Coping with WFH Isolation During COVID-19 Outbreak

Amid the warnings set out by government organizations over the Coronavirus, plenty of office workers have been required to work from home until further notice. My company is one of those enforcing this policy. So for the foreseeable future, I will be working from home. It can be a scary time for people, especially those who know or are members of more vulnerable groups like the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions.

I’ve spent a good amount of time alone, so I have some insights on coping in a time like this. Here are some positive takeaways from working and living in relative isolation.

Dealing with Anxiety Around COVID-19

While the majority of the population may not have the Coronavirus at this time, we are all affected to different extents by it. Our main preoccupations during this time are fear; a sense of instability, unknown, and lack of control; and a tapping into our survivalist mentality and tendencies. It is important that we remain committed to combating excessive fear. We can start to do this by preparing for isolation to the best of our abilities by purchasing the materials that will help to make us feel more secure in our home environment. But in addition to this, here are some useful thoughts to keep in mind.

Continue Life as Usual, but Modified

To alleviate some of our feelings of fear and instability, it is important that we continue to live out our daily lives with any accommodations we need to make. While the world has changed seemingly overnight, individuals can benefit greatly from keeping stable rooting. If you work out every morning and you no longer feel comfortable going to the gym, opt for a morning workout at home. You can bring out your old yoga mat and follow a guided session on YouTube. Modify but don’t entirely eliminate parts of your life that make you feel good, happy, and healthy.

If you need further help to remain calm during this time, you may want to pick up a new self-soothing habit like journaling. Find an old notebook or even printer paper, and start jotting down your thoughts. Listen to calming music and take some time to sit in the present. Continue to plan for the future.

Use This as a Time of Reflection and Change

If it doesn’t cause you additional anxiety, you may choose to see this time as one of deep reflection. For me, I have used the past week at home to evaluate the goals I have in life and to really ask myself why I don’t think I can achieve them. Because of my realizations, I’ve sought out individuals who can help me achieve my goals. For example, I really want to get great with money this year, so I found a financial advisor.

With the realization that the world can change at any moment, I have had to stop questioning whether or not I can do something. And instead of just talking about my goals, I’m giving myself a fair shot to achieve them. Part of coping with a scary time like this is understanding that there is life beyond it. While keeping a future-oriented view is not virus-proof, it can really instill some healthy, distracting ideas that can keep fear at bay, even if temporarily.

Look at the Larger Picture

When I get anxious, it really helps me to look at the larger picture. If we look at diseases like this, we start to see a pattern. COVID-19 started in a meat market, Swine Flu is from pigs, Bird Flu is from birds, MERS is from camels, Mad Cow Disease is from cows, and Sars is from bats. Now, we are listening to the World Health Organization during this critical time, but we chose to ignore them when they told us in 2015 that meat is a carcinogen.

It is important to examine our daily choices and understand that we are all part of a world in which every action has a consequence. We may decide to use this time to determine if it’s really in our best interest to continue ingesting foods that make us ill, cause deadly diseases, devastate the environment, and leave billions hungry. Some documentaries for learning more about our personal impact through our food choices are: What the Health, Game Changers, and Cowspiracy. They are all viewable on Netflix.

Put Emphasis on Your Environment

When we work from home, it’s important that we make it easy and comfortable for ourselves. This means limiting our distractions and giving ourselves the upper-hand to get things done. Is your work area optimized for the work that you need to do? Do you have clutter that distracts you? While our contemporary “LinkedIn gurus” tell us we’re lazy and uncommitted if we can’t work in the most distracting and ill-suited environments, it may well help to actually clear the clutter and set ourselves up for success. Let us not deny any longer that making a peaceful space for working will enable us to do better work.

In my last apartment, I never bothered to furnish my living room. And I also never spent time there. Of course I didn’t want to spend time there, it was sterile and uncomfortable. At my new apartment, I set up a workstation and here I am using it frequently. Spaces matter.

Spending a considerate amount of time alone can be an immense opportunity for growth and reflection on the self and the larger picture. While this virus may be spreading and encouraging a state of fear, we can do our part by taking care that we remain happy and healthy in whatever situation we are currently in. During this time, we can show ourselves just how strong and adaptable we are.