The pandemic isn’t over just yet. Arizona recently got to advance to Phase 1B, which truthfully isn’t that different from Phase 1A. Things will really be rolling once we get to Phase 1C, but that still leaves us with a winter full of pandemic guidelines that we still need to follow.
Winter in Arizona really isn’t that bad as far as the weather goes. We still have sunny days in the 60’s and now moving into the 70’s but there is something about knowing it’s winter than can build up that mental block in your mind. The holidays just finished up and most of us are still exhausted from that. On top of that, the news is emotionally depleting between the covid-19 deaths rising and the extreme climate of our political sector it has become harder to take those soothing breaths.
Give your work from home routine a makeover.
Did someone say MAKEOVER? Oh, that was me. Personally, the most tiring and mundane thing about this pandemic for me has been working from home. Extroverts and not equipped to handle this! I think even introverts and getting weary of having their work space overtake their home space. It really is hard to compartmentalize when your life is set up that way.
Day in and day out, you walk to your makeshift office, which is probably just a couple steps away from the kitchen, and try to focus on your work day. At first, it was nice being able to take breaks to work on keeping the house clean or have your kids home with you. But that advantage quickly loses its shine.
The best thing I’ve done to combat this work from home depression is little routine makeovers every couple weeks. I switch the room I’m working in, switch the order of my day around, and look for more opportunities to make that particular day unique to the one before. It really does work!
Switching up the room is probably what helps my productivity the most. Sometimes I do my music research from the kitchen bar, then I’ll move to the coffee table, the dining room, the “office” which is really supposed to be a breakfast area, and sometimes, I’ll even set up in bed. My work-in-bed days are really only when I’m really ahead on work and not feeling well- really it’s more like work from the couch. When I switch the room, everything changes for a while. My posture and attention span reset, the lighting is different which just makes my brain work in a slightly different way, plus what I’m seeing directly in front of me is different. A change in environment could be just what you need if you’re in a work-from-home rut. See if you can try working in a different room for a while!
Changing your order of activities is great for people who don’t have a lot of leeway with what room they are working out of. Get up a little earlier and do something before work, make a real breakfast, take a walk, whatever! Or maybe you use your lunch break and hit the grocery store or use the time to do something creatively stimulating. Switching up the order of things is going to help your mental acuity and gives you a chance to approach your work from a slightly different angle.
Making the work day unique is a bit more of a challenge. Since I’m pregnant, it’s usually food related for me. Some days I’ll treat myself to a nacho lunch or go out and get a poke bowl. Other things I’ve done is break up my day with a trip out somewhere, like bringing my husband lunch. It doesn’t have to be something spectacular for it to accomplish the goal of making your work week feel a little different. Plan it out at the beginning of the week to ensure you have a chance to try it without getting caught up in the “always at work” life-suck that happens when you work from home.
Connect more with others.
Overall I think we agree that the most damaging thing to our personal lives has been the severe lack of person-to-person connection. Meeting new people is at an all time low but the need to meet new people is just as high as ever. Without city-wide events to bring new groups of people together, that organic connection- even the fleeting ones- is lost.
Connection is kind of what makes us human, ultimately. The variety of connections that we have is what makes us the more advanced species. It is absolutely essential to keep those connections alive or we can lose who are.
So how do we keep connecting with others during a time when physical connection is a huge “no-no”? Well, we are kind of lucky this is all happening in the 21st century because are options are really wide! In fact, we have SO many opportunities to stay connected that we end up taking it for granted and forgetting about them.
Wiggle out of your covid-cocoon and Facetime your friend you haven’t gotten to see in forever. Set up a date where you both go to a park with some food and video chat. Send the occasional meme to people from the office you no longer get to connect with on a daily basis. Write a letter and include some pictures for your family across the country that you haven’t seen. Download a gaming app that you can play long-distance with your friend. The list goes on and on. It’s not the same, but it’s really a great substitute considering the alternative.
This year, connect more with your people and do it in creative ways. When the pandemic is over, don’t stop.
Keep your body moving.
Get up! Sure, maybe you aren’t going too far because you’re confined to your house or work space, but just get your body active. Not only does movement help us realign our thoughts by restimulating our brain but it’s going to help your physical health too.
Putting on some weight during the pandemic is absolutely okay but it’s also been frustrating for a lot of people. One huge thing you can do to help combat that fatigue and pandemic-bloat is just by moving around more. Whether it’s doing the stairs at home, taking a 15 minute walking break outside of the office or even just standing and wiggling around a bit in your immediate work space- it all helps! Get your muscles activated so that they can reboot your metabolism and get digestion flowing again.
If you get a fitness device, those can be great help for this since they will send you little reminders after you’ve been logging no movement for a couple hours. And I can speak on body movement during pregnancy. I thought it was going to be hard to move… but turns out it’s a use it or lose it thing. Since I’ve remained active throughout the whole journey, at nearly 35 weeks, I’m still able to do cardio, weights, walk my dogs, and anything else I want- pain free! It’s like that even if you aren’t pregnant. Use it or lose it.
Simple body movements have big influences! It’s ALWAYS better than nothing, so stand up for a while.
Knock out some household projects.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I feel like I was doing this a lot more. Then the pandemic kept going. And going. And going. Somewhere along the way, I think around Halloween, the household project motivation kind of evaporated. Not to mention the holidays happened which is a joyous time that can completely clutter a house.
We were so hopeful at the start of all of this, so maybe if you do more house projects again- as if guests will actually see it soon, hope will be restored? Might be a stretch but it’s worth a try. Plus, what’s the worse that can happen here? You get something done that you needed to do anyway. Oh no!
Start off with the general reorganization of your home and then move onto the things you’ve been putting off. You know, that one project your husband started and never finished and you knew one day you’d just have to deal with it yourself? Yeah, it’s time.
*reminds myself I need to buy doors to put onto this closet remodel*
Replenish your mental health.
Things are bound to pick up again in the summer. We will be in a general population roll out of the vaccine and everyone is going to be itching to get back on the move. Use this back half of winter to make sure that your mental health is restored first.
It feels like an eternity ago, but it wasn’t. Just last year we were constantly on-the-go and complaining about how that was mentally depleting. How it was so easy to get caught up in other people’s agendas and expectations that we didn’t have the time to focus on ourselves. Well, here it is. The world finally came to a screeching halt to give you the opportunity to work on yourself like you asked for. Don’t miss out on it.
There isn’t a one size fits all formula for this one. You know what you need. For a lot of people, I think the best most effective way to restore your balance is by doing some things that bring enjoyment. Not the kind that comes from eating chocolate cake but the kind that happens when you do something that fulfills you.
Playing an instrument, completing a puzzle, whatever it is, it’s going to be the type of task that doesn’t leave you feeling like you gave up a chunk of yourself after doing it.
My main thing I like to do is working out. I always feel a lot more like myself after I get my morning sweat in. My isntructor is so uplifting, she makes me feel like I am warrior queen that is going to kick the day in the a**! My head is clear and ready to take on the day afterwards.
Find an activity that gives you that same boost and do it several times a week to keep your mind healthy.
Prepare for the unknown future.
This might be the most beneficial thing we can do as we start to wrap-up winter and fight to the finish with this pandemic. Be more prepared for the unknown.
We, as a society, put a lot of pressure into planning the future. We meticulously plan out each step to our careers or where we want our finances to be by the time we are 30 that when something like THIS happens, we feel as if we were slapped in the face. Totally defeated. I think it’s time we prepare less for what we want to happen and plan more for a blurry future.
Now you can’t really plan for what you don’t know but what I mean is be ready curve balls. Don’t have a plan that is so strict that it completely falls apart when a little opposition pushes back. Have plans that have detours. Don’t be afraid to take a scenic route to a destination.
Notice I never said “stop planning because the future is unknown.” It’s important to keep planning. Keep dreaming. Keep trying. Having plans is a pretty big motivating factor in life. They give us something to look forward to and work towards. Just because you don’t know if you’ll be able to travel to see family this summer, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get it on the calendar. Don’t let the fear of cancellation keep you from having a future!
If you are feeling discouraged from how the new year has started, this whole article was for you! Before spring brings flowers, you have to lay down the seeds and that is exactly what we are going to do with this last bit of the winter season. Lay down some ground work to set up for a successful comeback! It’s about balance, it’s about bringing something new to the table and it’s about putting the fire back into what you do everyday.
You got this.