This article is republished from my original What you're feeling?- that's probably normal post in LinkedIn.
As we in New Zealand are almost a week in to what is hopefully our first and only foray into level 3, I and others around me have noticed an upsurge in the amount of "well being" content appearing in their various channels. Before COVID-19 I saw some statistics that said one in four of us will experience a period of anxiety in our lives. I'd put money on that statistic being higher now.
I've been having lots of conversations with people about various things they're noticing. Like vivid dreams, being a bit shorter tempered, having disturbed sleep and feeling exhausted without doing much different to normal. As you'll see from the links I've posted against each of these, they're all perfectly normal given the situations we're in. Your brain is trying to process an extra-ordinary situation and is therefore throwing up some reactions we don't have in a "normal" situation.
On top of this and because of this, many people will also be experiencing changes in their mental health at this time, and for some, it will be their first time in experiencing those changes. If you're in this situation here's a few words from one who has experienced anxiety for a number of years.
It's OK to be not OK
It's OK to get upset. It's OK to feel overwhelmed. It's OK to feel however you feel. It's also OK to not understand what the heck you are feeling.
We're in unprecedented times in our living memory (we've had plague before but not at this scale while most of us have been alive). It's understandable it'll take some adjustment to figure out how we're going to get through this - but get through it we will, together. Have a look at this page from the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand for information and some tips on getting through. As a side note: if you are worried about your own or someone else's frame of mind at this time there's some information in the link to help with that too.
No-one can control this
The biggest barrier for me when I was diagnosed with anxiety was to accept that I couldn't control it. I still rail against that fact periodically even though I know it's futile. What I can do however is use tools and strategies to manage it. Have a look at my previous post on this topic for some tips on management.
Working from home?
I've heard a number of people talk about how we're not working from home, we're at home trying to work. For many of us, that means working in amongst the other members of our household, whether they be people or animals. This is definitely challenging, and one way to turn our thoughts from what's hard in this and many other situations is to reframe our thoughts in a more positive way, click here for an article on how. This takes time and effort, but in the long run will help you not just as we navigate through the uncertainty we're experiencing now, but also once we settle into what will become our normal over the months and years to come.
Routine, Routine, Routine, Routiiiiine (sung in my head to the tune of Jolene)
In all the reading I've been doing on this, one of the key things that filters through is that it is beneficial to create a routine and stick to it, as much as possible. Having separate work and living areas helps with this, and ensure you schedule time for something just for you each day, some exercise, and be explicit about you start and end of work times.
We’re all feeling these things – and we can help each other
The final thought I'd like to leave you with is to reach out if and when you need to, whether that’s a 10 minute call to do the online quiz, or have a virtual coffee, virtual drinks or another social activity. Challenge your family or workmates to do things, turn it into a competition and get that much needed social interaction. – If you do this, let me know what competition you're doing, as I'm always looking for new ideas!
Kirsten Eriksen is a Senior Consultant specialising in business analysis and Agile coaching, based in Equinox IT’s Wellington, New Zealand office.