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How to stay positive and resilient while working from home

March 27, 2020
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Originally posted from SFU News 

As governments and health authorities enforce stricter physical distancing and quarantine measures, many continue to work within the confines of their homes.

Psychology professor Lara Aknin researches prosocial behaviour, well-being, happiness and social relationships at Simon Fraser University. She shares some advice and recommendations on how to maintain resilience and remain happy during these challenging times.

Practice gratitude and prosocial behaviour

Generous spending on others is one of the top predictors of happiness around the world. Our forthcoming study further reinforces that giving instills feelings of happiness and greater well-being. Even as we acknowledge and accept that these are uncertain times for everyone, we need to remind ourselves how fortunate we are to live and work in a safe and secure place. Not everyone has access to safe shelter or food sources. Many are dealing with the pandemic on the frontlines, putting themselves in harm’s way. Others have friends or family members in vulnerable positions who are struggling with COVID-19. For those of us staying at home, it is not an easy adjustment, but we should realize how lucky we actually are, and know that anxiety is a very reasonable response.

You can contribute in different ways to your community by making online donations to food banks or restaurants that are providing food to first responders. Buy a gift card for local businesses, coffee shops, restaurants or stores in your neighborhood that might be struggling. It is also important to reframe working from home as a prosocial act, wherein one should stay at home not only to protect oneself, but to protect others. 

Maintain a daily routine

Most of us are used to following a set routine every morning before heading out the door, which provides a sense of predictability and control in our daily lives. Being forced to change that in the wake of COVID-19, as many of us work from home, can be a little unsettling and confusing. Following a daily schedule, which doesn’t have to be rigid, can be grounding.

Get some exercise

The imposition of stricter quarantine protocols going forward would not be surprising, which is why it’s crucial to maintain good health. Exercise does not necessarily need to take place outside. It could involve something as simple as practicing yoga at home or joining exercise classes online. Some people have been taking part in virtual dance parties. Most importantly, physical exercise helps alleviate stress, releases positive chemicals, such as serotonin into your brain.

“Distant socialising”

We need to keep our physical distance from one another, but we now live in a world where there are numerous ways to connect with other people virtually. Many people have joined virtual wine clubs, or similar online group activities. We can continue to be connected despite being physically apart.

Beyond the article:

Apps, such as Nextdoor allow you to connect with people in your immediate neighborhood, who might need help.

Follow #COVIDkindness on Twitter for heartwarming stories and anecdotes of how people are helping one another through these testing times and reaffirming the resilience of the human spirit.

Listen to The Happiness Lab podcast for how to be happy and resilient in a post-COVID-19 world.