02 Apr Simple Ways to Thrive During Trying Times
There’s no denying that the COVID-19 outbreak is causing Americans a great deal of stress. According to a poll by the Washington Post, “Stress levels appear to be higher today than they were during the Great Recession that followed the financial collapse of 2008, with 7 in 10 Americans citing the virus outbreak as a source of that stress and 1 in 3 saying it caused ‘serious’ stress. During the deep recession in early 2009, fewer than 6 in 10 said the economy was a source of stress.”
In addition to the stress about the virus and its potential implications, our entire lifestyles and routines have changed. Though working from home has been on the rise in the digital era, only 5 percent of U.S. workers reported working from home full-time before the COVID-19 outbreak. According to a recent Thrive Global survey, over 80 percent of employees say they are already feeling significantly more distracted and over 70 percent say they are feeling less productive during this time.
So what can we do about all of this? According to that same survey, 85 percent of individuals wished they knew more small, actionable ways to thrive during these challenging times. We have a few simple recommendations for keeping a positive mindset and feeling your best while staying at home.
Be compassionate to yourself and others. Remember that there’s no “right” way to experience what’s happening, and this is new territory for everyone. In a recent article for the Harvard Business Review, grief expert David Kessler writes, “One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us.”
Create an ideal atmosphere. One benefit of working from home is that you may have more control over your environment than you would in a shared workspace. Studies have shown that workers with a good view perform 10-25% better in terms of mental function and memory recall. Variability in airflow and temperature (similar to being outside) has also been linked to greater well-being, concentration, and comfort. If possible, position your workspace near a window with a view and open that window to let some fresh air in. Some people also find it helpful to continue their regular morning routine to put them in a workday mindset. Instead of lying in bed with your laptop, take a shower, get dressed, and sit down at a table with an upright chair, like you would at your office desk.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. The key to working from home is maintaining clear communication. A study by Buffer reported last year that loneliness was the second-most reported challenge from remote workers, and loneliness can make people feel less motivated and less productive. Be sure to set up regular check-ins with supervisors and coworkers, but don’t keep your interactions strictly business-related. Incorporate in-office social activities to create a sense of unity among your team. Make time for casual conversations with no agenda – have your morning coffee together on a video call, celebrate birthdays with a virtual happy hour, give public praise for completed projects and goals, etc. It’s also important to be honest with each other. Going fully remote is a new experience for many employees and companies so it may take time to find new ways to accomplish tasks and collaborate. Regularly discuss what is working and what’s not to create a clear path forward.
Get on camera. Only 7 percent of communication is verbal. The other 93 percent is made up of body language (55 percent) and tone of voice (38 percent). Seeing each other face-to-face can not only allow us to communicate more effectively, but it helps us to not feel so isolated. Video chats aren’t just for work, either. Use them to keep up with friends and family members in your off hours to maintain your social life and foster personal relationships. Check out our previous post, Digital Tools to Help You Stay Connected, for a list of apps you can use to stay in touch.
Set boundaries. A common challenge when working from home is finding it difficult to unplug after office hours. Without the commute and physical change of space, it can be difficult to begin and close out the day. Try creating “psychological segues” that help put you in the right mindset. Examples are enjoying a quiet morning coffee before turning on your computer and taking a walk immediately after logging off. Another suggestion is to set an alarm for lunch and other breaks.
Enjoy the small things. Take time each day to do something you enjoy. Get back into a favorite hobby like baking, painting, reading, or playing an instrument. Take a nap. Get moving. Go on a walk in your neighborhood. Create special memories with your family. Express gratitude for all of these things. The world is giving us a unique opportunity to slow down and appreciate the beauty of life. Take this cue and savor the moment.
Coldwell Banker Caine hopes you stay safe and well during this time. To learn more about our COVID-19 policies and updates, click here. #CBCaine #HomeTogether #CaineThrive