The Coronavirus Is Changing The Way We Work, But It Does Not Have To Control How We Feel.
We are living in a time where we have an opportunity to re-define the human experience. The way in which we use language to define the contours of how we experience what we are experiencing has repercussions that will last much longer than what it is that we are experiencing right now.
A few months ago, a large number of the population would get up, drink coffee, get in their cars, and make their way to work. They will work their 6 to 8-hour shift and then slowly drive their way through traffic to get back home, to go to bed, and to get up and do it again. A perpetual Groundhog Day that we have normalized as a culture.
Now, we are living in a time in the middle of a viral pandemic that is not just changing the way in which we relate to one another physically but is also altering the landscape of how we relate to work and being employed.
We now have the dissolution of our many-splintered identities. We no longer are an employee who goes to work, and then begins to wear the hat of a parent.
With our current social circumstances the way they are, we have parents and employees whose rules are now conflated. This fact alone has been a large contributor to a massive rise in what is now becoming a mental health crisis. Statistics now say that almost 50% of Americans are saying that they are experiencing some form of anxiety or depression due to these new living conditions.
This is indicative of a culture where we have learned to accept that all of our roles need to be categorized in their neat little boxes. However, that has never been the case for our brain. Compartmentalization is and has always been a myth. We have never really been able to shut off the roles that we all partake in. Neuroscience says that the way in which we identify ourselves is more of a composite of different versions of ourselves. The temptation is to take this new territory that we have all been thrown into, and self isolate. However, isolation over time has been shown to increase learned helplessness. This could also be another reason why many are having the experience of heightened anxiety.
It is important that we create an environment that supports our long-term mental health and success. This investment is not just for ourselves, our employers, but also for those around us. In fact, taking care of your own mental health is an act of compassion and empathy for others. How so? Because when you have energy, you have the energy to help others. That is so important to realize.
Here are four proven and behavioral science-backed nudges for those parents who are now working from home, getting used to remote working, and are trying to get by. (It is important to note, that creating behavioral frameworks or nudges for your own success, is to realize that you have a choice.)
- HOW YOU TALK ABOUT REALITY MATTERS.
How you language your reality; what you say about it has long-term effects on your own success, but it also on your mental health. If you continuously use words like “quarantine“, “lockdown“, “locked inside“, and other metaphors for feeling like you’re in prison, your brain will go to great links to prove that you were right. In fact, MRIs have been done to show that when we make claims about ourselves, it activates the reticular activating system, which is essentially a heat-seeking probe inside of our brain that goes out and looks for things in our environment that proves what we’re saying is true. It’s ultimately, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Be an architect, not a victim. Begin talking about your experiences in positive terms. Perspective is power.
2. CREATE BOUNDARIES.
Right now, it might seem impossible to create boundaries between your work and you as a parent. There is some truth to that statement. However, you can take control by seeing your new dynamic as a way to create a model of teamwork between you and the rest of your family.
Use whatever you have at your disposal, to create an office of some kind – that will give you the sense of entering into your workday, and exiting it. Then make incentivized agreements with your children that they will continue to do what they need to do while you are fulfilling your tasks as an employee.
If applicable, gamify their behavior based on how long they are able to focus on their given responsibilities, or, if they are able to complete any requests or chores. Make it enjoyable.
This is how you can succeed if you use this particular technique. Chunking is the strategy whereby you take huge tasks, and you create incremental steps. Create micro-goals, you incentivize those micro-goals, which will eventually lead to the overall goal. If you have a supportive employer, tuck this out with them. Purchase sticky notes, color-code them and make every task that you have digestible.
4. MENTAL HEALTH BREAKS.
The temptation will be to keep going, especially when you’re at home, either to avoid parenting or because it is hard to make that separation between being at home and working. Mental health is crucial to who we are as a species, Azfar extends the labels that we used to define ourselves at work. Your employee should make this their first priority. If you do not have an employer and make every task that you have digestible.
Mental health breaks.
The temptation will be to keep going, especially when you’re at home, either to avoid parenting or because it is hard to make that separation between being at home and working. Mental health is crucial to who we are as a species, Azfar extends the labels that we used to define ourselves at work. Your employee should make this their first priority.
These are a few notches to get you started. The reality here is that you have a new opportunity before you to re-define who you are, what you’re capable of, and to be able to have the freedom to be home with those that you love. The way you frame this new environment that we’re all getting used to will have long-term ramifications for your own personal, mental, emotional, and psychological success.
Empowering your self during times of uncertainty is the greatest gift that you can give yourself and others.