De 7 verrassende lessen die je leert in een pandemische zelfquarantainmaart 15, 2020
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You’ve got the hand-washing advice down. Now, how do you handle the hand-wringing issues—anxiety, depression and loneliness. I asked the experts I speak with regularly for their advice on managing panic, fear, anxiety and what may be the toughest for some—self-quarantine. Here are their suggestions:
1. Eliminating Anxiety? Not Realistic
The top stressors in adults during average times are the death of a close family member and job stress, followed by money issues and caregiving, according to research from a 2018 AAPD report. A pandemic puts those everyday stressors on steroids. It’s no wonder you are feeling anxious. While you can set a goal of trying to feel more relaxed, the anxiety is here to stay for more than a few weeks.
2. Remote Work, Epidemic Loneliness
On an average day, nearly 30% of adults age 18 – 49 are likely to experience loneliness compared to the 17% of people age 50 and older, according to the same research. Don’t underestimate the amount of loneliness that can happen due to a dramatic change in work style. Remote working for those who haven’t done it before can feel really remote.
Seeing the end in sight may do some good. Researchers are carefully tracking the spread. The goal of managing a pandemic is not only to keep people safe but to consistently lower the spread of the virus in communities. You can see how that looks in this chart online prepared by a health policy professor and consultant at Jefferson University.
3. What Other People (Really) Do
No judgement. It’s a pandemic. But just in case you were wondering what your adult co-workers might be doing but don’t want to ask? Research from the AAPD shows during times of crisis, high up on the top ten list of coping methods is playing two or more hours of video games, surfing the internet and watching more than two hours of TV at a time. Some choose exercise and sports. Few people are singing, according to the research, which showed that at #10.
4. Managing Negative Feelings
Most of us could use a refresher course in what therapists call realistic thinking. That’s the thinking that happens when you can dismiss overblown dramatic thoughts and put a positive but realistic spin on them. You may have heard therapists refer to this as challenging negative thinking. I find this impossible to do without some sort of rubric. Try this one created by Anxiety Canada, which includes 13 questions. Personally that last one is my least favorite. That’s the one where they suggest asking yourself, “Is this a hassle or a horror?”
5. Digital Shock Waves
Some people who, up until this point, have successfully avoided leveling up their digital skills will find themselves experiencing frustration. There’s a learning curve to working remotely. If you’ve never done it before or at least not en masse, be prepared for a segment of your office to be confused, cranky and critical of all things digital. Help them get over it. Be kind. Be generous. The idea of self-quarantine isn’t to win, but to get out alive and reasonably healthy.
6. Better Self-Bossing
Being the boss of yourself can be shockingly difficult for people who have stuck to a routine for years. My best advice, as someone with anxiety and ADHD, is to recognize how tough you can be on yourself. Sometimes, I admit, I do say things like, Ugh, my boss is such a **b&%^* only to realize, right, I’m the boss. Talking to other ‘bosses’ i.e. your coworkers is a good form of self-supervision and therapy. Make the topics as innocuous as possible—what are they watching on Netflix, how are they keeping kids busy or whether they listen to music while they work are all safe questions that will help you stay “in touch”.
7. Insisting on clear communication. Many offices will put together a pandemic taskforce or committee. It should ideally include security, HR, legal and IT as well as managers who can communicate what’s happening with their remote employees.
Some legal experts suggest that if you are a supervisor, do not question employees on suspected illness but instead, refer them to the point person or CO-VID committee created at your workplace. That doesn’t mean you can’t speak with your supervisor about feeling stressed, lonely or unclear of your next task. That person should also be able to refer you to local leaders and websites that offer definitive information on the pandemic.
For me, the most anxiety-provoking element is trying to answer questions for which no one may have a reliable answer. Some days recently have felt like a mix of mansplaining meets M.A.S.H. (without the laugh track). If you have reliable answers to the following questions, feel free to send them to me on Twitter:
· Can dogs get sick with the virus? What if they come to the office or commute with you?
· Should I not use the office fridge? What about the coffee maker?
· I signed for 10 packages today at work with the UPS delivery truck pen—and never washed my hands. Now what?
Stay kind. Be well. Stay home if it’s humanly possible.