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Staying Healthy and Connected in a Socially Distanced World—Round 2

by Jazmin Bonizzoni Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund | April 16 2020

With many of us now working from home, I think it’s safe to say that some of us may be struggling to adapt to this new normal. While introverts may be rejoicing at the opportunity to retreat to their home offices, that may not be the case for everyone. During this time of social distancing, you might find yourself asking: how can we stay connected with others and remain effective in our roles when we’re forced to adapt quickly to a virtual working environment?

Much like in Mary Jo Liew’s recent blog here on the Wellness Sandbox about finding balance while working from home, I wanted to share another perspective in a similar vein, exploring the tips and strategies I’ve found most helpful myself. I’ve always struggled with working from home and remaining productive. My pets seem cuter, my bed looks more inviting and home improvement projects seem to magically appear. Needless to say, the first few weeks of adapting to social distancing have been a challenge for me.

So, to help navigate this period of transition, I’ve done some reflecting and reading on best practices for remaining connected while working from home, and on caring for my own physical and mental well-being. Here are some tips that may help you, as well:

  1. Maintain your routine. For me, that looks like early morning walks with my dog, a quick shower, a pot of coffee and getting right to work. With no commute, this does mean I’m starting a lot earlier than usual, so it’s important to take this into account and take breaks to move!
  2. Take time to care for yourself. We all know that healthy students are better learners. It only makes sense that healthy employees are better workers. It’s easy to get lost in your work, but having scheduled breaks (and sticking to them) is a game changer. Get up every hour for at least five minutes—whether it’s to cuddle your dog, read a quick book with your kids, run up and down the stairs a few times or join in on the push-up challenge…the possibilities are endless! There are also YouTube videos with 15-minute yoga practices that can help re-energize your body and mind—and when all else fails get outside for some fresh air.
  3. Set boundaries. If you would have normally finished at the office at 4 p.m., unplug at that time at home, too. Respect your own boundaries and those of others. This also means that you shouldn’t use extra time to do work.
  4. Build networks of support. If you normally take a coffee break with a specific co-worker, set up a regular meeting time and continue your routine. This has certainly helped me retain a level of normalcy—you may have to be working apart, but that doesn’t mean you have to be completely disconnected. Make time to chat with your friends, family and colleagues regularly. They’re also adapting to a new normal, and it’s important to talk to one another about how it’s affecting you and how you’re coping.
  5. Take up something new. Keep things fresh by taking advantage of free online learning opportunities—from learning skills in business administration to an online introduction to psychology or even paleontology. Check our Coursera for their full catalogue of free online courses. YouTube is also filled with tutorials to learn how to play guitar, maybe try some acrylic pouring or just about anything else you can think of.

Navigating this socially distant online world may not be an easy feat, but remaining connected and prioritizing physical and mental well-being is more important than ever. Find a sunny spot to set up your workstation and make it your own—and if you have any tips on how you’ve been staying safe, healthy and connected, be sure to share them in the comments section below!

Jazmin Bonizzoni

Jazmin is a project facilitator for the Alberta Healthy School Community Wellness Fund—not to mention a music lover, (very) competitive gamer and passionate advocate for school health and health promotion. While she might not be able to shuffle a deck of cards (can’t win ‘em all), there’s not much she can’t do when it comes to helping lead school communities along their wellness journeys!