It’s March! The sun is shining, the weather is warm, aaaaaand COVID-19 is impacting our country in a serious way. The economy is taking a major hit, people are being laid off from their jobs, and those who still are working are at risk for COVID-19 infection. Most of us are working from home virtually, schools are cancelled, and day care is really risky to our families so most people are choosing to keep their kids home.
All of these stresses and changes are costing us mental health “bucks” and we’re all bound to go broke- in more ways than one. As a therapist, I have been seeing my clients via telehealth and trying my best to support people in the community adjusting to the CoronApocalypse 2020. Here are the big takeaways so far this week after working with and learning from my clients (who are all fierce-socially-distancing-warriors).
Make yourself a little work space. I don’t care if you go to target a redecorate your guest bedroom to a chic little office (yes, I did do this) OR get a TV dinner stand for your laptop in front of a chair OR take over the dining room table between 9-5pm. Create some kind of work environment that sends the behavioral signal “HERE WORK, THERE HOME” (please read in a cave-man voice in your head).
Simple strategies like this to compartmentalize help us stay mentally fit and improve our work/home boundaries. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean the importance of boundaries is taking a vacation.
Working at home in your PJs with 4 day unwashed hair is super cool… for like 3 seconds. There is something so powerful about the rituals of our day: every workday I shower, do my hair and make up listening to podcasts, kiss my dogs on the mouth and head to work. If I don’t do that, I am taking away the mental space to get in the right mood and thinking zone.
Most people who are now adjusting to working from home just get up, slap on some pants, grab a cup of coffee, and go straight to work. AKA robbing themselves of the ritual that “gets their mind right” for working.
Want to know why Kindergarten classes with a bazillion children go smoothly? They have rituals that help the kids transition. We all remember the teacher clapping a tune and we had to clap the end of the song and we ALL know that it meant: “time to shut the heck up and pay attention.” Putting your makeup on while shaking your rump to Lady Gaga is just an adult version. Don’t skip it.
Structurize (it’s not a real word, deal with it)
If you have no agenda and are staying up til 2pm watching YouTube videos, your mental health is on the down slope to crazy town. Listen, there is a reason we raise children with a bed time. Our circadian rhythm is so important to our cognitive functioning. Put the phone down, Karen. Just put it down.
Ways to keep structure in your life:
- Keep a semi-normal bedtime and wake up time during the workdays
- Make sure you do something fun during the weekends to differentiate the weekend from the work days
Keep working out even though the gyms are closed
- Go do a run
- Do a workout or yoga class online
- Go for a bike ride
Still hang out with your friends
- Use a video platform like Zoom or Skype to “have a beer” (or just chat for my recovery peeps out there)
About the Author: Kayla Reilly MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist and founder of Evolution Wellness, a counseling center in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in relationships and helps people be better in every relationship role they have. When she’s not busy helping people conquer their mental health and relationship wellbeing, you can find her snuggling her dogs, reading, or playing a mean game of poker.
Evolution Wellness is a counseling center in Wilmington, NC that offers individual counseling and couple’s counseling. Our professional counselors are trained to listen with empathy and expertise and offer guidance to facilitate your personal growth.