As we all attempt to make the best out of the tough road we are on, it is important to remember that our own mental health should be a top priority. Whether your day to day life has changed drastically, or very little, the social impacts of what is going on in our world this year weighs heavy on our underlying motivation, efficiency, and effectiveness in normal everyday businesses.
While there are still industries making their daily commutes, there are a lot of us that have experienced a major shift in the way we work. To help in any way we can, here are five tips to help you stay productive, keep sane, and make the most of these trying times.
Get out and Get some Sun
As many of us adjust to spending a lot more time at home, it is important to remember to get outside and get some fresh air. Set aside specific break times each day to get outside, go for a walk, and get some fresh air. For those of us with loved ones at higher risk of getting sick, we can still enjoy being outside while staying on our property and making a concerted effort when coming back in to change clothes, and wash our hands before engaging with loved ones.
Studies show that sunlight boosts our bodies serotonin production which drastically helps improve our mood, calms our mind and body, and helps us stay focused. So, when the weather is warm, get outside a couple times a day, even just for a few minutes at a time, or take a walk on your lunch break and master your afternoon.
Have a Morning Routine
One of the best ways to create a natural rhythm throughout your day is to define what your morning looks like. Whatever it means to you, it does not matter much beyond what you need to start the day. If you are a morning person that can get in a day’s work before the sunrises, more power to you.
For the rest of us that find mornings to be somewhat similar to being run over by a train, something as simple as setting an alarm and prioritizing basic activities like rolling out of bed, crawling to the coffee pot, and then sitting to enjoy a cup of coffee can have a profound impact on the rest of our day.
Whether it be in our relationships, productivity, emotional or physical health, having a morning routine can create a lasting impact. In the beginning, the biggest consideration to give yourself is being flexible toward being perfect.
We are all human, and we are far from perfect. Shoot for consistency over perfection. Plan the night before, or at the end of the weekend. Be honest with your commitments and expectations. If we shoot to be 1% better every day, in 100 days we are more than 100% better, right?
Make a Plan
Of all the areas that have increased the pressure to work, making a plan can be one of the most effective ways to mitigate the stress of this new work environment. Sit down with your boss (virtually) to talk through the most important actions items for the day, week, or month ahead. Then, break those down further into daily expectations and structured timeframes to be able to keep yourself on track during regular business hours.
While we work from home, we may be tempted to do more work because of the convenience of it being with us all the time, but it is necessary for our sanity to take breaks, step away and enjoy our time outside of the “office”. As important as laying out action items and necessary work details, make sure to include break times as well.
Structuring your day, much like you would while going into the office has been seen to drastically improve your productivity, decrease stress and enhance mood- all of which are monumentally important right now.
Have a designated work space and a Separate relaxing area
Designating a specific work area as your “office” can make a huge difference. As we all venture to adapt to this new lifestyle, it is important to separate our workspace from our non-workspace. Our bodies are dreadfully habitual creatures.
As a result, we do not do very well working from our bed or sleeping from our desk. We cannot relax in our conference room and it may seem counterintuitive, but we cannot work in a toy littered jungle gym. The point here being, as enticing as it may be to roll from one side of the bed, grab your computer and start work, our bodies struggle with that.
An easy way to combat finding yourself in this lull is to designate an “office space” that you specifically go to while you are working. When it is break time, go to a relaxing area. After break time is up, head back to your office space. At the end of the business day, turn off the lights, close shop, and mentally “flip the switch” letting your body know that work is done, and relaxation can start.
As tough as these times may be, technology and the age we live in can help. I read an incredible article the other day that talked about a minor grammatical switch from “Social Distancing” to “Distant Socializing”. The difference in words might be insignificant but the impact they can have on our day to day lives will be nothing less than profound.
As humans, we are social creatures. We thrive on contact and connection. When we cannot have it or are not able to fulfill those needs, we start to unwind.
During these trying times it is important to stay connected to our social circles and networks that link us to our communities. Thankfully technology can help. Whether it be facetime, zoom, skype, or the postal service, we are the most connected we have ever been.
For more information, Bryan Robinson wrote a brilliant article for Forbes touching on these few tips and more during the Covid quarantine. Check it out here.