I think many of us have been returning to work in a physical building now that it is September. Schools are open, more stores are open, as are malls and restaurants are also serving guests indoors instead of only on patios. I know my friend who works in a library hospital is returning to work as well now. And coping with the change is hard! I just recently returned to work myself, and it is hard!
I have to get up early again, instead of whenever I feel like it…I have to pack a lunch…and wear real work clothes, not jeans and a tee. My hair has to look presentable when I have not had it cut in months. And on top of all of this, there are all these new Covid protocols. Like wearing masks. I hate wearing masks, they are hot, they itch, they smell, and I have to talk a lot as a teacher and I end up panting in a few minutes when I am wearing one and trying to teach. On top of that, I have to have students wash their hands multiple times a day, and we have to clean materials and I am always worried about keeping the kids physically distanced. Telling four year olds to keep their distance is telling dogs not to eat their poo. They just don’t understand the concept.
So today I have some tips on how I am coping, that maybe will help you cope.
Just Do the Best You Can
This post (middle of?) Covid world is new to everyone…so just do the best you can. Don’t worry about everything you could have gotten done before the pandemic hit, especially if protocols are in place that means you have to change the way you work–like I do, because my lesson plans and class set up are not how I teach–or weren’t, until now. I have had to remind myself of this daily when I am at work. We are in extraordinary times, I tell myself, just do the best you can. It actually helps change my behaviour and I get more work done by simply taking a minute to remind myself of this fact.
Remember, You will Adapt
You will find a new balance, and get your groove back. Human beings are very adaptable, so give yourself some credit. It might take some trial and error, but you will find a way to do your job again even in the middle of our current reality. Another thing I try to keep in mind is that this is temporary. Covid might never go away; it will remain in the world, however, it won’t be such a danger forever. The measures we are taking are to prevent the spread, to minimize deaths and save lives will help us with developing natural immunity to the virus. The day will come when we don’t have to wear masks, and can go to the doctor’s office again instead of having your appointment via phone or video conference. Although I am unused to teaching in a pandemic, with guidelines and restrictions, I am beginning to figure out ways to program for my class. Most days anyway. It’s still a lot of trial and error, and that’s okay.
Don’t Take Work Home
Because I am a big believer in self care, and a work-life balance, I don’t think anyone should be taking their job home with them. But during this time especially, be sure to leave work at work. Your time should be spent doing things you need to do for yourself and your family such as getting groceries, helping kids with homework, doing some yoga, playing with dog or reading. Leave the work at work, it’s good self care and right now is not the time to place pressure on yourself to win employee of the year, even figuratively. I leave my work at work; there are very minimal things I do after work. I will pick up supplies, or research a lesson idea, but my off hours are devoted to living my life–cooking, cleaning, errands, some down time with my husband, and things that I enjoy doing, like reading.
Be a Health Nut
If there was ever a reason to really change your lifestyle to be healthier, now is it. Make sure you are eating healthy (lots of fruits and veggies and good fats) and that you are only indulging in “fun” food once in a while. The more real food (i.e not processed) you are eating, all the better for your immune system and body. Make sure you get a full night’s sleep, so do take measures to practice good sleep hygiene and use things like essential oils if you are having difficulty. I make sure that every meal I eat is composed of non processed foods, and that include lots of veggies. I do sometimes include a treat (small fries from McDonalds, or a mini bag of chips) but I am very strict about the meals being healthy. I truly believe those healthy meals are the reason I am not falling into bed as soon as I walk in the door at night, so try it out. Be a health nut! Do exercise, but don’t over do it, as too much exercise does put stress on the body.
Take Time Off When You Can
I’ve talked about staying home when you are sick before, but it’s important to touch on the idea again. If you are sick, there are plenty of reasons to stay home, so please stay home and take care of yourself. And if you simply need a mental health day to veg in bed and read or have a yummy take out lunch, then don’t hesitate to take that day off! It’s a strange new world, one I hope starts looking and feeling more normal again soon, but so much change causes anxiety and stress and so you will likely need more days off to take care of your mental health. It’s okay to time off of from work when you can. There is nothing to feel guilty about. If Covid has taught anything, the biggest take away from this pandemic should be that our health matters, and mental health matters too. I have not taken a day off yet, but I haven’t been at work very long. I have thought of it though because I am exhausted, and I won’t think twice when I really know I need a break.
Final thoughts …
I think we are all tired, and all of us are struggling. I didn’t think I’d live in a decade that will undoubtably be studied in historical for the cultural rifts, political strife and now this pandemic and the extraordinary measures governments are taking because of the Covid-19 virus. What will those who come after us think of 2020? What will we ourselves think in 2030 about this frustrating and dynamic decade? I wonder, but I can’t now know the answers. What I do know is, we all agree that everything is crazy right now. Is it any wonder then that we find working crazy?
Having a full time job, and working every day can be frustrating at the best of times. We have all complained about our jobs–that the hours are long, that it’s hard juggling work and your own personal responsibilities, that there is no time for other activities, that our employers want the impossible, and on and on. It’s not easy working for a living, but we all do it, and some of us manage it better than others. But working right now is even more of a struggle, and I think part of that is the guidelines employers are imposing because of the pandemic, and part of it is also that we don’t like the change. Usually I would say change is inevitable; we have to embrace it, even if it is uncomfortable. But in this case, the changes feel wrong and that makes it harder to cope. I like to remind myself that I have done things in the past that were hard–accepting that I have anxiety, getting well after months of illness and hospitalizations, moving out on my own–and that I can pick my way through this minefield that is life right now at work.
I also remind myself a lot that this too, shall pass.
Are you back at work yet? Share your thoughts in the comments below.