Was it just February when our lives were so complicated and so normal? Rush, rush, rush, grumbling all the way about how busy we were, how stressed we were? We didn’t know the first thing about stress.
Suddenly, we’re stuck at home, working remotely, which we always thought would be awesome. But whatever this is, is doesn’t feel awesome at all. We’re isolated from friends and family and coworkers. We even miss the annoying guy in accounting. Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to function from home are still feeling financially insecure, wondering how long our company’s business model will hold up.
We know there’s work to be done, somewhere, but as Mark Manson writes at his site mm.net, “My life now possesses a background ambiance of anxiety, whispering that somewhere, something important needs doing, yet when I open my calendar, almost everything is canceled, abandoned, or indefinitely postponed.”
There used to be a bright line between work and home, with home being a refuge from the everyday grind. Now home is the home of the everyday grind, and a crowded one, if you’ve got a partner or spouse also working there and kids attending school there.
So it’s natural to feel anxious, unfocused, even depressed. This is a terrible crisis, one we never saw coming and one we had almost no time to prepare for. Everyone’s feeling scared and uncertain. This is hard, and we don’t know when it will end. Feelings like these don’t make you weak; they make you human. Don’t beat yourself up or waste time telling yourself what you should be feeling.
One of the best things you can do for yourself is set a routine. Your day used to revolve around other people’s priorities and deadlines, but those are mostly gone now. You’ll benefit from setting up your own routine for the day, one that balances productive work sprints with self-care and down time.
Get up at the same time each workday, even if your commute is just 20 steps to the home office or the dining room table. Don’t give in to binging snacks; you have the time now to prepare thoughtful, healthy meals and use them as a break from your work. Go to sleep on a regular schedule too, and make sure to work in some activity that takes care of your body: stretching, yoga, weights, even dancing to your favorite beat. A 20 minute meditation or gratitude practice can help you feel more balanced and calm.
It’s easy to slip into looking…shall we say, less than your best, when you’ve got nowhere to be. Believe it or not, you’ll feel much better if you shower, groom and dress in something other than last night’s crumpled pajamas. You don’t have to look office-ready, but you can be comfortable and look presentable. Looking bad is a gateway to feeling bad. Regular loads of laundry will mean you’ll have more options; add it into your routine.
There’s no question that this national time out will be rough on all of us. But you might find that new (good) habits you create now will carry over into your daily routine when we come out on the other side. Let’s hope that’s soon.