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To ease work-from-home stress, set boundaries


COMMON mental health-related issues that families run into at home are stress from interactions, lack of privacy, and inability to bond despite being in a shared environment due to busy schedules, according to counselors at the German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s webinar on dealing with the effects of the pandemic on family.

“There’s different dynamics when at home and when at work,” said Candy D. Mauricio, managing director of the Centre for Mastery and Life-Long Learning (CML). “Given that most are currently working from home in an environment exposed to other family members where we have a different disposition, that itself is already quite challenging.”

It’s important to recognize the family situation, respond appropriately, and refer to others for help if it gets too much to handle, she said.

“Even a hybrid work setup has stressful situations, such as arranging who is free to do chores or who takes up spaces when one person is not there,” she added.

Michael Lu, CML’s chief transformation officer and executive coach, recommended setting boundaries at home to deal with these issues.

“We have to practice boundaries at home, starting with physical space,” he said. “You can do this by zoning, or assigning people to certain spaces.”

Everyone has different sources of stress and also different coping responses to stress — and it all depends on whether one is acting as a child, adult, or parent.

Though it can be taken literally as in a family situation, a person can be more of a child with some people and an adult with others, according to the counselors from CML. This way of seeing one’s motivations can help determine how to address various dynamics.

“Based on research, at least one of these three is where all people are coming from,” said Ms. Mauricio. “They are the pillars of trauma, which make people feel [they are] not enough or do not belong.”

A parent, for example, seeks control and acts as a protector in order to get acceptance: “You are a parent in a situation if you often use the phrase ‘you must’ or ‘you should.'”

Meanwhile, a child feels they are not good or worthy enough. They seek recognition, achievement, and the validation that comes with it. The strengths of a child are creativity, spontaneity, and emotiveness.

The third type is an adult, who focuses on problem-solving and asking questions like “what is needed?” or “what’s the reason?”

“Adults analyze the situation, plan out the best solution, and observe the interactions,” said Ms. Mauricio.

Understanding oneself is required to process one’s feelings, she added, which then allows an individual to consider where everyone else is coming from.

Mr. Lu suggested an exercise of emotional freedom: “You can practice telling yourself what you’re feeling and that it’s normal to feel that way. Take deep breaths in between.”

Aside from reminding each other that there’s no need to be alone and that there are always choices in any difficult situation, the important thing is self-care.

“Self-care isn’t being selfish,” Ms. Mauricio explained. “It’s not about ‘me first,’ but it’s a statement where we remind ourselves that we are the first person responsible for the self, to make sure we can stop for ourselves in order to move for others.” — Bronte H. Lacsamana

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