Whether you’re working from home or heading back to the office, COVID-19 has likely changed the way you work.
And we know that this September is one to remember forget, with stress levels reaching their highest point since the pandemic ‘popped’ in March here in North America, in large part due to many companies returning to the office and kids returning to school. Another source of stress is the looming second wave of the virus, which is becoming more of a reality every day.
So, what are some ways to handle this stress? It’s first important to recognize what stress looks like in ourselves, and then take steps to build our resilience and manage it. One of the greatest stress combatants is building resilience, as it’s a proven way to minimize stress and improve our ability to deal with adversity.
Understanding Your Stress Symptoms
When you’re experiencing stress it’s common to be more irritable, angry, or even in denial. It’s also normal to feel unconfident, handling ourselves with less conviction and behaving in a heightened nervous state. It can cause us to lack motivation, feel fatigued, overwhelmed, or even burned out, and result in sleeping difficulty.
Really nasty stuff that, at some point, we’ve all gone through in some shape or form.
What Are Work-Related Factors That Add to Stress in a Pandemic?
- Concerns about being exposed to the virus at work
- Growing list of personal concerns and family needs while working
- Managing a larger workload
- Uncertainty about your job
- Learning new communication tools and technical difficulties
- Adapting to a new workspace and/or schedule
Things You Can Do to Build Resilience and Manage Job Stress
Communicate What is Going on
If there is one positive thing that’s come from this pandemic is that when we’re in meetings in person or over Zoom, we are all asking each other how we are doing! Most of the time it’s 10 minutes to just check in and share stories, and this is a healthy and refreshing thing. If you have something going on, tell your coworkers, employees, or supervisors about it. Socialize your experience and work together with your peers to find a solution. Because ALL of us are going through something.
This can mean identifying stressors and socializing some potential solutions.
Control Your Controllables
It doesn’t do you any good to focus your energy on things out of your control. Double down on what it is you can control – your thoughts, your feelings, your emotions – rather than the external environment or other people’s opinions.
The best way to manage your thoughts, feelings, and emotions is ensuring:
- You get a consistent night’s sleep, waking up at the same time every day
- You eat for energy. Make sure you have a colorful plate, and always remember to have breakfast
- You move! Even if gyms are closed, take time daily to either get outside or get a basement workout in. Do your best to get 20 minutes of activity, at minimum, daily
Ask How to Access Mental Health Resources
Your company likely has an EAP or EFAP that can help if you’re in distress, or if you’re looking for resources for more proactive maintenance, there are likely resilience programs that your employer can direct you to as well.
The important thing to remember when working on our resilience is, like anything, it takes practice and repetition to help train ourselves when habits start to slip as adversity arises. Recognizing our internal behaviors is critical so that we can minimize our time spinning out of control, and back to a healthy, productive state.