Stay-at-home orders and social distancing are forcing us to think about the ways we live and work. In addition to health and financial risks, we now have to manage the new dynamics in our home.
This is not what we signed up for when we cheerfully welcomed the new year on the eve on 31st December 2019. My horoscope never mentioned this and it surprises me that none of the astrologers saw it coming (Trust them to be accountable).
None the less, here we are – things are very different than what we thought and that’s how it is set to be for a long time. This shutdown has pushed us to modify our lives but it doesn’t have to change everything completely and maybe that’s the brighter side we ought to be focusing on.
Here are some ways I have found to stay active and manage the current situation.
I have been working from home since months now. If there is one thing I know about myself, it is this – I am almost never stressed about anything. Or so I thought. With the variable disastrous nature of pandemic, I have caught my self to be stressed on more than one occasion.
Making self-care a priority and monitoring my mindset closely has helped. The time I am saving from office commute, I am utilizing it for Meditation, praying, or engaging in other activities that can help relax, reduce stress and anxiety. Talking with family and people I trust has helped me work through my fears and concerns.
Most importantly the 24/7 news cycle can really add to anxiety, so limiting my news and social media consumption, particularly as it relates to the pandemic, has helped ease tension.
Time saved from news and social media can be used for other hobbies, tasks, and relationships with others. I have picked up badminton these days.
Like billions of people around the world, I have always planned hitting the gym. And Like billions of people, that never worked out before lockdown. Now that I am stuck at home, it’s best to stick to a routine to manage day-to-day activities. Since it’s advised to stay at home its best to modify the workout for indoor activities as much as possible.
Maintaining regular sleep habits and mealtimes can also contribute to a sense of normalcy. Healthy meals gathered around the table can help families (especially those with children) stay grounded and provide a comforting structure during stressful days.
Though I have occasionally worked from home BLD (Before Lock Down), but ALD (After Lock Down) I have realized that work-life balance is quite a rubbish concept after all. We can’t truly balance it when working from home. Perhaps, its time we figured out a way to integrate it instead of trying to balance it. Balancing just squeezes the life out of me.
We’re adjusting our work schedules. For someone like me, work may now be at home, with so many facilities shutting down and moving to remote access.
For essential workers like my dad who is a cop and other essential services professionals, the pandemic may have completely overturned work hours – either working more hours or unpredictable shifts.
With work responsibilities more integrated into home life, it’s still important to be mindful of where those roles begin and end. Depending on your workload, you may not be able to start and stop work at guaranteed times each day or prevent work interruptions during your free time.
Be honest with your organization and yourself about what you can do (and when you can do it) and what’s expected. One of my supervisors always says just be honest to 8 hours and I think that all what is required.
For some unfortunate ones who have been laid off, who have seen their pay/hours cut or whose own business has been affected—this unexpected situation during lockdown is straining budgets without a clear end in sight.
Government relief packages are a bit of relief for few but maybe not for all at this moment.
For others, however, staying home for so many weeks can save money (metro fare, petrol, insurance, restaurant meals, etc.). If you have previously set a monthly budget, go through any recent income and expense changes to calculate how much your current situation is saving or costing you e.g pay cuts, emi’s, etc.
A recent article in Financial Express recommended maintaining an emergency account that can cover 3 to 6 months of living expenses during this pandemic.
Be sure you have sufficient internet bandwidth to accommodate more people in your home at the same time, with more streaming on additional devices if you have multiple users at home.
Hotspots may not be the best choice as mobile data plans prove out expensive for long periods. Schedule important meetings at a time when no one else has data-heavy activities. Have offline files/projects as a backup in case of slower internet or bandwidth problems.
In addition to work requirements, you can also experiment with technology to be more productive, to learn a new skill, or to replace previous leisure or entertainment activities. (new Netflix series, anyone?)
More than anything, physical distancing is taking a toll on our relationships. Check in on loved ones—online, over the phone, over the fence, from the balcony, or whatever you can do to maintain connections within the distancing guidelines.
And it’s not just relationships with families and friends. We miss our communities. Movies, religious activities(my mom’s favorite) may still be happening—just in new ways. Whether online or in-person with proper precautions recommended by the government, it’s important to stay involved with community groups for your own and family’s safety.
The magnitude of the coronavirus and its impact makes it clear that we’re living in unprecedented times. We don’t know what the future will hold—and honestly, it’s hard to know what next week will look like.
But when it comes to your work-related challenges, we’re here for you to answer any questions. We’re in this together.
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