In part one of our “quarantine” series, TeamUP Co-Captain Becky Piper shared her tips for finding ways to stay active and exercising while undergoing social distancing and self-quarantine. In this edition, she’ll walk us through the ways she’s keeping up her mental health, too. 

Working From Home

I’m very fortunate to work from home on a regular basis and am grateful I didn’t need to change my work schedule when social distancing became necessary. I did have to make a few adjustments because my husband, who is a full time student as well as a research assistant that builds hardware for the International Space Station, suddenly needed to transfer all his work home.

The biggest change I made was changing my workstation from our desk to the dining room table. That brings me to my first tip about working from home: finding an efficient place where you can do your work from. I can be easily distracted if I’m working amongst a lot of clutter. Since my husband now needs his desk and I can relocate, I have currently moved to the dining room table. To make this space more efficient, I needed to create a specific space for my laptop, my coffee mug, my work phone, and my charging cords. If all these stay organized and in their proper place, I can be a more effective worker.

If you have children at home, I recently heard of a great example of creating an efficient workspace with children. A friend of mine recently posted a picture of question cards she made for her two boys that they could take into her workspace and “ask” her by showing her the question. She has response “yes” and “no” cards to easily answer while she’s working to avoid interruption but not ignore her young ones.

Here are a few other tips for working from home:

  • To keep track of the hours I work, I use a timesheet app called “TimeClockConnect” that I downloaded online. The app I use has fields to list the client, the project and any notes you have (see image below).
  • I stay connected to my colleagues through phone, Skype, email, etc.
  • It’s recommended that you take a short 5-minute break at least twice a day to keep your focus sharp. I personally stand and do 10 air squats if my AFO is off (and 10 mini squats if it’s on) and get another cup of coffee or water every hour.
  • I have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that I play “elevator music” through when my husband is in an online class or work meeting or is building something for work. By focusing this one sense on the non-descript noise, I can center my mind on my work instead of his.
  • I have specific, scheduled mealtimes with ready-to-eat meals in order to keep my mind focused. But others may find it easier to take specific lunch breaks. Either way, I like to set an alarm for my meals to prevent snacking. I also allow myself one small unhealthy snack at the end of my workday—treat yourself!
  • It’s hard to not be in the same room as my team since we are in different states, but we manage to stay in contact through our various technological means listed above. Since email is our primary method of communication—which can often lead to misunderstandings or confusion—I am sure to write exactly what I think in plain terms, so I don’t add extra tension into the mix.
  • I find that proper schedule-keeping is really important to keep working efficiently during stressful times. For example, I have chronic mental fatigue that strikes at 3PM daily, which always gets worse in times of stress. Because I know this about myself, I make sure to finish with my full 8-hour day before the clock strikes 3. Keeping that schedule involves waking up early to get my full 8-hour day and a workout in for the day in on time.

Staying Fit, Mentally

Loneliness and isolation can be a real issue at times like this. It can be especially tough for people already dealing with depression and/or anxiety disorder. These are some of the steps I’ve been taking make sure my mental health takes priority.

  1. Breathing Exercises: I have an arsenal of breathing techniques that I can use when I feel stressed and I’ve been using them a lot lately. I particularly like this one: Inhale for 5 seconds, hold breath in for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds.
  2. Make a paper chain: I am making myself a paper chain. Each day of self-quarantine, I add a new link to the chain, but I write a good thing that happened that day as well. At the end of this, I’ll take it down and be able to read all the good things that happened during this time.
  3. Take a cry break: Sometimes the stress piles up and I just have to let it out—I call it “stress leaking from my eyeballs.” I don’t get mad at myself; I just let it out and cry. However, when I’m done crying, I carry on.
  4. Take a mental health break: Take a hike, watch tv, read a book, play games, connect with family and friends online or from a safe distance, relax, etc.

How are you keeping up your mental health during this moment? Send us your story below and might feature it on our social media pages!

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