New to working from home? Unforeseen challenges? Our Lawyer Assistance Program Director Stacey Whiteley offers these tips to help ease anxiety and stress while working from home.
Stay connected to your colleagues, to the profession, and to family and friends. Use the many services that are available online to help ease feelings of isolation. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Snapchat all provide easy contact with others to stay in touch, check in with one another, and keep up with the news. Be careful though and make sure your feeds aren’t overwhelming you with bad news. Take time to curate your friends and follow lists; mute or unfollow friends or sources that are creating feelings of anxiety or dread. You can always go to their individual pages if you wish and following this crisis you can unmute them again. There’s no reason to bring more negativity into your life at this time.
Google provides a number of free services, including video chatting, that will allow you to see your friends and family and stay in touch. Most businesses use video conferencing services as part of their daily work. Take advantage of these services to stay in contact with your staff, colleagues, and clients.
Many bar associations, including NYSBA, are offering webinars covering a number of legal topics. NYSBA is working on providing nearly daily webinars. Commit to attending these webinars to keep informed and engaged in the profession.
Follow a routine while working at home.
Keeping a routine during your workday will help you maintain a sense of normalcy and control over your time. If you usually wake up at 6:00 am on a regular workday, aim to continue to wake up at that time. If you usually take a lunch break at 1:00 pm, continue to do that and be sure to make it an actual break, don’t eat in front of your laptop or take calls during this time. If you have regular staff meetings on Monday at 10:00 am, continue that practice over Zoom or Skype. Limit your time checking the news to specific times during your workday. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon during your work day should provide you with enough time to catch up on what’s going on. If you regularly go to the gym or for a run after work, continue to plan on getting those work outs done at your home. Going for runs or walks is absolutely okay and can clear your mind and help you feel better.
Move your body as best you’re able.
This is vitally important. Going for a walk, a run, watching an old exercise video or something on youtube, having a dance party in your kitchen, or breaking out that long unused piece of gym equipment stuck in the corner is exactly what you should be doing. There are also several online exercise classes to be found for free right now: yoga, barre, old school Jane Fonda workouts, strength training, just about anything and everything is available. This site shares a number of these online resources: https://makeyourbodywork.com/how-to-exercise-at-home/. Moving your body helps clear your mind, increases your feelings of wellbeing, and gives you a moment to focus on yourself and not on the news or work.
Take a break.
There are free online concerts, online museum tours, free Broadway shows, and operas being streamed daily, links can be easily found by googling “free online concerts/Broadway shows, etc”. Relax and take the time to enjoy these cultural experiences. Netflix is providing watching parties, so you can remotely watch shows and movies with a group of friends. It’s a free download (netflixparty.com) and lets your group chat and watch the movie together, with the ability to stop and playback portions of the movie you’re watching.
Be kind to yourself.
These are unprecedented times we are in. Every day brings new changes to our lives. People are home, kids are home, and our new “normal” is unfolding in real time. We are all doing our best in circumstances we’ve never faced before, so don’t feel that you need to be on top of everything every second of every day. Let yourself take time to pat yourself on the back for doing all you can do right now and having the ability to continue to do the next right thing.
If you are struggling with your mental health and feeling overwhelmed and helpless, seek help. You can call NYSBA’s LAP Helpline at (800)255-0569 or call the Mental Health Association of New York State’s Helpline for mental health resources in your community: (800) 766-6177. Although many in-person meetings have been suspended right now, counselors and therapists are working with clients over the phone or through video chat. Don’t hesitate to seek help; it is available.