This article was contributed by: Chris Lentricchia, Sara E. Davila, Rin Oliver, Jennifer Lankford, Andrew Randall, Shea Stewart, and Dave McAllister.
The ongoing situation surrounding COVID-19 and social distancing as much of a mental health issue as it is a viral one. With everything that’s going on, it’s normal to have concerns right now. To that end, members of the CNCF Well-Being Working Group have pulled together some common questions about balancing work with our current situation as well as some resources to help our community ensure their continued mental and physical well-being. We’ve also included ways that you can help while still practicing social distancing. While this list certainly isn’t exhaustive, we hope that by starting to curate a list of frequently asked questions, resources, and suggestions, we can begin to learn to cope with the mental health aspects of COVID-19 and our new world of social distancing, together.
I’m feeling a little down today, what can I do to help myself?
It’s okay to not feel okay. Notice those feelings, and give them permission to be there. We don’t have to be happy all the time; we’re humans and sometimes humans aren’t happy. Don’t rush, and enjoy the “little” things in life, like good coffee, fresh air, and life itself. Although feeling down is normal, remember that happiness is a choice and that nothing can make us feel bad without our approval. There’s always something to be grateful for.
I don’t want to complain because I know I’m privileged. Others have it worse than me.
There’s an important difference between complaining and pointing out that you’re feeling a specific type of way. While we should be careful not to make this event about us, telling someone that you’re feeling a specific way right now is human and normal.
What if I’m not being productive at work?
Give yourself permission to not be productive right now if that’s what you need. This is a complicated time and a lot of us aren’t mentally engaged. This is also a fantastic time to learn how to get away from the “cult of productivity”, where we push ourselves to become more productive until we burn out. Step back, take a deep breath, and do something that makes you feel good.
I heard this from a co-worker: You are not “working from home”, you are “at home during a crisis, trying to work”. This is important to realize as even I’m struggling and have been working from home for years. 60% effort may be all you can muster.
– Bryan Liles (@bryanl) April 2, 2020
What about my boss? I have to show them that I’m doing something, right?
To an extent, yes. You shouldn’t be expected to be as productive as you normally would. Even if you normally WFH, this is still an odd period of time. While taking care of yourself, be mindful that the current situation is affecting everyone differently. Keep in mind that your boss may be experiencing their own stressors.
I’m new to working from home. I see all these pieces of advice from people. Will that work for me?
Maybe, or maybe not. All human beings are different (that’s what makes us amazing). You can try some of the tips you see, but you don’t necessarily have to try them. Something that works for someone else may not necessarily work for you too – and that’s completely okay.
I have someone that is messaging me constantly and panicking; they’re inhibiting my ability to take care of myself/focus! I feel like I’m being selfish to turn them off.
You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first. Give yourself permission to advocate for your own needs. While it may not be possible to protect the world from itself, it is possible to protect yourself from the world. Put an emphasis on making the right choices; by not responding to panic, you may be doing the other person a favor – even if they don’t know it.
I’m kind of lonely right now
That’s understandable. If you’re in need of social interaction, you could try having digital coffee hours with your friends or co-workers, or you could try reaching out to someone that you haven’t in a long time just to catch up. Now is a great time to let someone else know how much they mean to you, too. The most important thing is to find what makes you happy and do it.
Working from home with my family is stressing
Gone are the days when you were trying to have everyone in the same room, as now they are always there! It can be difficult to find enough time to focus on work or yourself with your spouse and/or kids at home. It’s very likely that your family and work schedule needs to adjust to accommodate everyone in the house. Clear communication to your family and your coworkers about when you intend to work and when you intend to focus on family will go a long way towards others respecting your time and space.
I’m concerned about my job status
That’s a completely valid concern. Now is an excellent time to have that conversation with your management.
The news is making me stressed out
If you’re feeling stressed out, it might be a good time to consider stepping away. In the 24-hour news cycle, you can choose to consciously limit consumption – instead of checking headlines constantly throughout the day, have a news catch-up in the morning and then again in the evening. Most of the major news we see today, while being interesting, is not actionable. For example, knowing that the Dow Jones is taking a nosedive may be interesting to us, but it’s information that you are likely not be able to do anything with. At most the information can be seen as neutral and at worst, harmful. To that end, updating yourself once or twice per day is enough to stay informed while still protecting yourself from harm.
This is all coming at an interesting time. I was thinking about [insert big decision here]
This isn’t a great time to make big decisions if you can help it. Provided that you have no timeline for your decision, take advantage of this opportunity to think through any decisions you may be taking without taking action on them. If you do have to make a large decision soon, talk it through with trusted friends and family before acting.
Exercise used to be my go to stress reliever and now I can’t go to the gym.
Consider using this time to build your home practice or trying something new. Physical practices like yoga, mindfulness, breath work or meditation could calm your fears. And if yoga isn’t for your, many global fitness brands have pivoted to providing some sort of virtual class. Check in with your local studio or gym and see what they are offering online. Also check in with your social circle and see if you can create a virtual challenge together to help stay motivated.
Mental Health Resources:
Sanvello (Formerly Pacifica Health) is currently making its premium services free to all users. “All content, coping tools, and peer support-is completely free during the COVID-19 crisis.”
Headspace is a mental health app that can be useful in daily life, as well as during COVID-19. Headspace is offering free support during the COVID-19 situation.
The Daily Stoic is a journal, newsletter, and website that documents consumable lessons from Stoic philosophers.
Tiny Care Bot is a twitter bot that tweets periodic healthy reminders.
Youper is an Emotional Health Assistant that applies Artificial Intelligence to monitor and improve your emotional health. It helps you feel your best with quick conversations based on various psychological techniques personalized to your needs and style.
How You Can Help Yourself and Others:
– Reach out to friends and loved ones to check in on them. Video chat is a great way to maintain or build on those personal connections.
– Stay at home and maintain social distancing.
– Donate blood to organizations in your community, keeping in mind that you may be able to donate directly to your local hospital.
– Listen to others. Be compassionate, mindful, and kind
– Show gratefulness to others; everyone’s trying to do their part and it feels good to give and receive words of affirmation
– Be mindful of the spread of misinformation and panic.
– Avoid spreading any kind of medical information if you are not a medical professional, and be mindful of the mental state of others before sharing information that may be alarming to others. Avoid making irrational commentary to stop the spread of panic.
– Avoid speculation and do not spread unfounded rumors or speak for any organization without proper authorization. To help stop misinformation, you can visit the World Health Organization (WHO) mythbusters page, and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) FAQ page.
– Be healthy. Remember to eat right, get regular exercise, and plenty of sleep. Eating foods or taking supplements to support your Immune system may not be a bad idea.
– Take a sick day from work to rest and recharge if you’re feeling worn out.
– Slow down and check in on yourself. Ask yourself how you’re feeling and what you need. Also consider asking yourself what you’re grateful for.
Have more ideas? Help build the conversation by sharing your thoughts and ideas with your communities. Together, we can help one another through these challenging times. In any event, keep focusing on the positives in your life. Keep cool and calm, be willing to listen to others. Be compassionate to everyone, and finally always be kind.