The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we all work, whether you’re still reporting onsite or working from home. The fear and anxiety you feel from these uncertain times can be overwhelming—and work stress can add to that feeling and lead to burnout. Here’s how you can identify stress and build mental resilience so that you can cope with these trying times—and come out thriving.
The symptoms of stress include:
- Irritation, anger, or denial
- Uncertainty, anxiousness, nervousness
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
- Feeling sad / depressed
- Having trouble sleeping / sleeping too much
- Having trouble concentrating
Building Mental Resilience
A few simple practices can help you cope with stress and foster mental resilience. These will help you manage job stress while dealing with the uncertainty of the global pandemic.
Create and follow a routine
Anxiety usually comes from a feeling that you are not in control, so the first step is to focus on something you can easily control: your daily routine. Establish a routine that you can easily follow and stick to it—ideally this should be similar to your schedule before the pandemic. This includes:
- Following a simple morning routine of making your bed, making coffee, having breakfast, etc.
- Following a regular sleep schedule
- Setting aside time for breaks from work and using that time to stretch, exercise, or check in with your loved ones
- Spending time outdoors to get some sunlight for a few minutes a day
- Setting a regular time to end your work
- Enjoying hobbies and things you love to do during non-work hours
Be deliberate about how you spend your time and what kind of energy it brings to the table. Starting your day off with activities that make you feel good and bring positive energy can help you cope with stress and anxiety. Even something as simple as changing the way you think of your tasks as growth opportunities rather than thinking of them as obstacles will help improve the rest of your outlook for the day.
Communicate and connect
Talking helps you process your feelings and keeps you connected with others even while being apart. If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or sad, talk to your team about it and figure out how you can work through these emotions. Or you can talk to your loved ones—drop them a message online, give them a call or organize events on Zoom that allow you to talk, connect and interact safely. Keep your communication lines open and be ready to receive—and offer—social support.
Focus on the facts
Knowledge is power—and being informed is the best way you can prepare for what’s to come. Make sure to check reliable and official sources such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) updates for you to get accurate information about the risks and protecting yourself and other people.
Take breaks from the news
After getting the facts, step away from the TV, the news websites, even Twitter. Take breaks from the news because this can add to your stress. Constantly hearing about the news and about other people’s struggles during this pandemic can be mentally exhausting, so don’t feel guilty about taking breaks every once in a while.
Eat healthy meals
Proper nourishment is important in keeping your energy up and keeping your brain healthy and alert. Make sure to follow a balanced diet and eat healthy meals on time so you have the energy and the mental capacity to deal with the stress at work and in life.
Ask for help
If you feel overwhelmed with everything that’s currently on your plate, remember that it’s okay to ask for help. Talk to your manager or to your HR representatives about getting mental health support at work.