In a time when so much is uncertain - finances, health, and employment, for instance - our wellbeing is taking a toll. Americans everywhere are stressed about avoiding a serious disease and earning enough money to afford necessities. These worries about physical wellbeing often manifest themselves in stress and decreased mental health.
Concerns about contracting COVID-19 and job stability are two of our nation’s main fears at the moment. Over 40% of Americans are “very concerned" about catching the disease and another 28% are “somewhat concerned.” Over two-thirds of citizens are also worried about keeping their job through the pandemic.
In addition to these crucial issues, many employees are suffering from lack of interaction with peers they used to spend most of their day with. Before the pandemic, the U.S. was already suffering from widespread loneliness - an issue that is only being exacerbated by the current pandemic and resulting social distancing guidelines.
Considering that Americans spend most of their days at work, their job environment and coworker relationships can either contribute to or help relieve feelings of solitude. In the last few months, millions of jobs have transitioned online and millions more employees have been dismissed altogether. Undoubtedly, this situation is escalating already prevalent feelings of isolation.
Your mental state can affect your health, happiness, and even how productive you are at work. Here are four tips for how to prioritize your mental health during COVID-19:
1. Establish a Routine
Transitioning from working in an office space to working from home can be difficult. For many, home is associated with relaxation, and family time and distractions are prevalent. To make working from home less overwhelming, try to maintain a normal routine as best you can. Set up a quiet, organized, and private (if possible) workspace. Try to wake up at the same time, end work at the same time, and perform work duties during work hours. Keeping a routine during COVID-19 is crucial to maintaining productivity and personal satisfaction.
2. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is also important for one’s mental health when adopting a remote work schedule. It can be tempting to work after hours or squeeze in some non-work activities from nine to five. However, this can blur the lines between work and leisure time, ultimately making work time less productive and leisure time less relaxing. Communicate with family members or roommates that they should only interrupt you for emergencies and set aside time for them before and after work.
3. Be Physically Active
Countless studies have validated the role of exercise in maintaining good mental health. From increasing serotonin to easing anxiety, even a walk around the block can boost your mood. A morning yoga practice or a run around the neighborhood can make you more energized and productive at work.
4. Engage with Others
Finally, during this period of isolation, make it a priority to stay in contact with friends and loved ones. Spend some quality time with others in your household and take advantage of virtual communication methods to stay in touch with those living outside your home. Zoom happy hours or group calls are both fun ways to maintain relationships with friends and coworkers. Good relationships are the cornerstone of good mental health, so don’t let them go by the wayside during this time of physical social distancing.
Precarious finances, job security, and physical separation from close friends and family can all take a serious toll on our mental state. Poor mental health can harm individual happiness, motivation, and work productivity. Don’t let your mental wellbeing take a backseat during COVID-19; your happiness and your career goals will both benefit from its prioritization.