From Geries Shaheen
Geries Shaheen is an active member of the Health Advisory Board for Community Strong SCC and volunteers his time and expert insight to support numerous community health projects in St. Charles County. We hope you will make use of his suggestion.
Flex your day with multiple breaks, if your work can allow for it.
Keeping a routine- similar to your original- is crucial in keeping a healthy frame of mind. Much of being present in the moment revolves around understanding where you stand on a linear timeline. Deviating from that can cause frustration. However, when you build breaks into your already regular routine, it gives you milestones and behavioral queues throughout your day to feel successful while also giving you a chance to step away and decompress from complex thought. It helps in battling concrete thinking.
Have your support systems on chat ready for ongoing check ins.
In this day and age there is little that will keep you from having a chat windows to your sibling, significant other, therapist, mentor, and coworkers on standby. Why have them up? Well, because you may need to vent, process, or even deal with a crisis! Using these support systems is much better than lashing out or being snippy during a zoom meeting after weeks of quarantine! Don’t have a counselor or therapist that regularly connects with you? Check with them, perhaps they’re standards of services have recently changed. Need a complete stranger to talk to? Try BHR (Behavioral Health Response)- They are a great resource.
Keep your routine, do not cut corners.
If you start at 8am, that means be ready at 8am- not brushing your teeth at 7:56am and jumping into a meeting that starts at 8. Keeping an overall ongoing cycle of events will allow for accountability both for yourself and those you are responsible to. Cutting out the drive time will now give you more space to feel ready and confident for the days start! Capitalize on that! Use it for meditation, reading through material you find beneficial and edifying! Continue to be professional in your meetings, showcase your company logo in your background during a meeting, or provide your viewership with good lighting / audio. While these things might not seem like they matter, they provide those who see you with a sense of stability and continuity. It also gives you a sense of visual establishment. “I am in a work meeting, I can tell because I’m dressed for it, my background presents it, and my sense of professionalism displays it.” Our mental health is tied to our sense of identity.
Check in with your coworkers routinely!!
A healthy mind is a social one! Provide your coworkers a check in! Let them know you are as much of an outlet for them as they are an outlet for you. See if they have any needs, and simply be social. This behavior (even if it feel opposite to the norm) will fill this new odd void of social distancing. Flooding our mind with the thing that feels void will give us at least a portion of what we are lacking. That’s better than nothing! Remember to start your meetings with “can you see me and hear me ok! I can see you and hear you ok!”. Believe it or not, that statement is not just related to technology. It operates as a subconscious validation statement. You are heard and seen.
Remember, cognitive distortions are real, when you feel cornered- know that there are always thousands of other options and realties.
There are so many other tips I can share, but these should get you going in the right direction. Remember to be kind, patient and proactive. You may feel overly lonely or deeper rooted issues. Please reach out to a therapist. The above list is not a response to strong mental health concerns, but rather a list of tips for mental health while working from home. If you would like to read some more tips, I have also made some…
Blue light glasses
This is not a promotion, I promise. If you have done any research regarding the brain anatomy you will know that the occipital lobe is what manages our visual intake. It’s located at the back of your head. It’s connected to your eyes (obviously) and thus when you experience increased strain, you will more than likely feel exhausted. All that to say, increased exposure to screens can impact your day. By using blue light blocking lenses, you decrease the amount of strain on your eyes and in turn decrease impact on your mind.
Now is as good of a time as ever to increase activity related to your hobbies, interests, passions and personhood. Not so much as a distraction, but a true way to engage with your identity. Isolating from others will overtime leave you feeling a strange sense of isolating from your own self. Doing the opposite will bring meaning, purpose, and continue sense of insight. How does this relate to work? During your breaks or at the end of each day, be mindful of longer-term projects related to hobbies. Creating this new locus of control gives you anchors that will keep you grounded and progressing.
Upper neck and body yoga stretches
Standing desks are great, but if you’re space or work doesn’t allot for it, consider using your breaks to stretch your upper body and neck. Various yoga poses will keep you feeling refreshed so you don’t keep hunching down looking at your screen. Set your monitor above your line of sight so you look up slightly, be mindful of the distance between your screen and your physical body.
Hydration is usually the first thing to go. Often when people experience crisis or fee overwhelmed for a long period time, essential self-care gets booted to bottom of the list. Check your nails, when was the last time your clipped them? Check your shoulders, when was the last time your relaxed them. Check your breathing, when was the last time you took deep breaths? Stay hydrated so your body and mind continue to work for you not against you. In order to have positive mental health, you must be first engaged with your basic health practices.
About the Author:
Geries Shaheen is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Nationally Certified Counselor operating in and around St. Louis Missouri. Geries holds his MA in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University, BA in Intercultural Studies from Lincoln Christian University, and holds a certificate in Life Coaching, Geries provides life coaching services to clients online globally.
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