In times of Corona: Making your stay at home productive and memorable

In many movies like the Will Smith starrer Independence Day, Roland Emmerich’s The Day after Tomorrow  and to a little extent even The Dark Knight Rises, the epic conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, we see a large section of the society under a lockdown. I have sometimes wondered what I would do if I was in their situation? Would I be making things for people around me better or be frozen amidst the panic?

With the whole world going into a lockdown because of the coronavirus spread, we are facing that rhetorical question much sooner than anticipated. But the world hasn’t stopped, it is just taking a step back.

India’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been exemplary, with even the WHO (World Health Organization) representative appreciating what the government and community are doing. The whole world is trying to flatten the curve and the biggest global measure to aid that is social distancing.

Governments  and offices are promoting social distancing in a positive manner by allowing work-from-home for their workforce. The employees who were already used to the work-from-home policy are thrilled.  Many of them are new to this and have several questions.  

Some questions are:

  • How to balance my work and family at the same time in the same place?
  • I am saving a lot of time, what do I do with it?
  • How can I maintain my productivity while working from home?

These and many more questions may come up when you are contemplating working from home for the next few weeks while the world returns to normalcy. We answer these questions with tips that can make this time more productive and enjoyable for you and your family.

Social distancing: the new normal

Social distancing is a measure where people are advised to stay indoors  for sometime till the vaccine to combat coronavirus is tested affirmatively. . To effect that, most of the workforce has been asked to go on leave and in many cases, work from home. Schools have been canceled, sporting events are either canceled or delayed, travel is restricted and advised against, and even local sources of entertainment like malls and entertainment centers are closed down. 

For the first time in history, this generation as a whole is asked to do the one unusual thing: slow down. Since the latter part of the 20th century, the whole world has been picking its pace of living gradually. And, as the third decade of the new century starts, people are so used to consuming the world on a daily basis that it’s a surreal experience for many to immediately come to a sudden halt. 

Times like these can either make one frustrated, lethargic, and cynical. Or this could be a great opportunity for you to disconnect with the world and focus on the things that matter - the thing that every self-help book suggests but we are too inline with the world’s pace to follow.

Things you can do to make your work from home experience valuable

The biggest thing you are saving while working from home is time. The time spent on commute, the lighthearted chit-chat that goes on with colleagues while working, and the delectable tea/coffee breaks that are placed conveniently either side of the lunch break. When you’re working from home, you don’t even have to move away from your bed. (Although, since hygiene is the best policy in the current times, it is best if you would practice your daily ablutions normally.) 

To start with:

  • Begin  that hobby, passion you always repeated as your New Year’s resolution: It could be learning a new language, learning an instrument, reading more books, or learning to cook. Whatever you had always wanted to do but couldn’t because the office hours were that taxing, now is the best time to do it. The world is going to normalize sooner or later and this is your chance to go back to it having gained something better for yourself.
    Governments have ensured that all grocery stores and places selling essential items are still running. If you don’t wish to go out then you can get even basic vegetables delivered. And, with an abundance of YouTube videos and tutorials teaching everything from languages to cooking, you can come out of this hibernation a delightfully skilled person. 
  • Spend quality time with kids doing quality things: Many parents complain that their schedules and even their kids’ schedules are so wrapped up that they don’t get to spend quality time with each other. Well, this is the perfect period to rectify that.
    And, you are going to have to be creative because the external recreations are closed down. People who are working from home and have office hours to maintain can schedule play dates with their colleagues. The children burn off energy while you get your work done. And, instead of taking breaks to consume coffee or gossip, you can take turns playing with the kids.
    This time could also be used to make your children learn essential life skills that they are going to need in the future. Cooking is one of those very essential skills. If you aren’t adept at it yourself then it could be a great learning experience for yourself and your child. This is the time to make those fond memories with your child that he/ she will remember you with later in life. 
  • Spend time learning/doing Yoga, meditation : As we have discussed before, yoga and meditation are quite effective in increasing your immunity and preventing you from contracting the coronavirus. This is a period where you are going to spend a gratifyingly long time with yourself. And yoga and meditation are two of the best ways to make your company more pleasant and enjoyable for yourself. 
    Nowadays, our lifestyle is such that even if we don’t contract the coronavirus, there are bound to be some lifestyle diseases lying under the surface. The extra free time that you are getting, use it on learning/practicing yoga and meditation. There are several yoga asanas you can do to improve your health and fitness and those interested in meditation can try out any of the guided meditations. Practicing these will leave you feeling recharged, refreshed, and have a much more positive outlook towards this enforced break.

This advised and in some cases, enforced social distancing can bring an unpleasant side to your experience if you allow it. It is understandable that when you are quite used to your routine and lifestyle, having to change it immediately and for an indefinite period can be difficult. You might not even know it and missing out on those small little idiosyncrasies of your normal day could be slowly affecting your mind. 

Things to avoid while you are waiting for the world to go back to normal

  • Getting angry with family members: With schools canceled and work from home enforced, you might have to spend a lot of time with your family members and kids. There could be extra noise in the house and you may have to give a little more attention to your kids/parents than you would have to if you were at the office. Moreover, it could be difficult to do concentrated work with all the distractions around you. This could lead to increased friction and frustration, causing you to burst out inappropriately in front of children or family members. 
  • You will need to constantly remind yourself that this enforced social distancing is important to save your health, the well-being of your loved ones, and for the whole societal health at large. Even though most companies are trying to function as normally as they can, the importance of this pandemic cannot be ignored. So, always focus on the greater good during this time and don’t let your mood or energy fall over minor issues.
  • Skipping meals: Many people are used to a company when they have their meals - whether it is with friends or colleagues. With work from home enforced, there could be a break in their normal daily routine. You may choose to delay your lunch and work during those hours, or take a nap, or miss out on the meal altogether. Moreover, as the days progress, a sense of lethargy and moroseness could creep in, bringing in a tendency to skip the meals.It is very crucial that we do not miss out on meals and also make sure that we are eating fresh, properly cooked vegetarian food. This is important for our immune system. Also, a dull mind will lead to a dull and weak body so make sure that you are regular with your meals. 
  • Picking up unhealthy habits: It is seen in many cases that frustrated people have a higher tendency of picking up harmful habits like alcohol abuse, smoking, and drugs. Even a minor thing like not drinking enough water can decrease immunity and make you feel low and lethargic. Usually, we rely on our social circle to keep us away from these habits. But, the world is facing a challenge and you would have to do your part to make sure that you, and your immediate surroundings, remain in the best of health.

The coronavirus is the first worldwide crisis that the present generation is facing. The response of the whole world as a collective, and India as a country, has been nothing short of exemplary. But the society is made up of the individual and all of us have to do our part so that normalcy returns as soon as possible. Following the aforementioned tips will not only keep you away from the daily niggles but could make this downtime more productive than you had ever thought. 

Try one of the guided meditations in this app and you will see a marked increase in energy and output for that day. 

Written by Suraj Duseja

Based on inputs from Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

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