I have seen an uptick in people seeking treatment for anxiety since March, when COVID reared its ugly head and took over. Without warning, we were forced into a new way of life. The luxury of working from home in our pajamas faded quickly as the boundaries between work and family time became blurred.
Suddenly, everyone is struggling.
Working parents are juggling meeting the demands of their jobs by plugging in 24/7, working without breaks and with constant interruptions. We’re making sure our children are attending classes, staying on top of their computer time, and managing hybrid schedules.
Those without children are feeling just as stressed. The 9-5 day is now extended: we’re waking up earlier and going to bed later in order to meet all of our obligations. We feel as if we have to work harder to prove we’re on top of things. There is no downtime.
Everything is a priority now.
No wonder we’re at wit’s end – we’re isolated, restless, overworked and depressed.
While there may seem to be no light at the end of the tunnel, the truth is that there is hope. We can manage our anxiety once we accept that there’s only so much we can control.
If you work from home, here are some tips to help you get through this with your sanity intact.
- Take inventory of what you do during a typical day at work. By this I mean really take the time to notice what you’re spending your energy on and see where you can cut back. For example, do you really have to answer every email right away or can you schedule blocks of time to respond? Can you direct text messages to your email so that you’re not constantly distracted by the ping? Do you really have to stay for the entire Zoom meeting or can you explain that you have to bow out after you’ve contributed your piece?
- Set a schedule and stick to it. Once you’ve noticed your work patterns, try to condense your tasks. Maybe answer emails from 8-9, 1-2, and for the last time from 4-5. Set an autoresponder that lets people know when you’ll be in touch. Block out times in your online calendar so colleagues know when you’re available (and most importantly, when you’re not).
- Work in chunks. Most of us get distracted, but if you set aside chunks of time to work on specific tasks you may find that you’re better able to focus and churn out more quality work. Set a timer and bang out that report. Get up, stretch, grab a snack, repeat.
- Schedule breaks for yourself, even if they’re only 5 minutes long. No one can work nonstop without burning out. The work will still be there when you come back.
- Set boundaries. When you set boundaries, you’re modeling respect for personal space. Unplug at the end of the day. I mean it – really unplug. Once you’ve entered family mode, stay there. If there’s an emergency, believe me they’ll find a way to get in touch with you.
This, too, shall pass.
Still need help managing your anxiety? Contact me for a free 20-minute consultation to learn how therapy can help.