Self-care tips for telecommuters during the coronavirus response

As King County responds to the coronavirus (COVID-19), many employees have been asked to telecommute as a form of “social distancing” to reduce the community risk of coronavirus transmission. Furthermore, the CDC has recently issued guidance that everyone minimize time spent in large groups, and that immune-compromised, chronically ill, and older adults stay home as much as possible. While these strategies have many benefits, the sudden switch can throw off your routine.

Balanced You wants to support you in rethinking self-care during this time. Up-to-date information on how to protect yourself from the coronavirus can be found here. Tips on how to keep your mind and body well while you respond to the coronavirus professionally and personally can be found below.

Maintain boundaries between work and home life                   

As work and home environments merge, boundaries between work and life can become blurred. Unplugging is an important strategy for reducing burnout. To unplug as a remote worker:

  • Set up a physical office space that you can sit in when the workday begins and leave when the workday ends. Close your laptop at the end of the workday and leave it in your workspace.
  • Remember to take scheduled breaks, including meals, away from your home office space.
  • If you still struggle with turning off work at the end of the day, try walking into your home’s front door when the day begins and out when it ends, or dressing in work clothes during work hours.

Focus on your physical health

A sudden switch to a telecommuting schedule can throw off your food and exercise routine. Additionally, many people are now staying inside to reduce their risk of exposure to the coronavirus. To support your physical health:

  • Try an at-home yoga or exercise video. For inspiration, Balanced You has partnered with Vivecorp to develop a website of easy desk stretches and exercises that can be done whether you’re working at home, in the field, or in the office.
  • If you are able, make some of your meetings walking meetings so you can get outside in your neighborhood while you are on conference calls. 
  • Remember posture and ergonomics. Couches may feel comfortable at first, but will take their toll after several hours. 
  • Plan mealtimes, have healthy food available, and hydrate often. This will keep you from mindlessly snacking.
  • Practice good sleep hygiene. Set a regular sleep schedule, 7-9 hours per night.   

Take time to socialize

When you work remotely, you miss out on the social interaction that happens in the office. Now is the time to intentionally create a plan for continued socializing. To stay connected:

  • Spend time at home with family. Try a new game, build a puzzle, share a meal, or watch a movie.
  • Talk on the phone or video chat with friends and loved ones.
  • Transition work meetings from phone to video chat.
  • If you have a pet, take time to play with and care for them. 

Nurture your mental health

A virus outbreak can increase everyone’s stress levels. It is important that you are mindful of supporting your mental health during this time. To reduce stress:

  • Take a break from the news cycle. Consider journaling, reading, or watching something funny instead.
  • Maximize your focus. Regular telecommuters often cite focus as a major source of stress when they are first getting started. Pay attention to when your focus is strong during the day and plan your work accordingly.
  • Login to King County’s Making Life Easier’s online Stress Center to practice a short meditation, listen to soothing music, or learn Desk Yoga stretches you can do almost anywhere. (Username: king county)
  • Try therapy via telehealth. Many therapists offer therapy sessions over-the-phone if you are unable to attend in-person. If you already have a regular therapist, ask if this option is available. If you don’t have a therapist yet and would like one, check with Making Life Easier, or your insurance provider.

Do you have other healthy practices while telecommuting? We’d love to hear them! Please contact us at balancedyou@kingcounty.gov or (206) 263-9626

For more information, a list of King County employees’ Frequently Asked Questions regarding the coronavirus can be found here.

One thought on “Self-care tips for telecommuters during the coronavirus response

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  1. How do you keep the 6ft rule while driving a transit bus, opening the front door dealing with a wheelchair and people sitting behind the driver or across from the driver?

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