It’s surreal to think things we used to take for granted like meeting with friends, dinners with family, or simply visiting a loved one at home are now a distant memory. As we do our part to reduce the spread of COVID-19, part of this sacrifice is separation from our friends and family, leaving many feeling lonely and isolated. As Safety Leaders, mental health is a crucial component to a strong team.
This week, as part of our Safety Nerds from Home blog series, we are focusing on coping with loneliness. Our gifted Design Lead, Sandy Roy, who is quite the social butterfly and a key member of eCompliance’s Social Committee, took some time to reflect on her experience during this pandemic and share some tips that have helped her stay positive.
Dina: What has this experience been like for you as we shift from being with friends and family regularly, to social distancing becoming the norm?
Sandy: Initially, when the news of a potential quarantine started coming out, I thought about how much of a nightmare it would be, especially for an extrovert like me.
When my nightmare suddenly turned into a reality, I struggled in the beginning, not only because I would be separated from my family and friends for an indefinite amount of time, but also because of an overwhelming sense that quarantine was taking a big part of life away from me. However, now that quarantine has become the new normal for many of us, I realize my perspective had been wrong from the beginning.
Although I miss hugging and seeing my loved ones in person, we’ve been able to stay in constant contact, thanks to video calls. Not only am I in contact with friends and family more consistently than ever, but I also find myself reaching out to a lot of people who I had not connected with in a long time, and making some awesome memories along the way.
Dina: How has changing your workspace from the office to your home affected you and what has been the toughest part about it?
Sandy: Before the quarantine, I could probably count the amount of times that I’ve worked from home on one hand. I’ve always preferred working in an office environment because I’ve found the physical separation of work and life helped me be more productive. Not to mention I loved being around my peers everyday!
The adjustment definitely wasn’t easy. I found myself either getting easily distracted or getting easily burnt out in the beginning, neither of which is ideal.
What’s helped me the most is defining a specific part of my home as my workspace. This allows me to have a bit of work-life separation, or at least as much as social distancing will allow.
Also, I can’t stress the importance of noise cancelling headphones, which allow me to better focus on my work. A comfortable chair also makes the biggest difference!
Although I’ve become a pro at working from home now, it still doesn’t beat working in the office for me. You just have to find the little things that make it more enjoyable, like being able to see my dog more everyday, and suddenly, its not so bad.
Dina: What are some tips you can share with those in our community who are experiencing loneliness?
Sandy: For a lot of people, the lack of social contact with friends, family, and colleagues can really be isolating, and that’s ok.
It’s important to recognize you aren’t the only one feeling this way. This quarantine is affecting a lot of people who are also missing the emotional and social connections they are used to. The best thing we can do is make sure we are still connecting with others.
I think for a lot of people, it is hard to talk about their feelings, so reach out to people in your network and ask them how they are doing. Take the initiative and plan online events for your social circles. Talk to a neighbor you might pass in the elevator or hall. Reply to someone’s comment on Facebook. All of these are great ways for you to connect with the people around you in these strange times.
Lastly, its important to keep a positive outlook. I know things might feel scary for a lot of people right now, but I’ve always found hardship is only temporary, and usually opens the door for opportunity. Maybe this ordeal will help us realize how important our connections with others are, or even help us build new ones. Hang in there everyone, I believe in you!
There is always a silver lining in every situation and just like Sandy says, finding ways to build on the treasured connections we have with others is key.