Earlier in the week, I wrote that this is no time for the work-from-home sprints that we may be familiar with. The afternoon or even entire day, dedicated to finishing an important task – or just waiting in for a delivery.
So many more of us are home-workers now, in a way we’ve never experienced before.
The Office for National Statistics has said that two thirds of the UK’s workforce have never before worked from home. So that’s a lot of people who need to make a lot of adjustments.
And while there’s a lot of helpful advice on how to structure your day, maintain a helpful routine and effectively use communication tools to stay in touch, I want to also flag the relevance of a really important personal attribute: compassion.
Having compassion for yourself means, in a sense, taking care of yourself as you would a very close friend or loved one. You’d be patient with them as they tried to adapt to new circumstances, reassure them when they felt disconnected or anxious and allow them space to take care of themselves.
We can apply all of these principles to ourselves.
So watch out for that demanding inner voice that suggests you should be pushing yourself even harder during this crisis, or tells you you’re failing to keep all the plates spinning in the air. This is an exceptional time – it calls for exceptional levels of self-care if we’re all going to get through it.
So go easy on yourself.
In all likelihood, this disruption to our normal lives will last for months. If it takes you a few weeks to find your feet and get into a helpful rhythm, then so be it. If you find yourself having worrying and anxious thoughts, let them be. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re taking the situation seriously. It’s a sign that you’re human.
The last thing the people you care about need is for you to beat yourself up over how you’re handling a global crisis. Take care of yourself and you’ll be better placed to take care of others and be the kind of person you’d ideally like to be.
Your action: identify one form of self-care you can enjoy this evening.
Compassion for others
In a situation like this, it can be so easy to get wrapped up in our own difficult experiences (our worries, our emotions, our changed circumstances) that we forget about the other people in our lives. But at the same time, we have so many opportunities to express compassion for the people right now.
In the middle of this pandemic, it could be as simple as a text message to a friend or neighbour, to see how they’re doing. It could be offering to help a colleague who is also working from home fix an IT challenge they’re experiencing. It could be being extra patient with a colleague who is finding home-working more challenging than you, or whose own personal circumstances mean they can’t give the same focus to you as they previously did.
Compassion for others is so relevant, because we’re all experiencing a one-in-a-generation set of changes: to our wellbeing, to our economies, to our jobs and our workplaces. Expecting others to carry on as normal in this context is far from compassionate.
Your action: look for one colleague, friend or family member who you could reach out to today.
So take action with that compassion
Look after yourself, recognise the things you need to stay well and keep what’s going on around you in perspective. Compassion for self, or others, needn’t require grand gestures – just simple actions with good intent.