I have been sitting at my desk staring at a blank document for over a week now. I am supposed to be writing about building a self-service culture and a host of other topics but it feels like a sin to talk about anything apart from the Coronavirus at this point. I pretended to be an ostrich and stuck my head into the sand hoping that when I emerge things may have changed. Yet, given the accelerated rate of the situation, it looks like the virus is here to stay. And I can’t keep my head in the sand forever especially given how it’s impacting every being around the world. Staying indoors is the new normal and working from home is not necessarily everyone’s favorite cup of tea. Whatever said and done, this phase is going to change the ‘future of work’ and enough has been said about that. The scarier part is the impact on mental health and not enough people are talking about it.
Never before has there been an environment more conducive to harbor dark thoughts and do so in isolation. It is easier when you are holed up with family (I assume); it is exponentially harder if you stay in an empty house and depend on a social life to get you through the weeks (me). It is now Day 5 of being stuck indoors and I can already feel myself sinking. Therefore, I am on the search for ways to pull myself out of the slump and as I wait for this episode of Black Mirror to end, I intend to use this time to achieve all the goals I have been pushing for later.
While I go goal conquering, here are a few things that I have discovered that can slowdown the isolation depression:
- Virtual lunches/coffee with the team and friends: I have never done this before and it in no way replaces in-person interactions but it is vastly better than nothing. I am starved for conversation and with modern day conversations moving to chats and emails, isolation depression is a given. I am now picking up the phone to call people more than I ever have. I am also exploiting the wonderful functionality of video calling. However, when my team began to do VC lunches/coffee, my happiness rose quickly from rock bottom to maybe 10ft below sea level.
Another twist I discovered today are VC awards that one of my teams have come up with. This includes surprise awards for Most Interesting VC Backdrop, Most Interesting VC Hair and Most Interesting VC Outfit. Needless to say, the submissions gave me a fair few chuckles.
- Make a Corona bucket list: I expected sitting at home to lead to more time. On the contrary, the constant firefighting (HRs are busiest at the times of crisis) has given me little to no time to do things I want to. All leftover time is spent moping and lamenting on the situation. Since I don’t expect things to get better within the next 30 days (extreme pessimism? Or realism?), I am putting together an April bucket list. It is a push to finally getting around to doing things I have never thrown myself at before. As prep, I pulled out an ancient guitar and discovered a fair few strings broken so I have shifted my attention to the keyboard. If you ever walk by my house, you may hear me striking random keys at odd hours. Hey! It is a start.
- Long/short walks: Now this I am conflicted over. I assumed walks to the beach were acceptable but I am being targeting so I pulled out my yoga mat but apart from it getting in the way, it has not served much purpose. I need my walks. Should I really stop? I don’t know the advisory on this. Maybe I will just walk around in circles at home.
- #Togetherathome: And this takes the cake! I sat through the 30-odd minute live at- home concerts attempted by Chris Martin, John Legend, Charlie Puth and loved them all. I stalk Instagram all day in the hunt for other musicians taking up the challenge and am half-tempted to record my own. I know mine will sound like a cat yowling at the wind, but 30 minutes of that can’t be all that bad. Can it? Should I try?
P.S: This blog is going to look less, less like an HR blog, and more like a survival blog over the next few weeks. I intend to start an isolation diary series of sorts talking about how I am personally getting by. It is going to be tiny paragraphs or two every couple of days. Maybe you could add your own paragraphs in the comments. #solidarity
P.P.S: I promise HR specific pieces every now and then; whenever I pull myself out of the slump. I know I have editors hounding.
P.P.P.S: Remember my 30-day challenge of using technology less? Absolutely the wrong time in life to take something like this on. Clearly, I am not prophetic.