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The transition to remote work will always be stressful. However, the novel coronavirus also increased anxiety, making it extra- difficult to focus.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, thousands of people are working from home. While this offers us more freedom and autonomy, it takes time to adapt. Even if all were well, it would be normal to feel overwhelmed as you adjusted to your new routine.
At present, we are making this challenging transition on unstable grounds. COVID-19 has sparked fear across the globe. For many business owners, entrepreneurs, and C-Suite executives, COVID-19 has triggered financial loss and difficult decisions. Further, the fear that our business, brand, or career is under threat will create anxiety. As a result, people may feel extra-stressed and unable to focus. To navigate these pressures, Paracelsus Recovery has provided five tips for managing our mental health while working from home.
1. Accept the Abnormality.
We are living in alien times with an ever-evolving protocol. Typically, when people work from home that means working from cafes, co-working spaces, or an empty house. When they feel the loneliness that comes with remote working emerge, they can meet up with loved ones. However, these are not options in our present day. Consequently, new variables have been introduced into our workdays, and it is irrational to expect normal levels of productivity and output.
For instance, a C-Suite job can require 70–80 hours a week either in the office, at work events, or in meetings. Having to complete these tasks from home means doing so amongst children or loved ones you typically don’t get to spend so much time with. Consequently, it might feel as though both your family and your work are asking for your undivided attention. Overwhelmed and pulled at both ends, we can become exhausted, unfocused, and irritable.
Instead of trying to please everyone and do everything, try to accept your limitations. In so doing, you can work with what you have, rather than fixate on what you wish you had. More often than not, this will decrease stress levels and increase productivity.
2. Put Boundaries in Place.
While working from home, it is essential to establish clear-cut boundaries. For example, the environment we work in will have a considerable impact on our stress levels and our ability to focus. Try to find a calming, quiet, and designated space to be your home office for the foreseeable future. Once chosen, avoid using the workspace except during work hours. In so doing, you create some environmental distance between your work mindset and your free-time headspace.
Further, communicate openly with your household about when you are available to them and when you are at work. For many executives now working from home, it may take your family some time to adjust to your ‘work self.’ For instance, the extent you work, the mood swings, or the levels of stress that are usually reserved for the office may surprise them. If you create a schedule with your family that outlines when you are ‘at home’ and when you are ‘at work,’ it will create a structure and lessen friction. This will not only help your relationships but if you are a perfectionist (which many executives tend to be), it can help you to know when to stop working.
3. Stick to Your Routine.
A routine will structure our daily experience and help us feel more in control. At Paracelsus Recovery, we provide an environment and lifestyle that reflects the routine of our clientele, which decreases their stress levels and increases their chances of a robust recovery.
if you are working from home, wake up at the usual time and get fully dressed (including shoes.) If you are in a leadership role, create a virtual schedule for all of your employees to follow. In doing so, we insert familiarity into this unfamiliar time, which can increase comfort and productivity.
Notwithstanding, while we may spend 8–10 hours a day in an office, some studies suggest that we are only productive for about 3–4 hours. We spend the rest of the time conversing with co-workers and taking breaks. While these statistics are surprising, and certainly don’t reflect the lives of top executives, the takeaway is to remember that it is impossible to be in a state of maximum productivity for a full 8–10 hours every day. To avoid burning out, make sure to incorporate breaks into your working-from-home routine.
4. Be Mindful of Your Inner Critic.
American anthropologist Ray Birdwhistell argued that over 65% of communication is non-verbal. Apps such as Facetime, Skype, or Zoom will provide some of this lost dialogue. But the reality is that our interactions during the COVID-19 epoch will be less personal than usual.
The risk with this is when we are virtually talking to someone, our minds conjure up the missing elements of the conversation. However, what we are feeling can determine where we focus our attention, which can lead to actions. Thereby, if we are unsure of someone else’s tone, we can fill it in with how we feel about ourselves.
For example, imagine that you had a very unproductive day, and it increased your feelings of anxiety. Unexpectedly, you receive a generalized email from a shareholder asking for coronavirus-related updates on the company. Because you felt anxious and the email was unexpected, it could lead you to read the email in an urgent and aggressive tone. As a result, you might act on this feeling and send a harsh and panicked response, which could hurt your relationships.
Thus, it is useful to regularly ask yourself, ‘Is that what they meant or is that what I feel about myself?’ to avoid these unnecessarily confrontational interactions.
5. Exercise & Reach Out to Loved Ones.
These can be merged into one point because we all know that exercise and connection are our safety jackets right now. However, the importance of each cannot be understated. Working from home always comes with some degree of loneliness, which is heightened on days when your inner critic is running the show. Make sure to reach out to your loved ones on these days — perhaps by playing with your children during your lunch break, or on a ‘virtual lunch date’ with a colleague.
In turn, exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress, increase energy levels, and improve overall happiness. Experts recommend that we obtain at least 150 minutes per week via various workout regimes we can complete at home.
Paracelsus Recovery is the most exclusive and discrete treatment center in the world. We work with ultra-high-net-worth clients and adopt a harm-reductionist approach to addictive behavior. We also utilize functional medicine practices such as biochemical restoration. We emphasize that, despite stereotypes of wealth and success, mental health challenges cross all socioeconomic borders. The COVID-19 outbreak has brought this reality into sharp focus.
In response to the crisis, we have a ‘global flying doctors team’ who will travel across the globe to help those in need. In addition, at our treatment center, we only ever have one client at a time to ensure total confidentiality. Thus, you can stay with us and still practice social-distancing and self-isolation. As a treatment center focused on health and well-being, we will, of course, take the necessary measures to protect our clients and our staff.