Of all the disturbing impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the financial-services industry, one of the most distressing has been the requirement for social distancing and the need to work from home. For many of us, our office is a haven of comfort and creativity. Unlike our home, we can control the flow of people in and out of our office, which in some cases is a custom-designed space that expresses our professionalism and supports our ability to take care of our families.
Being cut off from the familiarity and structure of our office and getting relegated to a space in our home have shattered our normal work routines and replaced them with a complicated and distracting environment. Now our patterns overlap with those of our spouse and our children. We can literally bump into them throughout the day. Where before there was an orderly boundary between work and family life, now the two are forced to blend, sometimes uncomfortably. While some of us have the good fortune to have a dedicated workspace in our home, others live in more cramped quarters and are forced to take over a table or even share space with a spouse and/or school-age children.
To help you through the challenging time, consider these four ways you can improve your adaptability and take advantage of the opportunities that are embedded in the crisis.
#1: Be More Mindful About Managing Your Body
The COVID-19 crisis is a multifaceted challenge, not only putting each person at some health risk but also stressing the entire healthcare system, the global financial markets and the world’s economy. This means that a huge amount of disturbing information will be channeled into your brain, activating stress hormones and the natural fight-or-flight instinct. There are several steps you can take to look after your body and achieve greater resilience in your health and general wellness:
- Get up and move at least three or four times a day; once an hour would be ideal. At least once a day, move energetically for a minimum of 20 minutes. A good goal is to take at least 5,000 steps a day.
- Be thoughtful about your diet. Increase your lean proteins and greens; reduce your carbohydrates. Be mindful about extra sugar, alcohol or anything considered a treat.
- Think about your breathing. Stress increases your heart rate and causes your breathing to become faster and shallower. Stimulate clearer thinking and activate the calming forces in your body by taking five to 10 minutes several times a day to close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. This is a wonderful time to learn how to meditate. There are several good apps available to help you.
- Protect your sleep patterns. When the structure of your life has been interrupted, your brain can become highly activated and vigilant. This can make it harder to relax and fall asleep. Sleep experts agree that you should maintain a standard period every night for sleeping (go to bed and get up at the same times each day) and that you should get at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night. It helps to keep your room as dark as possible and eliminate screens and other sounds (turn off music and the television), although some people find white noise to be useful.
- If you find your brain churning through information and trying desperately to figure something out, write down the thoughts your brain is processing. Then tell yourself, “We will work on these things tomorrow.” For many people, creating a list allows the brain to release the thoughts with confidence that they’ll be revisited in the morning.