Keeping Mental Sanity in the Pandemic

Teachers also feel the strain of trying to keep their students’ attention and balance their work life while working from home during the pandemic.

Best Practices May 19, 2021

Life has changed drastically since October 2019 as working/studying from home became the norm in Lebanon due to civil unrest and then later the pandemic. At first this stimulated innovation in online classes, but more than a year later students are suffering pandemic exhaustion and have lost their motivation to study. Teachers also feel the strain of trying to keep their students’ attention and balance their work life in a much smaller physical setting. How do we meet this challenge in a way that encourages growth rather than exhaustion? 

  1. Keep a regular schedule. Your emotional and physical health will do much when you treat working from home just like a regular work day, rather than an extended holiday. Sure, throw a load of laundry in the wash during the middle of the morning or take a longer lunch break to cook a hot meal every day, but create a schedule and stick to it.
  2. Don’t answer work emails outside of your scheduled work hours. Change the setting on your phone so you don’t automatically get work email notifications at all hours of the day and don’t work until 11 pm answering emails. Ask your boss to call you if there is an emergency. This will help you to separate your work life from your personal life and give your mind a rest. 
  3. Designate a space in the house for work and only work there. Don’t sit on the sofa or on your bed. Assign yourself a desk, clear a space at the kitchen table if you don’t have one, but find a physical space and put a boundary around that space for work only. Once you step outside of your work space, leave the burdens of work behind and engage with your family or housemates on more pleasant topics. 
  4. Dress for success. Brush your hair, dress in comfortable clothes, but don’t stay in pajamas all day. You can always change after work hours are over, but the physical act of dressing for work helps you switch your mind to work mode.
  5. Treasure having more quality time. If you want to learn a new language, take up gardening, or finish a home improvement project, do it! But if you just want to sit with your family and play a game or watch a movie, do it without guilt. Find what brings you joy and make time for it every day. This will help you to manage the uncertainties and difficulties the pandemic has brought. 

Most importantly, be realistic about what you can achieve. While social media makes it appear that everyone else during this pandemic has learned how to bake Michelin-star desserts or lost 20 kilos effortlessly, the reality is that many people are just struggling with everyday tasks. Recognize there may be many unexpected outside stressors that can challenge you. Don’t worry about being more or doing more. Be immensely proud of yourself, affirm your achievements, and know that you are enough right here, right now.

Author

Maria (Lombart) Shajiei, MA, always vowed she would never be a teacher. Now the highlight of her week is seeing her fun-loving and unpredictable students who keep her on her mental toes. She is married to Sirwan and they live in Beirut, Lebanon, where she is the Executive Officer to the President of Middle East University.

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