In the last few weeks, the world has seen many changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic – countries worldwide have implemented public health interventions including social distancing, self-isolations, lockdowns and mass quarantines, to name a few.
Companies across industries are rolling out mandatory remote work policies and millions of people the world over are starting to feel the weight of being jolted out of their daily routines.
The new normal: Working from home
For many of us, the new normal entails shifting our workspaces from our offices to our homes. For working parents, there is that added element of having their children present at home due to school closures and balancing work and taking care of their little ones.
This major transition in our lives is not easy. The abrupt change in our working environment can take a toll on our psyche. Why? As working adults, we spend much of our day in skyscrapers, working the 9 to 5, and coming back home at night to unwind and connect with our families.
Until recently, our homes served only as our sanctuaries; our havens of peace and relaxation. For that very reason, they do not lend themselves to work productivity as naturally as our office spaces. Hence, the change in setting and routine jostles us and the ample distractions make staying on task difficult. Beyond that, as we spend more of our day indoors, staying active is not as easy as it used to be. More time indoors means more time cooped up with our mobile devices.
Unless we dedicate some time to treating our bodies and minds right, these challenges can get the better of us. Expect to experience work blues, and eye strains and back pains, all of which have the power to take a huge bite out of our work efficiency and overall health in the long run! So, what can we do?
The Schwarzenegger way
If you’ve been on Twitter recently, you may have seen Arnold Schwarzenegger’s incredible COVID-19 PSA (with a cameo from his mini horse and donkey no less). The 72-year-old gave useful tips to his 4.4 million followers on practicing social distancing and advised everyone to adhere to government health guidelines and recommendations.
He even took to Reddit to talk about a home workout plan that he will be releasing soon to help everyone in self-isolation maintain a healthy lifestyle while being “responsible during the pandemic.”
In these uncertain times, Schwarzenegger’s positive disposition is a refreshing, much-needed reminder that no matter how dire the situation is, a good attitude has the ability to keep our spirits up and will help us get us through it.
Proactivity is key
Like Schwarzenegger, we need to dedicate some time to figuring out how we can assimilate our bodies and minds to our new environment and to treat them right.
Some tips to get you started:
1.Create a home workstation that is ergonomically optimised. That includes: i)reducing overhead lighting and using anti-glare screens to reduce screen glare, ii)a screen location of 15 – 20 degrees below eye level and iii)adequate face-to-screen distance when using devices i.e. at least 60cm between the face and computer screens and 30cm when using smart devices.
2. Take regular breaks in between periods of screen exposure. The American Optometric Association recommends taking a 15-minute break after 2 hours of device use.
3. Get moving. Dedicate a space in your home to getting a regular workout session in.
4. Keep your workstation clean. Our digital devices have been found to host plenty of germs. In fact, computer keyboards have been found to be germier than toilet seats, so sanitization is crucial!
5. Don’t let anxiety get the better of you. Everywhere we turn, we are bombarded with news updates on the pandemic. COVID-19 has also formed the basis of the majority of our conversations with our friends and family. We need to constantly remind ourselves and our loved ones to remain calm and stay positive while being vigilant and responsible.
COVID-19 knows no geographical or social boundaries. It is so important to show empathy, kindness and concern for all those around you. A positive and hopeful mindset is a powerful thing; it strengthens our resolve as a society to weather this storm. Let us also not forget those affected by and who have lost loved ones to the virus. Support your local healthcare professionals, scientists, support groups and government bodies working around the clock to ameliorate the situation.
As the pandemic moves to the next phase, from containment of the disease to mitigating its consequences, we will need to tackle it with renewed vigour, as one people. We will need to move forward collectively, with unity of purpose to abide by national and international health guidelines and recommendations.
If there is one thing we know about mankind, it is that we never give up; we always rise to the challenge, no matter how daunting it seems. This time, it will be no different.
We will be back.