By now, we’ve all experienced certain routine changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maybe you’re working remotely for the first time or juggling work with e-learning while the kids are out of school. Social media platforms have reported increased use by all of us spending more time online seeking out news or any type of distraction from the news.

Many of us are striving for normalcy when normalcy is harder to find than ever. Who even knows what “normal” is anyway, right?

We need to embrace self-compassion and acknowledge that what we are dealing with will have a mental and emotional impact on the workforce. This will in turn affect our physical and mental health.

It’s perfectly acceptable to be stressed out by a global pandemic, and you’re not alone in feeling that way. Feeling overwhelmed can impair productivity, and that’s OK to some extent. There are a few steps to take to help yourself and others through these difficult times.

Focus on what you can control.

Controllable aspects of everyday life will differ from person to person. Stick to a routine whenever possible (maintain morning/nighttime routines, shower and get dressed for work, etc.). Try to practice mindfulness and stay in the present. Thinking about what will happen a week, two weeks or even a month from today can create more anxiety and stress.

Take a break from media.

This is NOT a recommendation to be uninformed. Many of us spend a lot of time online and on social media for work. With pandemic-related news and opinions flooding our screens, take a deliberate break from media (that includes social media and traditional media such as TV) if you start feeling overwhelmed. Don’t feel pressured to clean out closets, become Julia Child in a day, or do anything more than sleep, eat, and work just because friends are posting about how productive they’ve been.

Communicate honestly.

For employers, prioritizing internal communications with your own team is so important right now. You must acknowledge their feelings – that people are feeling angry, scared, and vulnerable about everything from getting sick to losing their jobs. Share health and wellness (including mental health) resources with employees, if available. Employees should absolutely utilize these resources in a proactive way. Now is the time for open and honest conversations, even if some topics and questions are difficult or uncomfortable. A healthy team is a productive team.

Practice physical distancing but stay social.

Many of us miss dining out with friends, family gatherings and hugs. Adhere to recommendations on sheltering in place but still check on coworkers, friends, and family with a simple text or phone call, or through platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts and FaceTime. Stay active by taking a walk, playing a favorite song and dancing it out, or stretching for five minutes. If even some of these recommendations feel overwhelming, do a little at a time. And get plenty of rest, even if that means supplementing disrupted sleep with a nap during the day.

These are just a few ideas to keep in mind while we’re all navigating the new “normal.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness has many great resources to help during this pandemic.

Most importantly, please ask for help if you’re struggling. Ask your employer, your coworker, your spouse, a family member or a friend. Focus on staying well both physically and emotionally to get through this.

At Chartwell we care about each other and our customers. We are here to help you with resources and guidance through these difficult times.