Feeling burned out and anxious is natural in times of distress. We were fortunate to talk surviving the pandemic with a licensed psychologist and CityCentral member Dr. Annette Helmcamp.

In a relatively short time, COVID-19 has proven to be an incredibly disruptive force for an overwhelming percentage of our community. In this time of uncertainty, CityCentral is dedicated to addressing the concerns of our community and uplifting our members. As a part of our Community Over Everything Campaign, we aim to provide our community with advice on managing the current situation by giving a platform to those members who feel emboldened to lend their insight. Today we have been fortunate enough to talk with Dr. Annette Helmcamp, who would like to lend her expertise on coping with an isolated work environment.

Dr. Annette Helmcamp is a licensed psychologist and CityCentral member working out of the Plano office. Dr. Helmcamp has been practicing for more than twenty-two years since receiving her doctorate in psychology from the University of North Texas. Her practice works primarily with adults, providing counseling services to help cope with issues of anxiety and depression. Given the amount of stress COVID-19 has placed on many within the community, Dr. Helmcamp felt it prudent to lend her advice on navigating the work/life balance when working from home.

Lockdown Tip #1: Maintain Your Regular Routine

It is certainly tempting to sleep in a bit while working from home, but ultimately that divergence from routine can exacerbate some of the feelings of uncertainty being felt by remote workers. For many people who now find themselves working remotely, there is a struggle in creating an environment conducive to work productivity without sacrificing the typical comforts one needs in the home. Dr. Helmcamp insists on creating a schedule that closely resembles the traditional work schedule. "Mimic somewhat of a work schedule that you may have had when you were going into the office." Waking up at the same time, getting to work at the same time, taking lunch, etc. all contributes to creating a work environment within the home and promote a level of normalcy. Additionally, Dr. Helmcamp was quick to point out that other members of the community have already developed strategies for helping keep themselves in a healthy routine including; going on a morning walk to simulate the commute, take regular breaks, and end your workday when you would leave the office.

Of course, as with most things, creating a routine becomes exponentially more difficult with children involved. During these times, parents are under an inordinate amount of stress. Schools have also released kids to study from home and while most have incorporated some level of online education and engagement, the presence of children can always compound the stresses of a remote workspace. This is especially true for parents of elementary or pre-school children. Dr. Helmcamp’s advice is to try to map out a routine the children can adhere to as well. This includes concretely establishing hours of the day meant for education, designating work areas for the children separate from work areas for the parents, and similar to work routines, and adhering to what would be normal breaks in the child's school day. Dr. Helmcamp also suggests if it is at all possible to have partners trade off on who is overseeing the child's educational routine each day. Remember that these are stressful times for everyone, including the children.

Lockdown Tip #2: Take a Moment to Breathe

Paramount to all else is maintaining one’s mental health. While outlining and adhering to a routine is a great way to reduce work-related stress while working remotely, it is essential to manage the general stress of this situation by remembering to take time to decompress. Dr. Helmcamp stresses the importance of engaging in a relaxing hobby whether it be active like gardening, or passive, such as reading something other than the news. She also suggests moments of meditation or complete downtime. Personally, Annette has made the most of her time at home by enjoying walks with her teenage daughter. The activity allows them the opportunity to engage with one another, get some exercise, and enjoy the outdoors.

Lockdown Tip #3: Focus On Positives

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the stress and magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis. However, Annette would rather focus on the resiliency she has seen in the community. "I'll see neighbors hollering 'Hello!' from across the street to each other. Talking at a distance and really trying to stay connected as a community." Dr. Helmcamp also emphasizes the need for us to reach out to one another, to keep in touch with our co-workers, to engage with our families; anything we can do during this time to reduce stress and create a strong sense of community. Take everything one day at a time.

Closing Thoughts  

In closing, Dr. Annette Helmcamp would like all members of the community to focus on reducing their stress and managing their anxieties related to the COVID-19 situation. She repeats time and time again that this situation is temporary, and while much of our anxiety stems from a lack of knowing how long the situation will persist, if we remain connected to our community we will persevere through this. CityCentral would also like to encourage the community to take care of themselves both mentally and physically. Continue listening to the CDC, continue practicing social distancing, and most importantly, continue supporting each other. We are all in this together and we will remain a community that looks to empower one another.

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