Here are two pieces by corporate employees with some insights into mental health and wellness during the pandemic. We hope you will find them helpful.
Quarantine State of Mind
By Donovan Williams
We understand that maintaining a peaceful state of mind can be difficult during these times. COVID-19 has changed our life in unimaginable ways; we can no longer congregate in large spaces, go out to the movies or dine in restaurants the way we used to. Physical interaction that once served as a means of emotional expression is now discouraged. While many have begun to try and resume outdoor social activities, others are still minimizing their time away from home to do their part in stopping the spread of the virus.
Quarantine can be a mentally, physically, and emotionally taxing experience. Self-isolation has been proven be detrimental to recovering addicts, those with anxiety, and a slew of other characteristics and personalities. The key to maintaining happiness and security in these strange times is to be intentional about taking care of yourself and acknowledging your feelings. Research ways that you can keep your mind, body, and spirit sharp as we navigate the new normal. Practices such as meditation, stretching, and intermittent social media fasts are things that I can personally attest as to having been helpful in trying to maintain a healthy disposition during these times.
Johns Hopkins has produced an article that provides more tips while going more into detail about how COVID-19 can affect our psyche and ways you combat these effects. Henry Ford Health Systems has also produced a helpful article providing information on how to lead a healthy lifestyle during these unprecedented times.
A clear theme can be seen in all these tips; take care of and be honest with yourself. Take care of yourself by exercising, getting fresh air, and maintaining a healthful diet. Be honest with yourself by identifying your emotional triggers and limiting your media intake accordingly. Meditate regularly to properly deal with your emotions and mitigate stress. This is a difficult time for all of us, but hopefully this time also allows us to focus on ourselves and, even considering all that we have lost, find things in our lives that we are thankful for.
The Uncertainty of Returning to the Workplace
By Luke Hoffman
As D.C. enters phase two, many people are beginning to anticipate their return to their respective physical workplaces. With this anticipation comes risk assessment. Am I willing to wear a mask at the office all day while social distancing? Do I live with someone that would be considered high risk to contracting COVID-19? Am I worried about contracting COVID-19 myself, or am I more concerned with spreading the virus to the more vulnerable in my community? Where can I get tested if I think I am infected?
These are just some of the many questions one must consider. This uncertainty can cause imminent stress and take a toll on mental health. Because the crisis is so volatile and unpredictable, the best way to mitigate this uncertainty is to consistently inform oneself of current news and events surrounding the virus. Doing so allows us to understand the challenges that we will face, and how we need to deal with them.
When it comes to knowing what procedures to follow in order to avoid becoming infected or infecting others, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a set of guidelines for businesses wanting to bring workers back, which can be found here. In summary, they recommend three different strategies: symptom-based (does the person have symptoms), time-based (has the person been isolated without symptoms for the proper amount of time) and test-based.
Additionally, a list of testing sites in Washington D.C. can be found here.
The changes that come with leaving quarantine can be uncertain and stressful. To ease the difficulty of this process, we need to remember to stay informed, do our part to prevent quarantine from lasting longer than necessary, and try to avoid stigmatizing those who have successfully returned from quarantine. On an individual level, it is crucial to remember that ultimately, the best person to decide if you yourself are ready to return to work or not is an informed, prepared you.