When your office becomes your home and your home becomes your office, it becomes difficult to see where one ends and the other begins. Many of us multi-task, listening in on conference calls while making a child’s lunch, keeping an eye on the dog while trying to talk to clients, trying to interact with family while also staying present with coworkers. It’s an exhausting juggle. In all of that, where do we make time for our own sanity, our own physical and mental health? When the pandemic first began, many of us put our head down and pushed through, assuming it was a temporary change. Here we are a year later, with many changes permanent. We must find a way to go beyond endurance and find a way to live again, maybe even thrive.
How can you take control of your time, when there is less of a work/life balance? Blend them.
Keep or create a routine – this is as much for you as it is for your coworkers’ and family’s expectations of you. Set aside time to eat, stretch, exercise, and rest your eyes. Scheduling calendar blocks will minimize interruptions from meetings, messages, and tasks. Take advantage of “Focus Time”, a newer functionality in Outlook, and allocate larger blocks of time to answer emails or think without interruptions. Outside of work hours, try to ‘unplug’ as much as possible. Charging stations / boxes have become more popular, creating a physical reminder to recharge your phone and your mind.
The beauty of WFH is that there is flexibility. What can wait until later in the evening, and what needs your attention immediately? As we learn to re-prioritize our work, we are creating space to prioritize ourselves. Go for that 10am jog. Take your kids on a 3pm walk. Allow yourself a 10-minute meditation. The goal is to dial down your nervous system periodically, rather than letting it get too stimulated and overwhelmed by the end of the day. Save those status updates, document reviews, timesheet updates, and other independent activities for after the evening or early morning. Outlook allows emails to be scheduled, so if you feel like emails work better at night, set them to be delivered the next morning.
We are so far into this new way of life, that it’s possible we have allowed ourselves to break down and don’t know how to take the steps to reclaim our mental, physical, and emotional health. That’s okay! The mental health field has been overflowing with requests for virtual therapy sessions, and it’s a sign of the times that asking for help is not only accepted but encouraged. Many apps provide therapy in a messaging format, which is great if you have competing priorities. Many mental health practices offer video appointments. Talk about anxiety, stress, family balancing, work frustrations, whatever you want. We at HFL offer coaching, which allows you to control the conversation, topic, and goals.
We are in unprecedented times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t set the precedent for the future. HFL can provide coaching, mindfulness activities, and resilience training. Employers can change the system by making mental health as important as physical health, with annual screenings, wellness incentives, wellness activities, etc.
For more ways to take control of your mental wellbeing and offer support to your employees, contact HFL and start the conversation. Written by:
Christine Tsuchida, MA OD Consultant and Strategy Expert firstname.lastname@example.org