Many of us who work in shared spaces come from working from home. However, working from home is not the same because we have decided so, as being at home without the possibility of leaving. Some also with children without going to school, financial difficulties or perhaps a sick family member.
2 important players
Under these circumstances, although we are used to it, the levels of anxiety and stress are very different when there is an external agent that we cannot control. This limits our activities and is unpredictable; anxiety and stress can play very important roles.
We have read a thousand times about creating healthy routines, keeping, as much as possible, the same routines that we had outside, but it is very easy to say and a little more complicated to make it work. After more than a month in confinement, anxiety and stress levels have been increasing for everyone.
How do we stay sane while being all different?
This question does not have a concrete answer, sorry. But there are many ways in which we can help each other. To create this ‘famous’ healthy routine that we read so much about in social media posts, it is necessary to know what works for everyone and keep in mind that there are no miracle recipes or ancient secrets. However, there are simple changes we can make to lessen the effects that confinement can have.
Work mode on
Keep, as much as possible, our workplace separate from our resting place. Trying to work in a different room than the one we use to sleep. If you live in a studio apartment, you can do different things to change the space depending on the activity you are doing. Keep the space clean and collected, try to change your clothes to work and not be in pajamas all day.
The brain begins to wake up when it understands that we are in "active" mode and when we do different things than we do when we go to sleep or rest. If we are always in pajamas and work from bed, when we go to rest or sleep, your brain will be more difficult because there is no sign of change. Taking your computer away will not be enough, which can ultimately lead to poor, deep sleep, and makes you more tired than normal.
Movement at home
Doing some physical activity always helps. Many times we do not realize it because it is part of our usual routine, but just walking a few minutes when we go from the house to the car or the subway and inside the office already keeps the body moving. The change from being at home all day in confinement is quite radical, although we may not think so.
Moving is always important, and trying to drain energy through that movement is one of the best ways to generate endorphins and release stress. This topics is also quite often repeated, but if you keep to it, maybe it means it really will work. Not everything works for anyone. There are those who run, those who dance, people who do yoga, etc. Thanks to technology and all the exercise variations available today, you can exercise at home. You don't have to crossfit on the couch, but about 20 minutes of dancing or yoga is enough to disconnect and drain energy that we haven't consumed from being at home.
Official sources, real sources
Don't fill yourself with unnecessary information. Being informed is important, but you have to be very careful with what we consume in this era of social networks and immediate information. Many times, because this is a highly unknown and unpredictable event, we feel that being informed is a way to have control over the situation. While it is true that knowing what is happening can generate a sense of control, however, the truth is that there are also all kinds of false and alarmist information at hand. Even more than real and verified information.
Consuming information in situations like this can lead to increased levels of anxiety and stress because we are in vicious circles where we do not stop searching. It is not healthier to be informed, if we are filling ourselves with false or alarmist information, try to keep your sources limited to officials and try not to read them all day, but reduce it to key moments.
Personalize your free moments
Fill the free moments with different things, but don't push yourself. Situations like the one we are currently experiencing can generate different effects in each one. There are people who need to drain all the energy they do not consume and need to do a thousand things: read the book they had pending, paint, dance, create something new, plan a project they had on hiatus or for which they had not had time, and a thousand more things.
On the other hand, there are also people who are operating with energies much lower than normal. Some feel tired even if they don't do much, they don't feel like doing anything and they are emotionally exhausted. All of these are normal responses of our organism to events like the present and there is no correct answer, or a better or worse way of dealing with it. You don't have to get out of quarantine with a new college degree, a new career or hobby, or wanting to change the world. We all need space to deal with such an event, and there are no right ways.
There are many recommendations for quarantining, my vision is that we should edit this list and take from it what we believe can serve us on a personal level, and leave the rest to whoever it is useful for. Simply attend to our mental and physical health.
Raise your hand if you need to
We do not yet know how long we will be in this process, nor what repercussions it will have on a psychological or social level. So the best we can do is try to keep anxiety, stress and depression levels as low as possible to avoid more serious consequences when all this is over.
However, thinking about this can also generate anguish and that is when we must know how to ask for help. There are many organizations that are offering psychological help for people who need it. Knowing and accepting when it leaves our control is important.
It is the first time in this generation that, as a society, we have experienced something so great and with so much impact worldwide. So it is crucial that we all come out of this situation together. Perhaps this will also help us create more community-oriented spaces like ours.
What happens when the confinement ends?
Now that confinement measures begin to relax and some companies will begin to return to their workspaces, it is normal to feel an increase in anxiety and stress associated with the fear of contagion and the impact of being in a social environment or in a community. This can cause anxiety because they have been quarantined for so long.
Something important at this time, is to consider that the levels of attention and alertness are much higher than in normal circumstances. In this sense, one of the most common ways of reducing anxiety generated by current circumstances is to try to maintain control in other situations that we face.
It is normal to want to control whether or not others follow the sanitary measures imposed by the authorities and the health agencies of each country (and even doubt if these are sufficient). However, the important thing is not to remain in that doubt, knowing that we cannot master what other people do. What we can do is make sure that we ourselves are doing what we can and trust that these are the necessary measures to avoid contagion and the spread of the virus.
We also do not control when we will return to our normal routines, nor what that new normal will be like but if we bet on the necessary flexibility we will carry that return in the healthiest way possible, without going to extremes. Let's understand that it will be little by little, that we will have to keep our distance. Making sure we do this is what will make the crisis go faster and the distance between us gets shorter and shorter.