Honest Wellbeing: Self-care doesn’t have to look the same for everyoneMaddie McKay
There has been an undeniable change in the workplace, which we cannot ignore. The virtual workspace is more crowded as people who did not work from home previously now are doing so, leading to a cluttered and slightly chaotic digital environment. With phrases like “weekends don’t exist during COVID-19″ being thrown around it’s clear to see that the landscape has shifted from what it was before with more rigid work-related boundaries. Clients and co-workers may be reaching out at odd hours to share files or ask to have an impromptu meeting. Many of us are now also dealing with having family home during the day as kids are home from school and spouses are either laid off or working from home as well, in many cases. Of course, the elephant in the room also looms over us in a way that it didn’t before; the fear of us or our loved ones losing our jobs or getting sick. As we all navigate these murky waters, remember you aren’t just dealing with the transition from office to home office but you’re also facing a worldwide pandemic, so cut yourself some slack.
To get personal perspectives on this situation, I have interviewed two of our amazing Talent Solutions Consultants, Patricia Perryman and Heather Petaccio who are resident WFH experts. We touch on wellbeing, self-care, working from home and working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember you aren’t working from home; you’re at home during a crisis trying to work – don’t be so hard on yourself.
How long you’ve been working from home and any interesting self-realizations you made?
The Trish View
Trish has been working remotely for about 5 years and expressed that she could never go back to working in an office. In addition to being a mom, it has been much more convenient and conducive to her busy lifestyle. Trish also remarked that as an introvert, it’s good for her energy levels to be working from home where she can have her own space to think and work, “people texting or emailing in requests is nice, as an introvert.” However, being at home with family during COVID-19 is a struggle that Trish and many of us out there can relate to. “The virtual workspace is more crowded as everything has gone digital, and the systems I’m used to using are becoming bogged down,” explained Trish. “My brain is fried at the end of the day” she noted, something she may not have been experiencing on a regular day. The overwhelming, online virtual world that was balanced before, now has become increasingly distressing as adjustments to the normal routine need to be made each day to keep up with the constant flow of new people entering the virtual work atmosphere.
Through Heather’s Eyes
Heather has been working remotely for about 10 years and has spent about 2 ½ of those years here with us at MHS. Did we mention she has a lot of experience? Heather is an extrovert, the opposite of Trish, but she prefers working from home because she finds that she can be more productive from home than in the office. However, the current circumstances have made it more difficult for her too. Juggling everything and everyone at home can be a struggle. With virtual overkill lurking around every corner, even casual events have been moved online which can make them more stressful than fun. People using the current situation as an excuse to pretend like work hours don’t exist and we can all be online 24/7 can also make it all too easy to ignore work-life balance that you would see when we used to work at the office.
What does wellbeing look like for you?
The Trish Breakdown
Wellbeing may look similar for some, but it doesn’t have to be the same for everybody. For Trish wellbeing is closely related to space. Her personal space is where her creative process can flourish – she can make art and get her work done. Taking the time to do peaceful and quiet things such as reading and writing poetry is a great way to calm the mind and relax for Trish. She likes to take the figurative and literal space to breath, relax and enjoy positive vibes. For Trish, feeling like her family is safe and cared for by putting music on and spending dinner together can make things feel a little more normal during these stressful times. Opening her windows or getting outside for some quiet and secluded nature walks also help her feel more at ease during these uncertain times. “My sacred space is in the morning when I can have quiet time with my spouse, so we enjoy an hour together without other people or distractions around,” which helps Trish to get her day going on the right foot!
Heather loves doing things to keep the mind and body active like working out or some sort of activity to keep her focused and center her energy throughout the day. “Without it, the day feels out of sync” she lamented while reminiscing about missing hanging out with her gym buddies at 4 am. “It’s harder to work out with the gyms being closed and the thought of home workouts was a struggle, but I’ve adjusted and taken to nature walks to help me feel good.” She noted that the movement helps her to feel well both mentally and physically, as does with cooking. “Cooking, coming up with recipes and testing them out helps me deal with stress, my kids always know it’s been a long day when there’s a full spread for dinner” commented Heather. She also likes to use creative outlets such as drawing to help express herself, much like Trish. Another similarity between these Trish and Heather, as well as for a lot of people out there, is knowing that their family is safe, happy and taken care of.
Issues trying to maintain wellbeing during COVD-19 and how you deal with them?
Transparency with Trish
As we all know, it can be hard to try and maintain our wellbeing, but you’re not alone! At MHS we value transparency and we’re going to be honest, and open about our struggles during this time! Trish noted that it’s hard to deal with the whole family being home 24/7 and trying to manage the many different personalities within her household. Between trying to make sure the kids are still getting their virtual schooling in, dealing with work connections at all hours of the day and making sure that everyone is looked after, Trish admits that it can be hard to fit in time for herself.
If you’re new to working from home, much like myself, fear not because Trish has some sound advice for us! She recommends shutting off and disconnecting from as many electronics as you can, especially work-related, on the weekends and at the end of the day. Setting boundaries is imperative to ensure that you aren’t already burning out before you’ve even begun. Let co-workers and clients know what your hours are and when not to reach out. Of course, flexibility is very important too, but try to avoid spreading yourself too thin. Flexible time and controlling your schedule are great upsides to working from home! If you find yourself feeling sluggish, Trish recommends switching up your tasks and keeping yourself working on things that interest you, 30 minutes here and 30 minutes there, next thing you know the workday is done!
The common issue with wellbeing is there are many people being in your space all the time, but Heather noted that an issue she was having was almost the opposite. “It’s hard to work out right now and the gym wasn’t just about exercise, I loved getting to spend time with our morning gym buddies,” remarked Heather. As an extrovert, Heather misses the face-to-face time she used to share with others, the time spent with friends getting exercise was a great energizer. A common theme she noticed pop-up was that chatting with people virtually just isn’t the same, going for a drink with the girls just isn’t the same as a Zoom Happy Hour meeting.
Heather has some great tips and tricks in store that might help some of us feel better during the current climate. She suggests not mixing work and home life. Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you should go and do the laundry at 2 in the afternoon – keep work hours and personal time separate. Make your workspace feel as close to a home office as you can. “Try not to sit around in jammies all day, I know it’s hard, but throwing on a clean shirt and some pants can do wonders for internal motivation. Having a structured schedule, taking all proper breaks and shutting it all down at the end of the night helps to keep things feeling more natural and less like time is one big blob.”
What aren’t we talking about in the wellbeing space?
The constant online formatting of everything is causing a lot of sitting around and a lot of video meetings with limited opportunities to get more physical movement during the day. Not only is work all online, but now most leisure or fun events are being shared through virtual portals. It would be nice to see tips for people to do meetings while they are active, such as taking meetings on the phone while going for a secluded nature walk. The fear of job loss is also something that is looming over many people’s heads right now. The workforce needs to feel supported and comforted that they won’t be losing their jobs during this time. Trish noted that whenever a call comes in from her boss now, she’s always a little nervous they may be bringing her bad news. Having constant anxiety beyond what all is already going on bogging up our brains can make it harder to focus on our wellbeing when our income that supports us and our families may be at stake.
As I’m sure many of us are, Heather is getting tired of reading the fluffy stuff – like “do yoga for an hour each day” – and wants to see more content that gets raw and real about wellbeing during a pandemic. Feel good about what is making you feel good – which may or may not be yoga – but for a lot of us, it’s even the simplest things like taking a shower or getting dressed that become big achievements. Heather says, “stop beating the hell out of yourself and pat yourself on the back for doing whatever it is that you need to do to cope and feel better – do what’s good for you.” Heather’s list of things we should be proud of includes putting on pants, showering, and not eating the contents of the fridge yesterday! It’s a nice idea to give everyone kudos for what little or what big thing they can do right now, whether it’s different from what you do or not it’s a simple gesture that can mean a lot. “You put pants on today – way to go!”
What do people need to know about how their personality type might influence how they rejuvenate/practice self-care?
It’s important to respect other people’s personality types and the space they need or space they don’t need to feel comfortable. Some people find their energy comes from fast-paced environments whilst others need some quiet time alone to rejuvenate. “Try to pay attention and be in tune with other people to make sure things stay smooth as can be” mentioned Trish.
Brain Dive with Heather
“No matter what your personality is, you may now have to take the time to be a person you aren’t, so self-care is super important for not losing your energy by the end of the day,” Heather remarked towards the end of the interview. It’s a good point, as many extroverted people may have to become more comfortable with spending time apart from others, whereas those who are introverted may need to get comfortable with having people in their space all the time, including constant face-to-face virtual meetings. As a result of this, people may be feeling increased levels of stress, so self-care and wellbeing practices are increasingly important to make you feel as much as yourself and as calm as you can.
How do I know what my personality type is?
Insights with Trish
You can kind of tell what type of personality you are by what you like to do and what gives you energy or makes you feel rejuvenated. “People who are sensors feel and reflect later, and thinkers try to logically get to a solution – they think to feel” noted Trish. Take the time now to self-reflect and think about your inner processes; it’s important to look at yourself on a deep level and explore that space with pause in the rush of most people’s daily lives. Trish’s advice is to sit alone and think to get into that space and explore, at least as an introvert that’s how she operates – it may be different for different people, however, so do what works the best for you.
Questions with Heather
Heather had a few questions to think about to help identify your personality type:
- How do they feel in a social setting/networking/large gathering?
- Prefer a group or being alone?
- Do they react or take time to think about situations? Relate to other people.
- Where do they feel like they get their energy from?
- Are you tired after being alone or tired after being with people?
- What helps you “re-charge” being alone or being in a group?
Based on your answers to questions like these you may be able to determine what your type is and discover new methods of wellbeing and self-care.
To practice self care, read this article from Positive Psychology on 10 worksheets and 12 ideas that help you build on your wellbeing and improve overall physical and mental health.
If you would like to take a more in-depth look into your personality type and learn about the FlexIndex to improve certain aspects of your personality you can check out the Pearman Personality Assessment at https://storefront.mhs.com/collections/pearman