How can my coworkers and I deal with Covid anxiety while we are getting beaten down at work?
Covid anxiety is a real thing. If you look around just about everyone is feeling and acting more stressed out than normal. People have shorter tempers, faster fuses…. You name it but people’s moods seem to be going from zero to sixty very quickly. This holds true of parents, kids, bosses, employees, and even little old ladies.
Before we can address the problem of getting beaten down at work, we have to check in with our own stress levels. What can we do ourselves to bring our stress level baseline back down a little closer to where is was last summer. First, let’s give ourselves space and understanding to go ahead and feel differently this year. And then ask what did you do with your time differently last year vs. this year? Can you find a way to start doing some of those things again? Even if that thing was a vacation, which is certainly harder to come by now, could you find a way to make it happen? Sure it wont be the same as before Covid, but what are some safe choices you could make to get a bit of a break? Maybe an air B&B instead of a hotel? Maybe a mountain lake instead of a crowded ocean beach and boardwalk? No spa, pedicure, or haircut? Schedule an outdoor date with a friend, wear a mask, and maybe paint each other’s toes? There are safe ways to do the things we used to do; we just have to do them a little differently now. Hopefully as we makes these adjustments and start approaching a more “normal” life again, our personal stress levels will go down and we’ll find we have a little more patience.
The next trick is to have patience with others. We’re all human; hopefully we’re all trying our best to adjust to the new normal. But it’s hard. For everyone! Bosses don’t know how to be telework bosses any more than you know how to be a telework employee. They don’t know how to oversee work and make sure that everyone is being as productive as they need to be when they can’t see you. The bosses don’t know if you’re home working or watching Netflix. They might be more demanding without realizing it. They might not know that you have a hard closing your laptop at 5 and find yourself working till 10 every night because of the increased demands. We have to find a way to give the bosses feedback. Let them know how this is going, help teach them how to be a remote boss. Let them know what would be helpful. Tell them what boundaries you need and what motivation would be helpful. Address the conflict and find a solution together. The trick here is that a business wont care about you. A business can’t care about you. Businesses don’t have feelings. But the people who work from them, at all levels, have feelings and need you to perform to the best of your ability. Let the people know what you need so that you can do that.
Long story short, practice self care to reduce your stress and then go up the chain in you place of work to let managers and bosses know how you’re feeling, what you’re doing, and what you need. For more specific help and guidance don’t be afraid to reach out to a therapist. I am a psychologist in Alexandria, Virginia and I would be happy to help.