If anyone had told me, three months into the year I would be working at home, locked in my studio apartment in downtown Johannesburg for 21 days I would have laughed in their face.
And had they added that a novel virus would be terrorising the whole world and that South Africa would go into lockdown, I would have thought they were mad. Residents asked to self-isolate and practise social distancing? It only happens in the movies!
As the coronavirus pandemic creates mayhem in South Africa, our lives are turned upside down, which poses a risk to our mental wellbeing. A host of emotions plague us and for some, this may lead to loneliness or feelings of isolation and disconnectedness from our community. We need to find ways to remind ourselves that we are all in this together.
There are people who have been working at home offices for years, but there is a level of freedom because it is not under lockdown restrictions. For some, the home has suddenly become a new office and not by choice.
Here are some ways to avoid the feelings of loneliness and isolation in these adapted conditions.
Create a routine
Most seasoned home office workers insist that you create a routine, as boring as it may sound. Following the routine you have when going to the office under normal circumstances is a start. The point is to get into office mode – shower, get dressed, have breakfast and start work (not in your bedroom in your PJs). At the end of work, prepare a to-do list for the following day so it is easy to get back into the routine.
Create a social community
Whether you like or hate the water cooler chats at the office, they do play an important role in communing with colleagues. So, when stuck at home, create a social community of like-minded people that you can have a conversation with. Discuss what’s happening outside your homes, share fears and comfort each other. Make use of social apps available. This helps with feeling connected and realising there is support – you are not alone when working at home.
Schedule virtual calls
Check up on your loved ones, friends and family that are not with you. My friend in Santa Fe, who I enjoy playing cards with when I see her, found the game we like playing in the app store and sent me the link, which I have downloaded. We are now going to schedule a time and we will have a game of cards. Yes, during lunch break or as an after-work activity.
With new technologies constantly coming up in most work operations, research the latest innovations or trends in your field of work. Take online tutorials, listen to podcasts, read trade publications or catch up with all the reading or tasks you have put off. There is so much time that is cut out from having to travel to work that you can easily learn a new skill. Who knows what changes we will find when we go back to the office – be prepared.
Spend time in nature
To avoid being indoors the whole day, choose to spend mid-morning working outside and catch some vital vitamin D – it could be on the balcony, veranda or somewhere in the garden. The change of scenery stimulates creativity, lifts our spirit, and gives us a new perspective on stuff. We do need varying perspectives in this time.
Sometimes what may seem a time of hardship really depends on how we respond. We may not be able to move as freely as we wish, however, the time calls for us to sacrifice our normal habits and be reminded of our communal values.
Need some more inspiration? Read this: