The COVID-19 pandemic unsettled us and threw us into uncharted territory. Disasters always generate a huge wave of anxiety and create all kinds of stress factors for every person. Under stress, we process information in a different way - not like in a calm state when we think that the situation is under control. Both the body and the brain react to stress in a special way: a person experiences a gamut of emotions - from shock and denial to fear, anger, guilt, and even numbness.
One has only to imagine that loved ones risk their lives when leaving home, and the brain immediately responds to frightening thoughts: we feel bewildered, annoyed, indecisive, nightmares dream. Because of this, sleep spoils, a feeling of tiredness builds up, we begin to overeat, lose motivation.
To experience all these emotions and physical reactions is quite natural. And if you add to this a lot of uncertainties that have fallen on your head and a bunch of things that are beyond our control, working from home in itself can become a very powerful source of stress. Undoubtedly, remote work has its advantages. However, if work from home is not structured properly, it can lead to loss of purpose or motivation. In addition, extreme stress can distract us from everyday activities and the usual diet.
In this article, you will find tips that can help you build good habits while working from home.
1. Make a daily routine
Social distance is changing our daily lives. But despite this, one should adhere to the usual daily routine if possible. This will help us feel more comfortable. Two studies on daily routines and the meaning of life have shown that habits strengthen the subjective perception of one’s own behavior as purposeful. Scientists have found that the meaning of life does not have to be connected with extraordinary events or achievements, but rather with what is often mistaken for the everyday experiences that make up a day. Therefore, if you take a shower in the morning and get dressed, as if you are going to work, the day promises to be successful.
Scheduling meetings and creating a special work area for yourself and other family members will also help you feel like a collected and disciplined person. Take breaks to relax and chat with other people. If you live separately, call a friend or parents, play with your pet or play your favorite game online. It is important to engage in familiar everyday activities, because they return to a person a sense of ownership in society in a wider context and fill life with meaning - it is these feelings that are directly related to well-being.
2. Mark the boundaries
Remote workers often raise their productivity bar very high, make up an overly busy schedule of conference calls or an unrealistic to-do list. Online meetings are not always subject to your control, but remember how much time you spend in video conferencing. Excess video calls can lead to overwork and deprive you of all strength.
Given the high level of stress and anxiety during this difficult time, an endless stream of news about death and suffering can cause people to have uncharacteristic reactions to what was previously regarded as a minor cause for frustration. And now you have the fifth video conference in a day. You are not only physically overworked by the fact that you have been sitting in an armchair all this time and looking at the screen, you are also emotionally exhausted due to a flurry of recent news and from seeing other colleagues and friends in the same position.
Take breaks between video calls, get up and think for a few minutes or even walk a little. Answer some calls by phone and take notes with a pen and paper. It is proved that communication with friends and relatives helps to overcome social exclusion. However, you should limit the use of social networks, especially before bedtime - this helps to keep anxiety under control.
3. Observe sleep hygiene
Compliance with "sleep hygiene", originally developed to treat mild to moderate insomnia, is a general recommendation for improving sleep from the point of view of behavior and ergonomics. With severe stress, quality sleep is extremely important. Stress brings the nervous system into a state of constant struggle or completely de-energizes it, which can lead to an increase in the level of the stress hormone cortisol. It is proved that this hormone shortens the phase of REM sleep, which, in turn, leads to a decrease in the proportion of restorative sleep.
Lack of quality sleep often leads to loss of motivation, emotional and cognitive impairment. Health authorities make the following recommendations for maintaining good hygiene:
- Avoid caffeine several hours before bedtime.
- Do not abuse alcohol before bedtime, as alcohol does not allow you to fall asleep. According to the US chief surgeon, the maximum recommended daily intake of alcohol is one or two servings of an alcoholic beverage.
- As you prepare for bed, start using mindfulness and stress management techniques. It has been proven that such practices improve the quality of sleep and reduce the time to fall asleep.
- Get up at the same time. Clinical experts in the treatment of sleep disorders recommend this habit. Some sleep hygiene strategies encourage regular times of getting up and going to bed, but these recommendations are based on studies involving patients with chronic insomnia.
- Exercise. Regular exercise can to some extent improve the quality of sleep, especially for those who have not complained about sleep before.
Recently, many studies have been devoted to melatonin and its effect on improving the quality and duration of sleep. Research has shown that melatonin can help people with circadian rhythms. Try what suits you best - sleep hygiene involves many different strategies.
4. Strengthen immunity with proper nutrition
When working remotely, when you spend so much time at home, proper nutrition is an extremely healthy habit. Scientists have made some progress in understanding the relationship between nutrition, immunity, and infection. Malnutrition can cause permanent changes in immune responses.
Now that grocery stores are restricting access times, and the usual trip to the supermarket is risky, getting fresh food and fruit and vegetables is sometimes not so simple. But there are alternatives, for example, food delivery, pickup through the dispensing window and delivery of food packages for healthy eating, which include vegetables and foods containing complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats. And you can take multivitamins ; minerals and vitamins, such as zinc and beta-carotene , can enhance immunity and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is most common in patients complaining of fatigue. Normalizing vitamin D levels with supplements can help reduce the symptoms of fatigue, but be sure to check with your doctor before taking new supplements.
5. Relax with aromatherapy
When working from home, surround yourself with the relaxing aromas of lavender , rosemary , peppermint , etc. Aromatherapy with soothing aromas (such as lavender) can have a protective effect on cognitive processes after acute stress. The abundance of scattered evidence suggests the effects of aromatherapy on stress management. According to a study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, the smell of lavender, possibly due to stereotypical expectations, is associated with a relaxation effect among respondents. That is, knowing that they are invited to inhale the aroma of lavender, the subjects should have felt relaxed. Other studies have shown that the scent of lavender has a beneficial effect on post-stress working memory. You may find this method useful if your work is expensive. Essential oils can be excellent raw materials for aromatherapy, especially when access to nature is limited.
take care of yourself
At every moment of a stressful situation, it is important to take care of yourself and understand that you are experiencing a wide range of emotions, because you are a person. Be healthy, wash your hands regularly. When working from home, observe the daily routine. Mark the boundaries: with yourself, in social networks and with other people. Get enough sleep, eat a balanced diet and try to relax with the help of essential oils . And remember: you are not the only one trying now to make work from home not only possible, but also enjoyable, especially against the backdrop of general concern, stress and suspense.