One Year In...What I've Learned in Quarantine
One year ago, many of us were thrown into a new way of life. We shifted, adjusted, and found our new norm. We may not have known it then, but we were in for a long, difficult journey. During that time, Interaction Associates developed a series of blogs tackling topics on staying productive while working remotely.
One year later, many of us have found our groove in the remote setting. According to a Stanford University study, forty-two percent of the U.S. workforce has been working from home full-time during the pandemic. However, we’re still faced with challenges like the ongoing change in workload, balancing Zoom learning and childcare for our kids while working full time, and of course, the increased level of stress brought on by the pandemic.
In my blog, Swapping Dress Pants for Sweatpants? Not so Fast!, I provided guidelines to help preserve dignity while working remote. When I wrote this blog, routines like making the bed each morning, showering, getting dressed, and decompressing at the end of the day helped me maintain some type of balance in this rapidly changing world.
If you’re like me, you probably had ambitious goals of what you’d achieve during quarantine and how you’d hold on to some of your sanity. But, we also didn’t foresee this quarantine lifestyle to last well into 2020, let alone, over a year. We had to adjust our expectations based on the many blows we faced. Now, one year in, I’d like to provide a few insights I’ve learned that have helped me stay positive in this difficult time.
While I’m comfortable saying that my original tips held up, I can’t say that every day was perfect. I found myself in sweatpants, sans shower, with an unmade bed on many occasions. But, I never let that get me down and neither should you.
When it comes to creating a new habit or routine, don’t shoot for the moon. For example, a morning routine where you wake up, make your bed, exercise, meditate, read a chapter of your book, make breakfast for the family, shower, dress, and set goals for the workday may sound great. But, this is unrealistic unless you’re a 1960s sitcom housewife.
Instead, start simple and stay consistent. If you’re starting a new morning routine, start by making the bed every morning and setting goals every day, then add on to these additional habits as you feel more comfortable.
Mental Health is Crucial
In addition to my daily routine, mindset and mental health are at the top of my list. A quarantine upgrade, if you will – I found myself craving alternatives to my new norm to help keep me grounded and sane over the past year.
While working full-time from home, especially with kids, finding time for myself is sometimes a flash in the pan, and I tend to convince myself there’s not enough time for ‘this’, ‘that’ or ‘I’ll get to it after I finish this report” and before I know it, the workday has wrapped and it’s time to start dinner for the family and fold the heap of laundry that’s sitting in the dryer from last night.
Taking time for ourselves each morning is a great way to start each day. This doesn’t have to be a heavy lift and can fit in to anyone’s routine. Sometimes, we don't need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we already have. Trying to be optimistic doesn't mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.
You can find great tips from Mental Health America that have been important in boosting my own mental health.
Lean on Your Support System
The most important thing I learned over the last year was the importance of a support system, whether it’s friends, family, co-workers, or a mix of all three.
Specifically, at work, we must remember that in a scenario like a global pandemic, we’re all living through this same situation. Even though our experiences may vary. Because of this, my team has a built-in agreement that we will lean on one another whenever necessary. For example, jumping in on assistance with a teammate’s client while they deal with helping their kid in Zoom learning. Don’t try to be a hero at work when you’re facing challenges at home. Your team is there for you and wants to help you out however they can, and vice versa.
What have you learned in this last year that you’ll take with you well after this global pandemic? What routines helped you stay productive? Share your findings with colleague and encourage others to do the same.
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