The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
Know the signs of stress:
Keep things in perspective. Set limits on how much time you spend reading or watching news about the outbreak. You will want to stay up to date on news of the outbreak, particularly if you have loved ones in places where many people have gotten sick. But make sure to take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.
Get the facts. Find people and resources you can depend on for accurate health information. Learn from them about the outbreak and how you can protect yourself against illness, if you are at risk. You may turn to your family doctor, a state or local health department, U.S. government agencies, or an international organization. Check out the sidebar on the next page for links to good sources of information about infectious disease outbreaks.
Keep yourself healthy.
Pay attention to your body, feelings and spirit.
Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:
Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared. There are many things you can do to support your child, including:
Understand expectations. Understand both IPS and your specific Agency’s expectations of you while working remotely. Are there specific hours you need to be available or performance goals that need to be met? Give your manager and peers frequent updates with what you are working on and let them know if you’re going to be away from your desk for a while.
Set boundaries and log off. Set boundaries on your work hours. If you normally are expected to work 8 hours in the office, work 8 hours at home, then log-off. Make sure there is a distinct line between work time and you time.
Stick to a routine. Get up, make coffee, exercise, shower. Act as you would when you would go into the office. Do not wear the same clothes that you slept in, change clothes. They can be comfortable (a perk to working from home) just not the ones from the night before. Take a full lunch break, do not eat at your ‘desk’. If you have a family at home eat lunch with them, touch base and make a plan for the second half of the day.
Designate a workspace. Do not work where you sleep and do not sleep where you work. If you do not have a desk, set up a workstation on your kitchen table. Having a flat surface and a good chair is essential.
Avoid isolation. This tip may seem counter intuitive due to the call for social distancing. However, pure isolation can be very difficult for those that are used to a bustling office. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Stay connected with peers and team members. Don’t be camera shy, as uncomfortable as it may be at the beginning, face-to-face interaction is vital. Utilize technology tools such as Skype, Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams or whatever technology platform IPS uses.
Understand that there will be distractions. Anyone working from home inevitably gets distracted, and it's even more difficult if you have a family also quarantined at home due to COVID-19. However, try to address the distractions well, take 5 minutes to decompress, get up and stretch, grab your second cup of coffee. It is okay to take advantage of being at home, make a sandwich, touch base with your spouse, just return to work in an efficient and deliberate manner.
Stay healthy. Get up and move. If you usually head to the gym before work and your gym is now closed, stream a workout video before work. As mentioned above, stick to your routine as much as possible. Avoid snacking. Your home office is close proximity to your refrigerator and pantry, avoid constant snacking as tempting as your quarantine snacks may be, make yourself something great for lunch and stick to your meals.
Get outside. This will help both your physical and mental state. A quick 20 minutes is all it takes to help overall well-being.
Stay motivated. Create a to-do list each morning or note how much work you hope to get done in a given day. If you do not have current performance management measures in place, keep records of what you do, then see if you can top your personal best from day today. • Set personal goals. Then try to beat them. Use quick home chores as motivation, finish a task before the load of laundry is finished. • If you notice that something isn’t working for you, change it.
Stay positive. Without face to face interaction tone can be harder to translate. Be intentional about your communication. Something as simple as exclamation points can signal friendliness and enthusiasm, even when you don’t feel that way! This is uncharted territory for a significant amount of the country’s workforce. In a time of uncertainty, it is important to remember that you are not alone!
While some positions within IPS may already be accustomed to remote work, others may be working at home for the first time. We recognize that all job positions are meant to work from home however, shifting to the ‘home office’ may become the new normal for many of us for a while. Following the steps above will help to flatten the remote work learning curve and ensure a more productive experience in your new work environment.