Managing Anxiety with Work
COVID has brought many changes to employment. For millions this has meant furloughs, lay-offs, and unemployment. All of these options lead to anxiety about food security, eviction threats and anxiety about how to keep your family going.
For those still fortunate enough to be working this may mean shifting to working from home. And since schools are still struggling with in person learning this often means meetings with family rumblings in the background, balancing laptops and toddlers or just trying to find a reasonable spot to work efficiently. All of this on top of worries and anxieties about COVID, work in general and how your family is coping.
For many working from home is not new, but the increased responsibilities and pressures may be increasing even for veteran work from homers. Working from home has many benefits but the change in location may add to the pressure for some workers. There is more isolation, zoom meetings aside. Many people love the social aspects of working onsite. There is the need for a dedicated or effective location to comfortably work from and that may include the need to have a sightline to kids and/or pets.
Hacks to Reduce WFH Stress
Find your place. If your space does not provide a dedicated office space, claim a corner or spot where you can keep supplies needed often and your laptop. Check for reasonable reception and power sources. Try to make it a consistent location, but there have been some highly creative office areas using ironing boards, high chairs, patio areas and niched corners and cubbies.
Quiet please. You need a signal system when on an open call or meeting. You will also need a way to reduce the background noise. Try to plan calls and meetings around times when the distractions are minimized or reduced if at all possible.
Roll with it. We have all softened on background ruckus, kids walking in front of cameras and pets clamoring for undivided attention. What once would have shocked us, is not part of daily life.
Think outside the WFH box. Can you work during the night or early mornings. Can you alternate your schedule with others in the household. Is there something that others can do during times you must have quiet concentration?
Take Breaks. Since sitting has become the new smoking, plan breaks, move to a standing desk or just move around a bit. Schedule breaks as consistently as possible. Try to hold it close to your prior schedule if possible, coffee breaks and lunch breaks are important to manage concentration and reduce increased anxiety.
Say No. This is not always possible but try to establish a start and end time to the day as well as standard break times. Concentrate calls into spaces of quiet and in times where you have more privacy if possible. Turn off the phone and close down the day when possible. Overextending increases anxiety and can lead to feelings of failure when overestimating capacity for getting work accomplished.
Balance and Centering. Self-care including plenty of sleep, nutritional food and hydration is part and parcel of keeping you in balance. Finding ways to fit work in blocks of time and allowing yourself to be present with family and other priorities. Find ways to let go of anxiety with meditation, yoga, inspirational reading, or exercise. Allow yourself to redirect priorities and timelines to suit your need for income balanced against your need for self-care. Practiced centering will reduce or alleviate anxiety. Planning for time for renewal will proactively assist with reducing opportunities to allow anxiety to build.
Reach out. If the anxiety and frustration of work continues to present, please reach out to a Mental Health Professional, Counselor or Therapist. Learning new coping skills and having a safe space to talk about underlying issues and triggers can reduce anxiety and its ability to reduce quality of life.