By now we're all aware of the COVID-19 outbreak and most of us are taking measures to help stop the spread of this new illness. This has created a lot of uncertainty and is forcing us to change how we are living our lives. A lot of us are taking measures to distance ourselves from other people. Some of these measures are personal choices - like self-quarantining. Here in Illinois, there have been mass cancellations of events. Schools are shut down. Restaurants and Bars have been forced by the state to close (except delivery and take-out) to stop the spread. Many places of work, that have the ability, are having their employees work from home.

On March 16th, my place of employment mandated that we work from home until the end of this month (edit: updated to End of May). We have always had the ability to work from home every-once-in-awhile but my employer mostly wants us in the office. However making this transition hasn't been too difficult for my company. For us individual workers it has been quite a change. I am going to note that I have worked from home with a previous employer but this seems different. On the first day of remote working I had to dismantle my entire office. That was just disconnecting my monitors, getting my dock, getting some monitor stands, making sure I have all my cords, pack up my mouse, keyboard, headphones, and notebooks and taking it home. Then reassemling in an extra bedroom. Thank goodness I have a nice desk and chair already!

What I was most worried about was connecting to our company's VPN to get to certain files and push out updates to demo and production servers. Since I was hired I never worked at home and therefore have never used the VPN. I had no idea how to connect. Thank goodness I asked but also leaders within my department emailed some FAQs and inviting questions and helping us if needed. In addition, I had no idea how we would handle our phone system. I learned how to forward my calls to my mobile and the company was working on getting support calls to automatically create tickets within our system. In the end all that technical stuff worked out.

However, because we have clients who are worried and are within industries that are important in this crisis such as health care and banking we were getting bombarded with urgent and high priority requests. So I was glad the transition went well so we could help our clients that need to put out important information out to the public. This is especially true for the hospitals we work with becuase they are on the front lines of this health crisis.

That all being said this whole thing is different than just working from home. When I used to work from home I would make it a point to get out of the house do do things like go to events, do meetups, sometimes work in a coffee house/cafe just to not feel so lonely. This is different becuase Those things can't be done. There are no events, no meetups, coffee houses/cafes are closed. There are no social outlets. When I get off work, I stay in the house. The only other options to get out of the house are to go to get groceries or pick up some food, take a walk, or maybe go for a drive.

Working from home doesn't remove the worry and anxiety I feel. Being alone doesn't help me all the time. It can drive me to ruminate - obsess about the things that worry me. A lot of different things are worrying me right now. That can drive me to endlessly scroll Twitter looking for the latest news on this outbreak or just think about the worst. Not having a lot of physical activity or interaction with people worries me. My anxiety also makes it hard to concentrate sometimes.

Generally I have things I do that keep me from rumination and ease my anxiety and some of those things I can't do like I have been. I have to figure out new things. What are some new things I can do?

  1. I can't go to the gym to do my workouts. However, if it's nice I can do many outside. I just don't have weights. I can do many inside too if need be. I just like the motivation of getting out of the house. Just leaving the house helps me get exercising. Now I need to find another way to motivate myself.

  2. I probably need to put a limit on socail media like Twitter. Most of the news and chatter is too much to process, is negative (trolls and bots), hyper partisan and political.

  3. Try to take things one day at a time. It's not helpful thinking about the future. With this crisis it's next to impossible to plan and anticipate what will happen in the future. Just focus on the present moment. So far the only way I can do that is to stay busy with something.

  4. Stay busy with something. Don't abandon projects or hobbies. I can take time to draw and do creative activities. I can work on the coding projects I've been working on. I can keep on learning javascript and other web technologies.

  5. Relax. Play games - puzzle type games that keep my mind active. Read books to learn or escape. Watch movies and tv shows (ones that won't stress me out). Go for leasurly walks outside away from others to get fresh air and sun. Listen to music. I have lots of records. Many of which I haven't had time to listen to. Play with my cat