While working with patients this week managing technology, paperwork and sessions, I have noticed quite a few times that I have gotten more irritable with the process.  I forget that doing something new takes practice; and while I feel like I may be moderately tech savvy, I need to remind myself to be more accepting.  I’ve noticed this and discussed this with patients too.  They are becoming frustrated with having to stay inside, change their work habits and manage things through technology they typically found second nature in person.

I reflect on the skills I often teach my patients including: taking breaks, breathing, visual imagery and bilateral activities such as walking, running, using tapping, etc.  I feel like this time we need something more.  This is such a deviation from anything we have been through before, it needs its own skill.  We can often allow something to occur that is uncomfortable if we have a time frame.  This one is such an unknown.

I have found that encouraging individuals to find their new schedule and rhythm most helpful.  This includes waking and going to bed at similar times each day.  Carving out meal times and breaks, just like we do while in the office.  It can also mean setting boundaries with work and recognizing that if we were in the office, we would likely be actively productive about ½ of the time we are there.

Take a typical 9-hour work day (8-5pm).

We are likely to:

Take a couple of 15-minute breaks   = 30 minutes

Take an hour lunch – 60 minutes

Chat with a co-worker or two = 30 minutes

Take several bathroom or snack runs = 30 minutes

Encounter something that interrupts our expected workflow = 60 minutes

This equals nearly half of our work day.  When we are not around others and feeling visually accountable, we can fear that our workload is being closely monitored and the need to be more productive.  While this may appear admirable, it will lead to burnout very quickly.  Businesses know we are not always “on”. They build this into expectations and allow for the social nature of our humanness with the expected outcome to be success and happiness with our work.

Suggestions are to take some scheduled time during the day to be “in life”. We are social creatures and need others.  This is a bit more difficult to maneuver during this pandemic time, but not impossible.

  • Take a 30-minute walk outside during your work day. You need to sunshine. You need to see the world remains vibrant and spring is approaching. Feeling connected to the world grounds us and allows our fears to be kept at bay.
  • Face time or video chat with a co worker or friend. Texting is quick but we need that visual to maintain our connection with others.  Think about how much you see while at work and how much not having this disconnects you.
  • Mark the start and end of your day. Leave what you can…believe me it will be there tomorrow. If you feel pressure to complete a task, plan for it.  Set up your day so you are able to prioritize tasks and let those less demanding tasks move to a different day.
  • Take care of your body. We often walk around at our offices to get our bodies moving.  When we are at home, we often sit in the same space and forget that we need to stretch our legs.  Our posture while looking at a computer screen is not the healthiest and can lead to headaches and neck/back pain.  Simple stretches can help you maintain your physical health.  https://www.readers.com/blog/9-desk-stretches-for-office/

Finally, be kind.  We are all experiencing this.  No one is excluded.  We often focus on a time when someone was rude or mean to us. Let’s focus on choosing to be nice and let someone reflect on this….and pass it on.

Stephanie Phillips, LCMHCS, NCC, CCTP

Psychotherapist & Owner of The Mindly Group, PLLC