A survival kit to Covid-19, working in unstable times

Mentally and emotionally it’s tough when changes such as Covid-19 hit us. We don’t necessarily have control over what’s happening in the wider world, but we do have a choice about how we personally respond. Framing the situation as positively as possible will be better for our mental health and outlook. In this post, we talk about how to support ourselves and stay emotionally resilient in this time of fear and social isolation.

Some people initially respond positively to being able to work from home and be removed from the world around them, especially if they’re sensitive to picking up others’ anxieties at difficult times like this. Some like the flexibility of no commute, the lack of business attire, and more freedom to manage themselves. These positive feelings can be replaced over time with feelings of being imprisoned, stressed, isolated, depressed, anxious and demotivated. It’s even harder for people who also have children or others to care for. With social media swirling around, the distraction of the negative press can also bear heavily on some.

Maintain structure to your day. It’s important to maintain a sense of normality and keep a boundary between work and home. For example get up at the same time each day, have a proper lunch break, go out for a walk if possible and shut down your computer at your usual finishing time.

Move. It’s easy to lose hours of each day sitting at a dining table with the only movement going back and forward from the fridge! Incorporate some exercise (stretching, yoga, a walk, dancing) each day for the sake of your wellbeing. There’s heaps of research to demonstrate the benefits, and many free online workouts available if you are in any form of quarantine.

Build in social contact. People can start to feel very isolated and down very quickly without contact with others. Make time to have a call with a friend or family at least once a day. Zoom, skype, call, message, whatever works for you. Check in to see how others are coping.

Find something you can do for the community. Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do. Keep an eye out for people needing support. It might be a phonecall, an offer to volunteer one of your skills, or support for a small business in your area – buying a voucher, not asking for that refund.  Find something that allows you to feel connected to the greater good.

Social Media and News. Find a source you like, trust and can easily relate to and stick to following that one source for information. We are being bombarded with very conflicting advice, over which we have no control. Limit what you read or consume to ensure the news isn’t overwhelming.

Manage your emotions to stay resilient. Becoming frustrated, feeling imprisoned, missing contact with colleagues; all of these things are normal responses. Try to catch yourself before you spiral into negative thought patterns by writing down ten things you’re grateful for. This can shift your mood very quickly.

Remind yourself of your strengths. When things are tough it’s worth taking a bit of time out to remind what you’re really good at and thinking about how those things can help you. For example if you’re a naturally calm person this will help you and your loved ones, perhaps you’re determined, creative, positive. Focusing on your strengths will help you stay resilient.

One thing we do know is that this is a temporary state, and whilst we don’t know when Covid-19 will pass, we know it will. In the meantime

  • Think about what you can control – emotions, information, personal distance, hygiene, consumption
  • Think about what you can’t control, and can influence – how family and friends respond, things related to work, what others do or say
  • Everything else goes into a box for now, to be closed and taped up… don’t give it your time or attention!!