In the wake of the cornoravirus pandemic, society has been forced to shift the way it thinks, lives, works and learns. This has had a major impact on our lifestyles, our routines and, most importantly, our mental health.
For some, the idea of living and working in the same space seems picture-perfect: Wake up, make coffee and start your day while never leaving the comfort of your bed. However, as the shelter in place guidelines are extended, some are finding their spaces more cramped and confined based on the number of people who inhabit the home – spouses, family members, roommates and children.
This can quickly escalate to become stressful and then overwhelming, causing major fatigue to your mental health, according to American Career College Nursing Dean Dr. Lorna Kendrick.
“Great mental health boosts your immune system, allowing you to stay healthier and fight off illness. It is absolutely vital to care for yourself,” Kendrick said. “We are working harder and more hours than we typically do when in the office. We must remember to take breaks, find structure and be creative on how we live during these times.”
It is easy to fall into the trap of working non-stop because that is all many of us can do at the moment. Consider setting an alarm as a reminder to take small 5- or 10-minute breaks every hour. Get your mind off of work and studies, move your body, read a book, call a friend, find something that makes your laugh or go outside and soak in some Vitamin D.
Whether you’re home alone or trying to manage your family, one of the best things you can do is to create a schedule and stick to it. Identify your daily schedule for work or to study and where you will be located. Your workspace should not be where you sleep. Be sure to plan time in for your lunches. Add your family layers into the schedule i.e., the kids’ school schedules, partner’s workday. This will help your family get everyone into a routine by knowing when and what you are working on. Most importantly, establish a time when everyone is done with “work/studying” and family/personal time can begin.
When bored and confined, people tend to eat more, Kendrick said. So she recommends making sure to exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. Some home workout options include stretches, yoga, or cardio exercise programs. If you can walk in your backyard or down the street while wearing the proper personal protective equipment, that is recommended too. It is important not to skip a day.
Everyone needs sanctuary. Designate a space for people to have some “me” time in a safe, quiet place without interruptions. This could be a spare room, the garage or the patio. Try placing a sign or schedule on the door so it’s clear when it’s in use and won’t disturb the individual during their time.
While no one expects you to put on formal dining wear each night, Kendrick suggests having a slightly more strict dress code in the house. While it might be fun to attend online class in your pajamas or take a conference call in shorts, Kendrick said how you dress helps dictate your mindset.
“By staying in your pajamas, it sets the mood for an unending day blurring into your normal sleep patterns,” she said. “As a healthcare professional would you go to work in your sweat pants?”
“De-stress, keep regular hours, don't keep working just because you can. If you have kids, try to get up and start earlier and finish earlier or on time so you maintain designated family time without having any work or study distractions. Play board games, I do 2,000-piece puzzles and it takes my mind off the day. Take a walk or dig in the yard, listen to music, watch a funny movie — but please don't become a couch potato,” Kendrick said.
ACC cannot guarantee employment. Programs vary by campus. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.
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