CENTRAL, Texas — With local COVID-19 cases rising and most people working at home, professional counselor Jeffery Chupik told 6 News it is normal for people to feel some anxiety, stress, and mood changes. The good news is, there are ways people can prevent the situation from affecting their physical and mental health.
Below are a few reasons this new normal in central Texas might be getting to you, and what you can do about it.
Lack of exercise
If your job involves walking around a work site, going out in the field, or even walking around the office, sitting inside your house in front of a laptop all day can definitely affect your health. Adjust for this by fitting more exercise into your day.
"I tell people if you can get out and walk around your block, or walk around your neighborhood, that's a great way to exercise as long as you can social distance," Chupik said.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but both the Bell County and McLennan County stay at home orders list "engaging in outdoor activity" under "Essential Activities" for residents. Both documents list "walking, hiking, and biking" as examples of outdoor activities. Counties and cities are warning people who chose to go out to parks and get fresh air to maintain six feet from other families, but going to those parks is still permissible, and a great option when trying to stay healthy.
"There is something about outdoor exercise that is even more helpful, whether it be in your backyard or a neighborhood or to a park," Chupik said.
Lack of socializing, self isolation
With many people working from home and no longer seeing friends or co-workers on a daily basis, it can become easier to end up isolating oneself. Chupik tells 6 News that lead to anxiety or depression.
"Isolating oneself can always have negative implications," Chupik said. "You want to try to get out and interact with people, but when you are self-distancing you have to do it in unique ways."
Chupik said people need to make an effort to spend more time on FaceTime, other video chat options, messaging boards, and good old-fashioned phone calls.
Companies can set up messaging systems and video meetings so staff is able to stay better connected to one another and still be able to interact throughout the day.
"Humans are social beings and we have a need to interact with each other and communicate and feel belonging," Chupik said. "When that gets cut of your anxiety and stress go up."
Losing your routine
People might enjoy their new at-home comforts during the workday at first, but it could hurt your productivity and make it hard to feel "done" with work at the end of the day. Keeping to your regular work routine and keeping personal time and work time clearly separated will help keep people motivated.
"It's easy to get into that mode working from home where you get up, put your pajamas on, and work in that mode," Chupik said. "A healthier thing to do would be to get up like you are going to work, take a shower, get dressed, get dressed in work cloths. Get up and go to work in your home."
Chupik said blurring the lines between your work life and home life can turn work into an all-encompassing problem that you can't disengage from.
Missing out on quality time with family
Working at home could mean spending a lot more time around your family, but that is not the same thing as spending time with the family. Chupik told 6 News people should get work done separate from the family and then spend quality time around them later on.
"When you are working remotely and you are done, spend time with members of your family. A lot of times we take it for granted," Chupik said. "This is a great time to bring household members together and do more together, whether it be watch a movie or playing dominoes."
Finally, Chupic said if obsessive anxiety, depressed mood, uncontrollable stress, panic or grief is causing a major disruption in your life, you should consider talking to a mental health professional. People who don't have close family members or friends they can still connect with may want to contact a heath professional as well during this time.
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