How to professionally cope with COVID-19

COVID-19. What started as a terrible news story from China quickly morphed into a horrifying reality across the globe. Many of us have started to work from home, while many more of us are still on the job in fields such as healthcare and supply chain logistics. Not to mention, a growing number of us have been laid off due to the need to reduce human interaction.

No matter what your situation is, CTPA has a few tips for you to manage during the upcoming weeks. It will be rough, and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before; however, humanity is resilient and we will thrive no matter the circumstances.

Working from home

While working from home initially sounds like an amazing prospect (I can sleep in! I can wear pyjamas all day! No more micromanagement from my boss!), the excitement can quickly wear off as you realize you may have to contend with your crying children, the TV volume set to extra loud by your parents, and a chair that is decidedly less comfortable than your office throne. Here are some ways to stay productive despite the change in environment:

Carve out a workspace for yourself

Whether it’s a fully dedicated home office, or half of the dining table, find a way to mark a space as your workspace. Put all of your work related items there and keep them there. When you dedicate a space to your work, you will be able to focus and keep your head in the work mindset. You may have been suddenly thrown into a work from home situation, but that’s an extra incentive to make sure whatever desk you’re working on, your own workspace.

Schedule breaks throughout the day and
work when you are most productive

One benefit of working from home is being able to get work done at your most productive hour. Aside from attending meetings during 9-5, if you know you’re a night owl and have work that does not depend on other clients, get it done at midnight! If you’re an early bird, write your reports at 6 am! This will allow you to take breaks throughout the day to stretch, eat, and take care of your children. 

Dress for the job

It may be tempting to wear PJs all day, or if you have a lot of client meetings, to wear half and half business and comfy. However, if you put in a bit of effort to put on some clean pants and a shirt, you’ll kick your brain into work mode. Of course, everyone works differently, but if you’re finding that you’re lacking motivation to work, maybe changing your clothes will help.

Set work goals to achieve by the end of each day or week

Whether you are perfectly self motivated, or not motivated at all, having goals to achieve for each day will keep you moving even when the boss isn’t breathing down your back. It can be as simple as “revise 3 SOPs each day” or “finish writing the financial report by Friday”, and these goals will give you the momentum to push past all of those Youtube videos.

Working on the job

If you are still working on the job because you’re in an essential industry, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Whether it’s healthcare, food retail, transport logistics and trucking, and even delivery services, you are the force that keeps this country moving in this unprecedented crisis. However, this means that you’re probably experiencing a lot of stress as you continue to go to work. Here are some tips to help soothe your troubled mind:

Maintain contact with your loved ones

Social distancing is a really bad term, to be honest. The term should have been called physical distancing, because while you may have to disinfect yourself after each shift at work and even live in a different area than your family, that doesn’t mean you can’t stop socializing with them.

Continue to reach out to friends, family, loved ones, and maintain those bonds through texts, memes, or even watching Netflix together (using the Chrome extension Netflix Party). Facetime your grandma every night. Keep in contact with the ones who make you feel good, and you will never feel alone.

Cut down media consumption

While it’s definitely important to stay on top of the latest developments surrounding the virus, that doesn’t mean you need to listen to the news 24/7. Set a limit for how long the news can run in your house. Inform family and friends that even if they think they are being helpful, you don’t need to know the COVID-19 death toll today. If you need to, put a block on news websites in your web browser. Eliminating these distractions will help you focus on your main priorities.

Seek out therapy

I’m telling you right now: do not feel bad about your emotions. You are most definitely not the first or the last to experience the wave of emotions that has washed over us all: grief, loss, fear, anxiety. No matter how advanced we are, it is still difficult for our brains to grasp the concept of this invisible enemy that grows exponentially and insidiously. I recommend that if you can, to seek out therapy to untangle your emotions. Since in-person appointments are not possible right now, you can contact a counsellor online through inkblottherapy.com. Their counsellors are available anytime from the safety of your computer, so you can talk after a rough shift at work. 

No more work

Whether you’ve been laid off, or put yourself under quarantine for yourself or a loved one, the loss of a job is never easy. You are not alone in your struggles, as the unemployment rate in Canada has already increased and will continue to soar for the next few months. Know that this is not your fault, that a pandemic is a black swan event and extremely rare, but unpredictable and severe. Here are some tips to help you get back on your feet:

Understand the EI system, and figure out how you fit within it

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced a series of financial measures to help Canadians, whether they have been laid off or need to care for a loved one with COVID-19. The following infographic clearly explains which type of benefit you are entitled to, and how you can apply for it. If you were laid off, make sure your employer files an RoE (Record of Employment) so you are eligible for EI. 

Maintain a routine at home

You may feel like the world has turned upside down, but by keeping a routine at home, you will be able to maintain a sense of normalcy. Whether it’s a daily walk in your backyard or home, tea and biscuits at 4 p.m. sharp, or watching a movie with your sick loved one each day, these small gestures will keep you from becoming disoriented.

Take time for yourself

When someone is laid off, the first thought is to jump back into the job hunt and get a job. That may not be feasible right now, as businesses on all sides are collapsing, closing, and laying off their own employees. Instead, take this time for yourself. Stay inside, of course, but use this time to treat yourself and rediscover hobbies you had left behind. If you’re taking care of a loved one, the same applies to you too. When you help yourself, you will be able to help others. 

In summary, it feels like the whole world has been pushed off a boat into the deep sea with no way to swim. I hope you are able to float with these tips and I promise that if we hang on, we will be able to reach the shore someday. 

Written by: Praveena Thirunathan

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