Working from a home office is by no means a new concept. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an environment that has vastly increased the number of people who must do so to comply with current public health regulations.
As with any significant change in our lives, adjusting and adapting to the “at home” work environment has been challenging or even painful for many.
First and foremost in a situation such as this, it is important to acknowledge that we have experienced a loss. Even if the “work at home” environment hasn’t reduced our income, we have lost the social contact with our co-workers. Gone are the “on the job” interactions, as well as the opportunities to connect with others during lunch and coffee breaks.
Acknowledging that there can be many other blatant and subtle losses connected to this type of change, I will address two more, later in this post.
At this point, I would rather use this example to encourage and support the next step.
When we do not fully address our losses, negative consequences are likely to result. Our moods and emotions change, impacting our friends and families.
Counselling can be invaluable in working through our losses as noted elsewhere on this website. I can speak from personal experience when I say that investing in our mental well-being pays off many times over.
One subtle pair of losses related to working from home that often go unrecognized, are the loss of our routines and boundaries. If one thinks of their “usual” work day, it may look like this: Breakfast, a shower, putting on “work clothes” followed by a drive or bus ride. Once our workday is done, our ritual may be to pick up some groceries on the way home as we begin the transition to our evening’s activities.
These rituals help us to segment the various parts of our day. Essentially, they help us to establish the boundaries that prevent the “two worlds” from unduly overlapping or interfering with each other.
However, in a Working At Home environment, there is no physical distance between ourselves and “the office”. This makes it much more challenging to establish a psychological boundary between our work life and our personal life.
I would like to suggest that establishing an adaptive routine is vital to our mental well-being during this pandemic. It is possible to duplicate many of the daily rituals, such as the breakfast-shower-getting dressed sequence (yes, I highly recommend getting out of those PJ’s) !!
As gimmicky as it may seem, once the basic “morning routine” has been completed, please consider heading out the door . . . replace the drive/ride to work with a walk, and at the end of the day, do the same. From that point forward, the office is “out-of-bounds” . . . if your “office” is the kitchen table, then the company laptop needs to be turned off, and put out of sight !!
In noting all of the above hardships related to this aspect of the pandemic, I believe it is important to acknowledge the positive consequences of the changes that have been forced upon us. Perhaps a two or three hour commute has been replaced by a couple of relaxing 20 minute walks? Our air is cleaner. Maybe quality time with our loved ones has increased. What ever the pluses, let’s be mindful of them as we move toward mental wellness through our ever-present ability to adapt. © 2021-03-31