For those in the Northern Hemisphere, winter is coming, driving us indoors, and for many, thanks to the pandemic, reducing already-limited opportunities to get out of the house and interact with other people.
All of us – parents, employers, friends – should be thinking about how to offset and mitigate the impact this extra level of isolation will have on our families, our peers, our colleagues, and ourselves. Here are some ideas to beat the Covid blues by staying positive, healthy, and connected – and helping others do the same.
Explore your interests
At the beginning of lockdown in the spring, our founder, Stefan Wissenbach, challenged the team to utilize the quarantine time to develop a new skill or hobby. Over the last few months, our team has been learning French, training for a marathon, and learning how to paint.
If you’ve not done so already, this is a great time to dust off a neglected hobby, tackle those books on your nightstand, or take one of the multitudes of online courses. Carving out some time for yourself is important, and having a hobby makes a person more resilient.
Our advice for actually making this work:
- Start small. If you make too much of a production out of your new pursuit, such as finding the right moment to curl up with that book and a cup of tea in front of a crackling fire, you’ll create obstacles that prevent you from getting started. Instead, simply make a point of having a book handy, and reading a few pages throughout the day when you take a break.
- Set small goals and hold yourself accountable. Make a note of when you actually manage to devote time to your new pursuit.
- Schedule time for yourself. Put in the calendar, in ink, just like any other appointment. Consider blocking time for yourself right after work. Resist the temptation to work a little later, and instead, shut down on time and devote that time to your interest.
- Recognize your accomplishments. Give yourself a star on your calendar or in your journal for every day you manage to read for 10 minutes, practice sketching, or take another course module.
- The “tiny habits” approach to developing better habits
- Tips for becoming a better reader
- Tons of free courses from Coursera, in-depth learning from MasterClasses and Great Courses
Work on your relationships – both professional and personal
Many of us are seeing and talking to fewer of our friends and family these days. The same goes for the workplace, as many continue to work from home. While it’s easy to retreat onto the couch, this moment requires us to resist that temptation and make an effort.
Those who manage teams at work should make a particular effort to stay connected and visible to their teams. The first few months of Covid-19 inspired a strong sense of unity and purpose for most workers, but that effect is waning.
Whether at work or at home, here are ideas for keeping relationships strong and intact.
- Don’t let 1:1 meetings and routine visits fall by the wayside. Lean into these interactions, and take time to ask how the other person is doing – really. Make a point of visiting friends and family in person – even if you’re sitting outside. If health concerns or abominable weather make in-person visits impossible, pick up the phone or schedule a Zoom call.
- Make reasons to interact. My own family, half of who could not possibly care less about football, take delight in a weekly competition to see who can pick the most winners for the coming weekend. Have a “hackathon” at work to solve a business issue. Start a book club, have a virtual cooking challenge (make the same recipe and compare results), or host a virtual game night.
- Spread some delight. Write some short notes, and drop them in the mail. Create some little gift bags or treats and get in the car and make some deliveries. Send a favorite book you’ve read to a friend. Organize your photographs, and drop extras in the mail to others in the pictures. Cater a breakfast for your employees. Point is -do something. Small gestures have big impacts these days.
- Here’s a 20-minute video on strengthening friendships during Covid. The gist: make every interaction you have with others about strengthening them. Bring happiness, and do it intentionally.
- 100 non-screen things to occupy kids of all ages during quarantine (filed under relationships, because many are group activities)
- Take offline activities online to keep pre-pandemic routines in place. Bridge groups can play using free multiplayer apps like Trickster. Watch movies “together” with friends using Teleparty (formerly Netflix Party) which syncs streaming and adds group chat.
Be intentional about managing your day (and help others do so, too)
Every day we make dozens of decisions that impact our health and mental wellbeing. To exercise, or not. To eat those sweets, or instead, have an apple. To stay up late binging the entire season of a show, or to prioritize getting the right amount of sleep. We all know which are the good decisions here.
However, there are other things we can do that can bolster how we feel throughout the day.
- The simple act of taking a walk in the morning achieves a number of important benefits, including getting a dose of sunlight that is invigorating.
- Practice gratitude each morning. Our founder, Stefan Wissenbach, suggests writing down three things for which you’re grateful each morning. Doing so is proven to elevate your mood.
- Don’t succumb. Step out of your comfort zone and try something new, such as yoga or meditation. Alternatively, tackle projects that will give you something to do, and make you feel great, like decluttering or finding a way to serve others.
- Invest in a light therapy lamp. Be sure you’re getting enough light to offset the impact of long, dark winter days. Light therapy can help those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, and bright light signals to the body it’s time to be up and about, even when it is still dark outside.
- Keep a journal, in which you jot down the things for which you’re grateful each day, along with anything else that moves your spirit. Effective journaling can have a powerfully positive effect on your mental wellbeing.
- Establish a healthy routine each morning. Consistent daily and weekly routines give you a needed element of control and provide reliable consistency in a chaotic time.
You may be thinking this article is really out of the norm for Engagement Multiplier – we normally concentrate on topics related to the workplace. However, as our work and home lives mingle, the insights and benefits we gain from an improvement in one circumstance can benefit us in another. Just as we now use Zoom for both work and play, challenge yourself, your teams, and your families to share how they’re keeping themselves motivated and connected during the pandemic.
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