we are dealing with something that is not in any way comparable to what most of us have seen before.
Life seems to be on pause as we keep our distance from each other. In many states, non-essential businesses have been ordered to close. This has forced many office workers to work from home.
If this is you, you are no doubt doing your best to adapt to your new reality. It’s also likely that you’re still struggling with certain aspects (you are NOT alone!).
You Have Permission to Feel
First, take a minute right now to give yourself some much-deserved credit for all you are doing to get through this. This is not easy! So much about life is uncertain right now; it is absolutely normal if you feel stressed out or scared. In fact, give yourself permission to feel any emotions that are stirring inside right now, but don’t let them take over your life.
With unemployment on the rise, those who still have jobs often feel shame in admitting they are struggling, too. Don’t! Comparing your struggles with those of someone else is never helpful: it’s like telling someone suffering from depression that she shouldn’t feel sad because other people have it “worse.” Acknowledge your situation without judgment.
The bottom line: be kind and patient with yourself. You are doing the best you can in completely uncharted territory.
4 Ways to Improve Your Work From Home Situation, Now
- Carve a Space
As we enter yet another week of uncertainty, I’d like to share some of the wisdom I’ve found helpful. When you are forced to make your home into your workspace, some small changes can help keep you feeling balanced.
The most consistent work-from-home advice I’ve heard is to have a separate space for anything related to work. Making this happen is difficult for a lot of people: plenty of us never expected our homes to become makeshift offices, let alone offices we have to share with partners, roommates, kids, parents, or pets. So it might take some creativity!
To get some inspiration, try looking through Pinterest using keywords like “tiny home office” or “closet office.” Having a dedicated space for work allows you to “leave” work at the end of the day.
- Set Clear Boundaries
You can also try to limit interruptions by setting clear boundaries regarding your availability during work hours. (Reminder: the same goes with your colleagues – you shouldn’t suddenly need to be an on-call employee!).
If you have office space with a door, a simple post-it with “do not disturb” or “taking a break at 2:30!” can work well to limit “visits” that end up destroying your focus.
- Block Noise
Noise is another big distraction, zapping your focus and leaving you frustrated and sometimes even resentful. It’s hard to be productive when you can’t concentrate because of the blaring tv or phone call (on speaker!) going on in the next room.
Earplugs are little saviors. Buy a jar of the disposable ones on your next trip to the grocery store. You can also try headphones or background noise (better: listen to background noise on your headphones). The Brainwave app is my favorite, but if you want a free option, you can use youtube and search “reiki healing music” to find some beautiful, calming videos to play in the background while you’re on your computer.
- Give Yourself a Break
If you still find yourself unable to focus, it might be time for self-care. I have noticed that in general people want to help others, especially in times of need. This is wonderful and inspiring but at the same time, it is essential to remember that you cannot do good for others unless you are also caring for yourself!