A century ago, the most severe pandemic in history spread its tentacles across the world. The 1918 influenza pandemic infected about 500 million people and wiped out a large number of the earth’s population. As of today, a century later, the world is experiencing an arguably equally impactful pandemic. We are presently in a very unique time period in what will make up our history, as approximately 5 months ago, the train of human activity was derailed. As a means to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, physical social interaction in the name of social distancing has been torn away from our lives. Fortunately for us all, we still have the means to interact unlike the earth’s inhabitants a century ago.
We are presently more interconnected than ever before. Technological strides of the modern world now allow us to speedily connect and virtually interact with each other. The ability to instantly see and speak to anyone anywhere in the world regardless of physical distance allows us to maintain relationships and achieve things that we ordinarily would not be able to. Decades ago, sending messages to people took months at a time. Since then we progressed from letter writing to voice calls, and today we have video calls.
The advent of video communications technology has been a game-changer. It allowed us to now work better, faster, and smarter with more advantages too numerous to measure. This has successfully aided the sudden change COVID-19 has created in our experience of work. The fact is – there are very few limitations to the things we can now do remotely.
The Effects of Change
With all the fast-paced changes, there is hardly ever a time for us to reflect on the deeper long-term effects of these changes. Not enough people stop to think about the more personal impacts of working from home, what will it do to our psyche. While working remotely certainly saves time and overhead costs, our mental health faces the risk of damage in the long run. Isolation and alienation have a profound effect on human psychology.
People who feel more connected to others have lower levels of anxiety and depression. In other words, physical social interaction generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional, and physical well-being. Live interaction reduces the damaging effects of loneliness, isolation, alienation, and stress. This in turn will change our attitude towards work and directly impact our ability to perform well in our job roles.
Things we Can do to Stay Sane
The present situation of the world is complicated but necessary. There is no end in sight and so working from home is here to stay for as long as the COVID-19 virus has no developed vaccine. The only options left to us as individuals are for us to adapt and adjust. Among things that will make this adjustment easier are mindfulness, staying fit, healthy, and active distractions.
We need to take full advantage of the communication technology available to us. Indeed, those of us fortunate enough to be working from home can stay in touch over video calling platforms such as Slack, Rocket.Chat, DLS Meeting Room, Skype for Business, and Microsoft Teams…
Mindfulness comes in many forms: meditation, breathing techniques, self-affirmations, and journaling to name a few. Focusing on the small, pleasant moments each day brings can help shape a more positive mindset. It is also well known that physical health and mental health go hand-in-hand. Obviously, staying fit and healthy by exercising daily are ways to enjoy life despite space or equipment limitations. Engaging in calming and creative activities like reading, cooking, and gardening are helpful active distractions. They help shift our thoughts away from the usual stressful track our minds run on and bring about a more positive effect on our mental health.