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Working From Home Made Me More Anxious

I Thought WFH (And Not Wearing Pants) Would Be Fun But Really, it Just Made Me More Anxious

Ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you I love hanging out by myself. I thoroughly enjoy my own company and will happily forgo a night out with friends just to stay home, read and enjoy a glass of red (or a beer, she's not fussy).

So when it was announced that we would "officially" be working from home for the foreseeable future I squealed in delight. Yes, I thought, I'm going to be so productive. I'm going to exercise more (now that I'm not wasting two hours of my life on public transport), I'm going to cook healthy meals and go for a swim on my lunch break . . . I'd worked from home before, a day here and there, this would be sweet.

But what I hadn't thought about was the fact that there is a big difference between choosing to stay at home and being "forced" to stay at home because of a global pandemic.

Around day three of self-isolation (the same day I did a butt mask), not only did I realise the difference, I also triggered my anxiety. Immediately I was inundated with negative thoughts — Am I being productive enough? How can I feel more connected to people? What if I lose my job? What happens if we actually get placed in lockdown? Why don't I feel inspired to write? What happens if someone I love gets sick? What if I get sick? — my mind was moving a million miles a minute with zero chance of slowing down. Suddenly I was drowning, my eyes began to well up and I was doing everything I could to remember how to prevent a panic attack.

I was alone, sitting on the floor of my apartment and having my first real reaction to what was happening around me. This was real. This may very well be my new normal for the foreseeable future and I just couldn't get my head around it.

After giving in and letting my emotions overwhelm me, I started to think about all the practical ways I could approach this. If this was going to be the new normal, I needed to adjust. I began planning a structure for my work day. Aside from actually putting on pants, I decided that I needed to take at least 45 uninrerrupted minutes over lunch to do something different — baking, painting, dancing around the house, going for a run — anything but writing. I promised myself that if I had to make a call or take a meeting, I'd make it a FaceTime, Google hangout or video call instead. I also made the decision to limit my screen time outside of working hours, I was spending way too much time in front of a screen and needed to reconnect with myself and explore new (self-isolated) hobbies.

I think in the beginning, myself, like many others, were naively under the impression that though this was happening, it wasn't happening to me, so it would all blow over. But really you don't have to be sick to feel the effects of a global pandemic. Some of us will get through this without even so much as a sneeze, others will feel its effect in full force in one way or another. You need to think rationally and practically about all the ways you can look after both your (and others) physical and mental health during a time like this.

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