It’s no understatement to say that current world health events are affecting so much more than our lungs. Outside of the virus itself, sits the ecosystem we all live in.
In my role, my big focus is sleep and all that surrounds it, from living well and happily to productivity and peak performance. All of these are coming under pressure from COVID-19 — but it doesn’t have to stop you in your tracks.
I’d like to offer you some perspective shifts and simple, practical tools to keep life as you know it relatively calm, happy and productive, however, your circumstances are changing.
Suddenly we are dealing with everything from social isolation to more economic instability.
Using the 7 areas of life to manage the changes
If you’ve read my content or taken any of my training in the past, then you may already know about the 7 areas of life. Typically, our lives can be looked at in 7 sections when it comes to physical and mental health, sleep and productivity.
So today let’s look at these 7 areas through the lens of the current situation, and get some perspective on how to manage our lives well during this period of change.
On a personal note, something that’s really important for my own wellbeing is my regular yoga class – which of course is now cancelled until further notice. My first tip for you in the physical area of life is to find a way of exercising by yourself that keeps your brain and body happy.
Don’t become sedentary — that will negatively affect your energy, focus and mood. Attend an online class, or take yourself out for a walk in the fresh air if and when possible to do so.
The other tip here is to keep regular meal times, including your lunch break that you would typically have on a normal working day. Keep that ritual of leaving your desk space and getting something nutritious to see you through the afternoon.
Our emotional lives are always fluctuating, and it’s completely normal to feel unsettled during times of change. But here I also want to urge you to keep some perspective and not let panic set in. With so much bad news, there comes a time each day to switch off the TV or radio, stop Google searching, and focus inward.
Remember what you CAN be in charge of.
The other thing I recommend is to keep talking; to friends, family, and your therapist if you have one. Most people have access to Skype or something similar – or there is always the phone.
Needless to say that social isolation from the pandemic is not necessarily great for our mental wellbeing. Physically isolating shouldn’t stop you from talking and socializing.
On the flip side of that, be mindful about the interactions you are having with friends who are being negative or panicking. You can be there for people and help them through without getting pulled into their worry or negative headspace.
Keep yourself positive, and spread positivity wherever you can.
When I talk about spirituality, it can make some of my readers do a double-take.
But I am not coming to this area of life from a religious or ethereal point of view. When I talk about your spiritual area of life, I simply mean your fulfilment and happiness.
My best tip here is to make sure you are creating pockets of time for yourself to create a check-in with yourself. Do you need to take ten minutes to just breathe and refocus on the positive?
This is a big one during a pandemic – I’m talking about overthinking! I’ve already seen clients and friends of mine alike getting intellectual overload from watching too much news or reading too much online.
Focus on keeping things sensible. Perhaps only watch the headlines once or twice a day. It’s important to be informed, but it’s detrimental to be overwhelmed.
Overthinking and worrying is a major cause of short-term insomnia, so that last hour of your day before bed is not the time to watch the news. Watch or read something light, or meditate if that helps you.
I often talk with my clients about their home environment in terms of their sleep and keeping work outside of the bedroom door. If you are going to be working from home for the foreseeable future, then creating your boundaries in your home space is going to be very important indeed.
If it is possible with the space you have, keep your workspace separate from your sleep space.
Also, consider those in your household who need to study or young children who need playtime. Physical space boundaries and time-boundaries around work time and home time will help to keep things productive.
It is well known that lack of sleep and downtime, in other words overworking, seriously impacts your occupational drive over time. Both bringing your work home, and the economic uncertainty could be triggers that drive you to overwork.
As I said above, setting time boundaries on work time and home time will help you maintain order. I also want to remind you here about keeping your perspective.
When the world returns to normal, your work will still need doing. Don’t burn yourself out now through overworking. Keep things balanced and you will stay productive in the long-term. The current situation is a short-term issue to get through. We still need to keep our eyes on the long term.