30 June 2020

Corona Blues: Symptoms and Treatments

Buranond Kijwatanachai
AUN Programme Officer;

In the previous article on the effects of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, an open question was asked on what would happen if we forget our humanity in our search for the new normal. While the answer varies from person to person, from organization to organization, the core issue remains that the new working situation can and has caused stress and distress in people.

Imagine going home after a long day of work and sitting down to relax with a nice movie that you have been looking forward to. Just as the first act is about to finish and the real story about to take off, you hear a familiar ring and buzz. You take a peek, maybe it is a friend asking you out for the weekend. But it is not. It is work. And it is critical. Suddenly, the movie you were just watching does not engage you anymore. You desperately try to relax because it is your time off, but the sinking feeling remains because you cannot help but try to figure out ways to solve the problems at work. Distracted as you are, you decide that maybe you will watch your movie tomorrow after work is done. Then tomorrow arrives and you sit down again for the same movie. But this time before you even hit resume, you already feel that dread. What if I have to stop watching again because of a text from work? Suddenly, anything relaxing you try to do all ends up piling on the stress. This is one such symptom of the “corona blues”.

Without the boundary that had previously existed, work is now poisoning the oasis of leisure time. Even if one does not experience stress to the degree described above, it remains that without proper boundaries, one is at risk of being wound up all the time and ultimately crash.

There is no silver bullet solution. As mentioned above, answers will vary. But what we can provide is something we have employed that has been helpful in discovering and diagnosing the problems. And if we know what the problems are, we are that much closer to solving them.

As an organization that has seen the necessity of adaptability in the 21st century, the AUN Secretariat regularly has conversations about reflecting and reviewing plans, policies, and decisions. In the right atmosphere, particularly one of learning, an open and honest discussion can be had about the improvements that can be made to the current working situation which will include anything that has brought dissatisfaction recently. How you decide to proceed from there is up to who you are as an organization and what your people are like. This is about avoiding complacency and taking ownership of your own happiness.