[Work From Home, Day 17]
When we first hear the idea of Working from home (WFH) because COVID-19, it sounds fun: being able to work without having to waste time in traffic or jostling in public transportation. We don’t need to wake up in the morning which means we can sleep longer. It might also be possible to have more time with children and families, or there is an opportunity to take care of household matters that have not been managed.
Comfort-Zone vs. Stress
Do you believe that this pleasure will soon turn into discomfort? The reason is that we are out of our comfort zone. Wake up at dawn, travel for hours to the office, traffic jams, work desk, office friends and OB-made coffee, has become part of our routine so far and has unconsciously become our comfort zone. When we must be left all of that for a while, we are out of that comfort zone and forced to make a new routine. We who used to work every day in a quiet and cool office, now work at home, at the dining table, “cooled down” by electric fan surrounded by children noise who also must study from home. In the end, all of that will make us stress.
For those who cannot work at home due to the nature of their work, such as factory hotels and hospital employees, things also change: the streets are less dense, so they arrived at work faster. In the workplace, it is not as busy as usual, because some friends already work from home. The work volume also changed drastically (decreased for hotel employees and increased for hospital medical personnel). This also means that we are outside the comfort zone and again this can stress us out.
Things That Cannot Be Controlled
All of this is a form of change, which comes unexpectedly, suddenly, and beyond our control. These things, besides making us depressed, can also frustrate us because we feel helpless. If this lasts for a long time without certainty when it will end, we can enter a hopeless trap.
Therefore, the first step in dealing with stress like this is to realize that there are things that we CANNOT control, and there are things that we can control. Things that we cannot control for instance are rainy weather, broken machines, and traffic jams, while things that we can control are carrying umbrellas, contacting the maintenance team and looking for alternative routes. Work from Home can be considered as a situation that we cannot control.
Dale Carnegie’s Tips for Dealing with Situations Outside Our Control
Dale Carnegie in his book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” outlines several principles that we can use to deal with problems beyond our control and overcome our stress.
“Live in a day-tight compartment.” or we often said in our training, “live day after day.” We need to “separate” one day from another, so that we don’t carry the burden of yesterday or the fear of tomorrow, to today. When we focus on today, we focus on things that we can control so that we don’t feel helpless and focus on doing something.
The second principle is rather long, here it is: “How to face trouble:
Ask yourself ‘what is the worst that can happen?’” We must be honest about this because it will help us “tame” an uncertain future into a “certainty,” which is: the worst possibility. For example: if the pandemic continues, will unpaid leave be applied? Or is it laid off?
“Prepare to accept the worst (possibility).” When we mentally accept the worst-case scenario, we become calmer and more able to think.
“Try to Improve on the worst.” This is the time for us to evaluate, create options, make decisions and finally, act. In the end, there are still things that are in our control and thus reduce our anxiety.
“Remind yourself of the exorbitant price you can pay for worry in terms of your health.” Therefore, stop worrying. When we do worry, remember the first step above. Worry or not is a choice, and to stop worrying is a decision. We don’t need to wait for the problem to end to be able to stop worrying. Instead, let’s stop worrying so we can solve our problem.
These three principles are simple, but effective for dealing with anxiety and stress. Therefore, Dale Carnegie calls it the Fundamental Principles for Overcoming Worries. The essence is that in every problem, even what feels like it’s out of our control, there are always things that we can control. If we focus on that, then we can focus our energy on solving the problem and not throw it on excessive worries.
“… the best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate will all your intelligence, all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.”
JOSHUA SIREGAR Senior Trainer, Dale Carnegie Indonesia