As someone who does an average of 50%+ of his work from his own office, being obligated to stay at home or work full-time from home is not a chore.
However, I do appreciate that many will find it boring and bewildering, and for some, it will lead to emotional turmoil or even depression or substance abuse. We define ourselves by what we do, and so our evaluation of who we are gets blurred in times of dislocation. So, as someone who loves to work from his home office, I thought I would share some tips. Most of them mundane, some of them spiritual: I write as a Christian, and cannot maintain the boundaries of my self-definition without that spiritual element!
Keep regular hours. Get up, eat meals, go to bed as you normally would.
Get exercise. I’m staying away from my gym, and so should you! But you don’t need the gym. If you are not under quarantine, a brisk, daily 30-minute walk is excellent exercise, especially if you can do it while the sun is shining.
Rest and relax! Being stuck at home is not the same as “rest”, so it’s important to change the pace, and without guilt.
Don’t go to public places, just to show that you can! No-one will think you any tougher-braver-more rebellious-cooler-super macho if you go to a place that is unnecessary for your survival. Puzzle question for this week: why is it that, some people who hardly ever go out, suddenly feel compelled to leave the house during blizzards, pandemics, floods?
Don’t “kill time”. “Killing time” is an ugly phrase, like “burning $100 bills” or “throwing trash on the side of the highway.” Fill time.
Think of others. During times of plague, the church has often stepped up to do what others could not. I empathize with you that you have cabin fever, but doing good to others not only is a good deed, it’s also good medicine.
Reconnect with your loved ones.
Play with the family. Board games, or a talent show, or a karaoke night. Do a crossword together.
Spring Cleaning. Not only will you have a nice-looking place to live, but the physical activity of cleaning is an excellent medicine for the psyche. Good brain science; good housekeeping.
Call shut-ins. This is a great time to check in on the lonely, the elderly, the infirm.
Spend time cooking, if you don’t already do so. Great time to try some new recipes (I do most of our cooking, and am planning a slow-cooker taco casserole for tonight’s dinner).
Hygiene! Not just hand washing, but basic good hygiene is a key to fighting off cabin fever. Men: shave! Put on a clean shirt! Women: Well, I have no specific experience, so, just police yourselves!
Pajamas are for sleep, not for day-wear!
Turn off the news!! In the era of 24/7 news, the Corona virus is put in front of us every minute of the day. How hugely ironic is it, when a network gives you hour upon hour of virus news, and then runs segments on “Tips to avoid anxiety in the time of Corona!” Well, here a tip from Gary, one the news probably won’t suggest: Just turn the news off! Maybe just check it once a day for 15 minutes, I guarantee you will not miss a thing.
Stop obsessing over toilet paper, for goodness’ sake!!
Read! Some friends of mine are binge-watching TV – and I too put in my due time with movies! (“Aguirre – Wrath of God” the other night) – but why not read a book? Something that won’t make you anxious. Some favorites: Ian McEwan’s The Children Act is a fine story. Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder. Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep. On the other hand, Daniel Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year s probably not a good one for now, nor is Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera! If you have not read them, here are some favorite spiritual classics that are not too demanding: C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters; Packer, Knowing God; Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship or Life Together. I would imagine all of these are available on Kindle.
Now Brakes and now Gas Pedal. For some of us, it’s hard to put the brakes on (I love the work I do at home, so I have to say, “¡Ya, basta!” – enough already! – when it’s time to wrap up). For others, we need to step on the gas. If you are working for someone else, you owe them a good day’s work, no matter where you do it.
Distractions. Working at home might mean you have your laptop running and hooked to the internet. Self-discipline is one solution – checking your mail and social media only a few minutes at the top of the hour, for example. Another is to use an app to block internet access according to your schedule; Freedom is the program that I used at one time. A time-tracker app is also great for show how you spend your hours.
If it’s NSFW, it’s NSFH. That’s code for inappropriate websites which people call Not Suitable For Work, because you don’t want your boss sneaking up to see what you are viewing. It’s also Not Suitable For Home. And while I’m on the subject of NSFW, let’s take it up a notch: I work online with a group of young men and women who struggle with porn. Many of them are suddenly shut up in their home, totally isolated, and with full internet access. And some are freaking out. Here is a link to an article of mine that has some resources.
Bible reading. Read a whole book of the Bible in one sitting. You can read any of the epistles in that way. Philippians, 1 Peter, 1 John, James, 1 Thessalonians, others, all about 15 minutes each. Here is a complete list of books with time needed to read them.
Special times with God. Here is a Bible study that I found and highly recommend: take a section or book of the Bible; and edit it so that it is directed specifically to you. It’s easy to do with copy-paste-edit; then read through it later, even better, read it out loud.
An example from Colossians 1:
I continually ask God to fill me, Gary, with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives to me, Gary, so that I, Gary, may live a life worthy of the Lord and that I, Gary, may please him in every way: so that I, Gary, might bear fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, with me, Gary, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that I, Gary, may have great endurance and patience, that I, Gary, might give joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified me, Gary, to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued me, Gary, from the dominion of darkness and brought me, Gary, into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom I, Gary, have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Use your own name, or you can do this exercise using the name of your church or small group.
Anybody have further suggestions?
“ME?? Stay at home because of a VIRUS!?” by Gary S. Shogren, Professor of New Testament, Seminario ESEPA, San José, Costa Rica