This has been a LONG pandemic. Who would have thought in March 2020, when many of us went on a “two-week lockdown”, that many of us would still be impacted a year later.
Some folks have returned to working at their workplaces and other aspects of normal lives, thanks to vaccines and lifted restrictions. However, many Americans are still facing daily isolation: working from home and loss of in-person support systems and activities.
A number of the folks I work with have expressed experiencing anxiety as they continue to work-and socialize-from-home. Here are some of the anxiety triggers they have shared and suggestions for handling them so they don’t defeat you (have you notice any of these?):
Technology glitches: The internet goes down and other glitches that are out of our control.
What to do? Try to avoid catastrophic thinking such as “This is a disaster!” or “I can’t handle this!”. Instead, take a deep breath and say something with a positive but realistic expectation, “I don’t like this but we’ll get through it.”
Zoom fatigue: So many digital meetings! Zoom fatigue is a real thing.
What to do? Try these tips to help: Give your eyes a break frequently (screen time strains and dries the eyes), turn off your camera when you can (looking at yourself is exhausting), remind yourself NOT to compare yourself to your colleagues (the Zoom equivalent of Pinterest-perfection envy).
Work/life imbalance: When your office is in your bedroom (or anywhere else in your home), it’s easy to be on call 24/7.
What to do? Remember that you can’t have the most of all worlds, all the time. Adjust expectations and set times when you are off-duty.
Single person, living alone: SO much isolation! Long-term isolation is definitely a trigger for anxiety.
What to do? Get outside for a walk (if you have a friend you can social-distance walk with, that’s even better). Find museums or other institutions that have Covid-safety protocols in place and visit. Check meetups online for Covid-safe activities. Increase your mindfulness activities to keep anxiety under control.
Kids at home for their education: How do you manage hybrid or full-time school situations PLUS get your work done responsibly?
What to do? Work on lowering current expectations and remember that kids are resilient (they will recover from a less-than-optimal situation). Work on 3R’s: Routines, reassurance, regulation. (Create gentle routines to reduce household anxiety, reassure your kids of your love and protection, help them learn self-regulation with deep breathing and 3Ws.)
Friend and family division on how to handle COVID: Many people have experienced stress (and even, strife) with friends and family on different ways to handle the pandemic. I’ve heard about arguments over wearing masks, getting vaccines, and attending large family events.
What to do? Remember you are not alone: Many people have experienced stress with friends and family on different ways to handle the pandemic. ALSO remember: It’s not your job to make anyone agree with you (even when you are right), so it’s okay to just refuse to argue.
More on what to do: Remember that it’s okay to make space between you and them for now. You will also need to move on from some people (especially those who are more casual “friends” on social media).
Too much same-same-same: Our brains work best will good care (hydration, healthy food, stimulation). Through the pandemic many of us have had way too much of the same old, same old. Same four walls, same activities.
What to do: Get outside (and if you can’t get outside, at least spend a while looking out the window), take up a new hobby or learn something new, contact old friends, find an online volunteer opportunity.
Too much time social media causing mental health issues: Americans have been spending more time on social media throughout the pandemic. It helps people feel less lonely and more connected to something. BUT have you noticed that the social media algorithms tend to serve you things that will get you riled up? Scary or anxiety producing posts tend to draw us in and keep us on that medium’s platform longer. We can get addicted to the anxiety inducing posts, thus creating our own anxiety and feelings of helplessness.
What to do: Be your own scientist. Experiment with noticing which platforms and posts cause the most anxiety then refuse to engage those posts. Spend more time on posts that bring you joy. This will change the algorithm for you. Know when to get off a platform altogether by watching how much stress that platform causes you.
Working from home or working under pandemic stress has caused some people to reevaluate their lives and careers. If you are at that place and are ready for life or career coaching, contact me: https://vickitillmancoaching.com/contact/