5 tips for keeping sane while working at home during this pandemic

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THE COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has up-ended schedules of work, sleep, meals, and everything else you thought was normal.

To help us cope with the changes, we attended a webinar by mental health service Flourish Circle called “Flourishing in the Digital Workspace Amid the Pandemic.”

Christopher Lagman, a life and executive coach from the Hudson Institute of Sta. Barbara and HR head of a market research and business intelligence company, gave the talk. Addressing those who were watching and presumably working from home, he said, “Some of us have been quite fortunate.” The talk breaks down the tools for succeeding at work and keeping yourself mentally fit into five tips.

Mr. Lagman started by addressing employers: “I would like to talk to your leaders right now and say, ‘Manage your expectations.’ This is not the time to expect [a lot from] your employees, even if you have provided them with the resources they need to work from home. We cannot expect everyone to be at their usual 100%. Simply put, this is not the usual time. Everyone is really struggling.”

Addressing employees, he said, “Let me also say that I hope this does not become an excuse for us to throw all cares to the wind. It’s not really healthy for us just to blame COVID-19 for everything. We still want to thrive and flourish.”

“We still want to do great things,” he said. “The center of it all is well-being.”

1.) Be Active. “Even just moving, it can produce the healthy hormones in our body to improve our mind,” he said. Short walks, stretching, standing up, and simple yoga exercises are things one can do, he said. He also says that being active isn’t limited to physical motion. “Engage in calls, make your presence felt,” he said. “Being active means speaking up. I would recommend that you speak up [at conference calls] at least once or twice.”

2.) Take Notice. “Taking notice means listening,” he said. “As much as I recommend you to speak up, you also [must], in equal measure, listen.” He said to take notice when someone speaks up in a call. “Acknowledge and build up on their ideas. Appreciate the contribution of people.” The good feeling this generates flows down to yourself and the team, according to Mr. Lagman. “To be heard and to be listened to; to be acknowledged, is something nice. When you know that you have made somebody feel validated… it makes you feel good as well. You energize them, and you also get energized.” He also says that “taking notice” means having an attitude of gratitude: taking notice, for example, of the small mercies granted one during a pandemic.

3.) Connect. “We are wired as human beings to connect with other people,” said Mr. Lagman. However, social distancing measures, quarantines, and curfews, prevent us from doing so at this time. “That doesn’t mean we should be socially disconnected. We still should be emotionally connected with other people.” He tells us to check up on people, make small talk, and ask how people are — “In a sincere and genuine way,” he emphasized. He also says that this is a time to join a community. In the absence of one, make one. He gave his own situation as an example: joining a Facebook group in his condominium enabled him to not only expand his circle, but also made doing chores such as the grocery shopping easier, thanks to online marketplaces.

4.) Keep Learning. While he acknowledges that some people are just trying to survive, he addressed the more fortunate when he said, “We have resources; we have time. Use it well.” Of course, joining classes and webinars and reading books were brought up, but also says that meditation and knowing oneself can also be a goal. “Have a goal, carve out time for it.”

5.) Give. “Giving means being generous. Giving one’s self means creating value for others; creating positive outcomes for others, and actively exploring the ways of doing this,” he said. One can donate to charity, of course, or maybe even send care packages. He does say there are other things one can donate — “It could be time; it can be positive words. It can be just your listening presence.” — Joseph L. Garcia