Because of COVID-19, we are all trying our best to switch to remote work, cancel social gatherings, and avoid public places as much as we can. What are the new habits you need to build to adapt to these current social distancing activities?
Before you can answer that question, it's probably a good idea to step back and look at what's happening around us. What's actually changing? There are obvious, immediate challenges that remote work and possible self-isolation has brought into your life such as having to take care of kids while working (this is something I have learned from my colleagues; I don't have kids myself) and not seeing your friends and colleagues in person. But there are also new things affecting your life that you might not have yet recognized.
In this post, I'll discuss some of the less obvious changes.
Team sports and group workouts don't go well with social distancing, and if those are your main forms of exercise, you have already had to figure out alternatives to them. However, have you noticed the other subtle ways staying indoors has affected your overall physical activity?
Some of my colleagues have seen their daily steps count drop by thousands of steps simply because they don't do their commute and walk around the office anymore. I'm personally not only taking less steps each day when doing remote work but also not standing up as often as I'm used to. Before I had to get up and walk to a meeting room when a meeting was about to start. Now I just put on my headphones and click a Google Hangouts link. Convenient? Yes. Good for my well-being? I don't think so.
Because of the virus, we are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones. In addition, the possible economic effects of the outbreak are frightening: businesses are already closing down and people are losing their jobs or getting laid-off. It's difficult to stay positive. These are definitely not the good times.
And because of this, it's also a great time to remember to be grateful. Instead of focusing on things that are taken away from us, we can pay more attention to the important people and things we still have in our lives. One way of turning gratitude into a daily practice is journaling or prayer.
You can read more about the research done about the positive effects of gratitude here.
You are probably interacting less with your colleagues and friends and more with your partner. While having more time for each other is something that's generally considered a positive thing in relationships, suddenly spending more time together can easily introduce new tension and challenges.
Compare this to Japan's "retired husband syndrome": when couples that were used to spending long hours apart due to work started spending more time together after retirement, they started to resent each other instead of appreciating their new-found quality time.
It's probably a good idea for me to make it clear here that I'm not trying to compare your relationship to one of a dysfunctional retired couple. However, suddenly having more face time with your partner might not be such a blessing if your current way of interacting with each other doesn't also adapt itself to the situation at hand.
What else has changed in your environment? What are the habits that you need to build to tackle the new challenges and prepare yourself for the upcoming months of social distancing? Remember that things like remote work are now your daily practice and not something you do every now and then – and that the best way out is through.