Authored by Tamela Turk, Medical Analyst
Working from home is a perk that some of us have enjoyed for years, but recently, many people are experiencing a remote work setting for the first time in response to coronavirus restrictions. Many positives are associated with work from home, but one of the negatives is social isolation. We do not have the daily personal interaction with co-workers and management that many of us rely on whether we live alone or not.
I absolutely love that my position provides me the opportunity of a remote working environment. Until recently, I lived alone. My daughter and my son lived in a different state. I lived a life of social isolation, but I could go out and have dinner when I felt the urge to be around people. Luckily, I moved near my daughter and son right before the coronavirus became a household word, so at least I have my children near me. Prior to the move, I dealt with social isolation by going to restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, wineries, ballgames, and visiting family across the country. All of that changed when social distancing was recommended, and city and states issued stay-at-home orders.
Since social distancing was recommended, I’ve had to learn to be more creative with my time. What could I do to keep myself from the doldrums? I binge watched shows my kids recommended, but that wasn’t enough. I would laugh, but then go back to watching the Hallmark Channel’s Christmas movies that are being run 24/7 during this time. I found myself getting more depressed. Once the stay-at-home order hit my area, I started feeling a bit claustrophobic. I had so many plans and now I was stuck at home. Luckily, my son had moved in right before the order took effect, however, being directed to stay at home when I already worked from home started to mess with my psyche until I took control of it.
What could I do?
My outlook changed because it had to. No more fretting, no more anger. I have no control over the situation so I must make the best of what has been dealt, because it could always be worse. It finally dawned on me that it was spring, a season of rebirth and new beginnings. I decided to take a drive to explore the area since I recently moved to a new state. I stumbled upon a state park and the first thing that greeted me was a stunning bald eagle. It was my first sighting ever and it felt like a sign. I saw people fishing along the banks of the lake and the docks all standing a minimum of six feet apart following the national and local guidelines. I saw a family with 6 small dogs walking in an isolated part of the park and many of the trees were in full bloom. It reminded me that as the seasons change, so do our lives. What is here today will be gone in another season. The drive invigorated me.
When I came home, I decided to do some spring cleaning and tackle some yard work. If I am stuck at home, I am going to enjoy my outdoors. I made designs for the backyard flower beds, re-seeded my yard, and used my grill and fire pit for the first time. I went to bed that night feeling accomplished and excited about the next day.
When I woke up the next morning, I got ready like I had a date planned. Looking in the mirror gave me a huge boost of self-esteem. I spoke with my daughter and son to plan for the day. Since my daughter lives in another county, we decided to play a game over the phone via Facetime. We played Bezzerwizzer, which is a robust version of Trivial Pursuit. We had a blast! We decided to have a weekly game day over the phone throughout the stay-at-home order. Another activity we are planning is to choose a movie to watch and Facetime after to get everyone’s critique.
There are so many things we can do to busy our minds we just need to be creative. Some ideas include having a family meal and including others in the family by Facetime or Skype, making a daily phone call to friends and family, building Lego projects, crafting, woodworking, riding bikes, or taking walks. My son bought a basketball hoop so the two of us can release some frustration, and I can’t wait! Time to work on my three-point shots.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic we were becoming more socially isolated due to technology, but now technology is keeping us in touch with our families, friends, co-workers and communities. Now is the time to take a page from the past and join it with our present. Remember what you did as a child, use your mind to create the idea and use technology to include family and friends that cannot join in person. As with the seasons, this too will pass. It is how we deal with crisis that not only impacts us, but everyone else in our lives.