By Anastasia Allmon

Manage Expectations, Be Kind to Yourself.
People are now working where they live and living where they work. Some intend to return to the office once the pandemic is over, but many may remain remote. Everyone who typically goes into an office every morning has to figure out and adapt to working from home, one day at a time. Each new home “office” most likely presents its own challenges—whether it’s small children, pets, loud neighbors, etc. It’s probably safe to say everybody is doing the work-from-home thing a little differently—while simultaneously trying to manage twenty other things that demand immediate attention. The volume of emails, messages and Zoom calls has reached a whole new level during the pandemic. Perhaps there is now an assumption that everyone is (or should be) in front of a computer at all times, especially those working remotely—and as such, it seems like everyone who needs something needs it immediately, and every email requires (and expects) an instant response.

With all the social restrictions during this pandemic, it is easy to get buried in work and forget to break away from the screen now and then—endless emails and notifications can become overwhelming and make it hard to take a break. However, in this strange new and inherently stressful reality, maintaining at least some normalcy helps lower the stress. It’s okay to take breaks, go for a walk, take thirty minutes to exercise. It’s important to manage others’ expectations of what working from home should look like— the emails, messages and the ever-growing to-do list will still (and always) be there, but getting rid of the stress in trying to keep up and speed up will undoubtedly play a huge role in lowering the overall level of stress during this already difficult time.

Try Something New.
The pandemic changed the way people work, but it has also affected people’s ways of relieving stress. Social distancing requirements and other health and safety concerns have prevented many from engaging in hobbies and other activities, which were previously a part of daily life and provided opportunities to relieve stress. It is not surprising that stress levels are on the rise, especially in the sudden sharp decrease in social interaction and physical contact. Therefore, now is the perfect time to try doing something new—take advantage of the outdoors, go on a bike ride, find a hiking trail, learn to play tennis or golf, pick up gardening, or learn how to cook or play an instrument. Finding new or creative stress outlets and doing something enjoyable while still observing social distancing will undoubtedly bring back a sense of normalcy and help lower overall stress levels.

Be Intentional About Staying Connected. Despite all the technology that made it possible and easy for people to stay connected while remaining physically apart, it is somehow equally as easy to lose touch with others and become disconnected from loved ones. In managing all the stressors brought about by this pandemic, it is often difficult to carve out time to call or Facetime a friend or family member to check-in, and it is also easy to get distracted and forget to do so.

However, it seems that the longer people allow themselves to disconnect from each other, the easier it becomes to continue down that path. As that distance grows, it can quickly develop into feelings of loneliness, isolation and additional stress and anxiety. Therefore, during this time of having to be physically distant from others, it is important to be intentional about maintaining relationships and social connections with friends and family. Setting a goal to put in the effort to call, text or Facetime loved ones will ensure that no relationships are lost and will keep away the stress that comes with feeling disconnected or alone, especially during this uncertain and challenging time.