A mental health guide for women working from home

The COVID-19 global pandemic has confined millions to their homes as they juggle work, household chores and looking after their children. Here is a guide to staying sane and safe during this period.

A mental health guide for women working from home

Thursday April 02, 2020,

6 min Read

The coronavirus pandemic has affected thousands of lives and brought about grave amounts of fear. The gravity of the situation has amounted to aggressive forms of containment (like the lockdowns) in many parts of the globe.

These are indeed challenging times for humankind, for it is a deviation from what many of us would consider ‘normal’. The looming uncertainty takes it a notch above by making daily life more herculean, for it is unconsciously perceived as a threat to well-being. And therefore, it is a call for a drastic change in the way we function physically and mentally.

working from home

Change is a confounding phenomenon. It is something that we are constantly in the pursuit of and on the contradictory, rebel with it when it comes. We whine about our work and everyday chores that make us unhappy while in the ‘normal’ routine, talking about wanting breaks to break the normal, and now when the situation is not ‘normal’, we are desperately waiting for the ‘normal’.

This, in my observation typically takes two forms of reactions.

Panic – Not to stereotype, but many researchers suggest that women are twice as more likely to exhibit this category of reaction. The consequence of this being constantly browsing about the virus, the number of people affected and the deaths it has caused. Introspect, to see if this helps. It definitely helps to keep ourselves informed about the status-quo, however, see how unhelpful this can become, beyond. Anxiety and panic are potential elements to reduce the effective function of the immune system. Which means, we are aiding the deterioration of both mental and physical health. And this is not what we need in these times.

Boredom – I hear this very often lately, not that boredom did not kick in in the past but as biased as we get, the ‘normal’ was apparently better (I hope the sarcasm is detectable!).

This sort of a reaction leads to us feeling lethargic, making us less productive and therefore aiding deterioration in all aspects.

Remember that these reactions are not bad, but definitely serve a purpose. The purpose being, a call for the not very easily practiced acceptance. The situation may not change for a while, however our perceptions can. It is a call for evolution.

Recognise the panic as a reaction and remember to turn it into a response. We are the most evolved species and yet there is always scope for more. The brain learns if your mind teaches it. The art of mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation can be highly beneficial. Turn it to your advantage and attempt at learning these techniques to help yourself evolve.

Acknowledge the boredom and expand your awareness to harnessing the situation in the most productive way. We complained about not having the time for a tonne of things in the past and this situation gives us the time to channelise energy into things we have always wanted to do. Making sure you don’t take time for granted is the way to be. Enjoy it while it lasts, for we all know that this phase is only temporary.

The ‘work from home status’ can be made better by practising the above, but there’s more that can be done. We can divide it into four aspects. I am not suggesting that it be followed exactly the way I put it; however, they can be modified according to the situation. Set up a skeleton routine to enable the following aspects.

Work – Distraction is but natural while trying to work with household chores or children around the house. However, beginning the day early may allow for more time to be able to attend to the other aspects. Dress up like you would to go to office or even wear the clothes that you don’t often wear to work (not pajamas). Start early to close laptops earlier than usual!

Relationships – This category can be divided into family, friendships and romantic relationships. This is the best time to make relationships more qualitative than while in the rat race. Take the time to spend quality time with family, catch up with friends online from across the globe or the city even (very necessary to keep a stable mind in these times of the social distancing) and in understanding your romantic partner/spouse better.

Leisure – We often neglect this aspect of our well-being. Pick up the guitar you haven’t touched, or the book you’ve left half/unread or pick up that hobby you meant to start years ago but never laid hands on due to the failed attempt of making time.

Personal growth/health – Personal growth can refer to understanding your own selves better both mentally and physically. Physical exercise is absolutely necessary to keep the body healthy and the practice of meditation/mindfulness to keep the mind in good health.

For mothers:

Remember, children are resilient and very creative, they will find ways to entertain themselves. While you make time to play with them, make sure you are allowing them time to think out-of-the-box and also individuate in terms of play. There is little need to be over-involved.

Check on them every 90 minutes or so while you go about either household chores or work to keep them engaged for about 4-5 hours in the day. The rest of the day refer to point number 1.

To keep them engaged, you can use half of your leisure time to understand their interests better. Help them in the pursuit of hobbies, which may become very important in the later years of their lives.

To all the powerful women out there:

Assert for division of duties. This is the best time to equip your family with survival skills like cleanliness and cooking. I understand that the ways of executing things would be different but allow it through acceptance. The benefits are twofold here.

Ask for help when needed. It is a natural tendency to take onus of everything, but it is not possible to do everything. We don’t want to lead ourselves to a burnout in this particular phase.

Let go of perfectionism. This is with special regard to household chores. Modify the rule of perfectionism to what is appropriate to the situation, because remember, the brain will learn. Practice flexibility and vow to be less critical whilst the rest are helping. It is absolutely okay if it isn’t as tidy as it usually is, it is okay if the efficiency at which another person functions is lesser. The thing to remember is everybody is in the zone of discomfort.

And conclusively, let us all take a moment to thank everybody around the world who are helping to defend us against this pandemic. Let us practice the art of trust adhering to all the pleas of the government. Trust the process and stay safe.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)