By Christina Lavigne, Clinician, The PATH School Based Clinical Services
The coronavirus pandemic has been a stressful time for so many people around the world. Not only are we concerned about the health/safety of our family and friends, but our way of living has been dramatically changed with stay-at-home orders.
Working from home is a privilege not everyone is fortunate to have, but it does bring its own set of challenges. Couples, families, and roommates used to be out of the house for 8+ hours a day and then would be home together in the evening – enjoying family time, relaxing, and recharging for the next work day. Home, the place that was once reserved as a neutral space, has turned into an office, virtual learning center, and a conference room.
When working from home, setting boundaries is imperative to our mental (and physical) well-being. I personally struggled to set boundaries at the beginning of quarantine because it was easy to always stay connected. I could never actually leave "the office"...because the office was my home.
Here are four actions that have helped me set boundaries during this time:
1. Designate one area as a specific work space/school zone.
Decide on an area you want to keep as a work space (second bedroom, office, etc) that is not currently being used as a common relax/rest space; this way your work and rest areas are literally separate and it will be easier to disconnect. This will also be helpful if there are multiple people in a home...everyone will have their own little space to be as productive as possible.
2. Snooze notifications.
Turn off work email and work text notifications after your set work hours so you are not tempted to keep working later. If this is hard for you, have a family member or friend help hold you accountable.
3. Take care of your body.
My colleagues and I have felt the effects of being glued to a screen all day. We are experiencing real physical discomfort such as eye strain, headaches, neck aches, and back pain from hours of sitting in front of a computer.
- Try getting up to walk around every 15 to 30 minutes to stretch your legs.
- Attempt to get at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
- Look away from the computer screen throughout the day to let your eyes relax. I highly recommend investing in a pair of blue-light blocking glasses to use for all screens. These glasses have been instrumental in decreasing frequent screen time headaches.
4. Enjoy an actual lunch break.
When you're in the office, days can get hectic and lunch breaks can get pushed to the side for the sake of productivity. Take this time to slow down and enjoy lunch with whoever you are quarantining with!