With many employees working from home—thrust into close quarters with relatives and distanced from coworkers and friends—an expert says it is important to practice self-care.
After federal health officials recommended people socially distance themselves to reduce the spread of the COVID19 coronavirus, many schools closed and numerous associations asked their employees to work from home. This sudden change of workspace, coupled with additional childcare responsibilities in some cases, can create stress for employees, said Nabil El-Ghoroury, Ph.D., CAE, executive director of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).
“It effects your work tremendously if you aren’t coming into the office,” El-Ghoroury said. “The ability to be productive is changed, particularly for working parents. Also, social contacts—we are social people. Being isolated is pretty challenging, particularly for extroverts.”
He added, “This is definitely going to test people’s relationships, even your relationship with your kids. This poses some unique challenges.”
To help association professionals deal with those challenges, El-Ghoroury offered eight tips.
Practice self-compassion. Realize that in this time when meetings are being canceled, travel is stopped, and supplies are limited, things are not going to all go as planned. “You have to forgive yourself,” El-Ghoroury said. “Let’s just get through this for the time being.”
Reassess expectations. “This also relates to self-compassion,” El-Ghoroury said. “It’s going to be hard to hit targets on the strategic plan or for revenue.” He advised reassessing what you can do within the lens of the current environment.
Assemble your team. El-Ghoroury said to make sure you have the right people on the team to help you do your job in this quickly changing environment.
Make a plan. Determine what will work best for your office environment, which may or may not be everyone working from home. CAMFT chose optional work from home, so people can go in if they prefer. El-Ghoroury said an association colleague told him they are rotating different teams into the office, so sometimes a team works from home and other times that team works at the office in a socially distant manner.
Stay connected. It’s important to connect with people in your office, as well as colleagues. “We have to be intentional about staying in communication,” El-Ghoroury said. “You can’t just walk with your coffee cup three doors down and see people. We have to plan FaceTime or Zoom. Also, reach out to your association colleagues. You can get great ideas from other folks.”
Limit your news consumption. While certain details are important to know for public safety, El-Ghoroury said, beyond that, it can raise anxiety. “Turning it off can really help with your stress,” he said.
Take a break. When people work from home, work can easily bleed into home-life, but El-Ghoroury contends separation is important. “Take breaks and consciously stop working at a certain time,” he said. “We can’t sprint a marathon. You have to pace yourself.”
Practice healthy habits. El-Ghoroury said it’s important to move healthily through your day at home, including eating right, taking walks, and exercising.
El-Ghoroury said right now people are still in the early stages of this crisis mode and things will become “more stable” as we get further along. He added one bonus tip: “Laugh,” he said. “Laughing really relieves stress, and there is only so much you can do.”