Remote work and Anxiety

Welcome to the new normal, whatever that is where you are, for this particular moment…. I know that’s ridiculous semantics start to the blog but the “New Normal” won’t be normal for long. However we have picked up some material changes along this Covid journey we are all on. One of them is the New Normal of working from home. As an example, myself, I haven’t been back to my office since 3/18/20. I work in a capacity now where I do a lot of meta data crunching, analytics and budget forecasting. As long as I have the data I can do this anywhere and my company as deemed people like me to be “flex staff” that means I can work from home, indefinitely. I’m happy about this, but many people out there aren’t.

I found a good article here That discusses some of the nuances with working from home and a new anxiety paradigm around the issue.

From the article: “Just as offices begin to reopen or at least contemplate doing so, a new study suggests that remote work is taking its toll on our collective nerves. Nearly half (47%) of workers say they are experiencing anxiety because of remote working — and among those, two-thirds (66%) say it has crushed their productivity.

The findings, based on responses from more than 1,000 remote workers in a survey by the Omaha-based insurer Breeze, is yet one more bit of concerning news for employers already working overtime to stay on top of the well-being of their people as the pandemic persists. Among other findings in the survey, 52% reported depression, while nearly as many (46%) experienced panic attacks. As a result of remote work anxiety, 57% have sought out professional and/or medical help. More than four in 10 said they suffered from remote work anxiety because they were working too hard or too many hours — worried their employers might think they are slacking off. Of those suffering from remote work anxiety, 43% said they planned to return to the office because of it.”

That’s a big quote and it says a lot. Now the sampling for this survey was 1000 workers which is a decent sample but I would have preferred 10K then we would have some very valuable statistics. One of the things that work does provide you with is an additional social outlet which is now, for many of us gone.

When life gives you Lemon’s, make Lemonade

Now I understand there are plenty of negative social interactions at work, it is a hub for humans to get together and interact. For those of us with Anxiety, work places can be a very safe place to be. You have social rules, there are many rules of engagement, you have clear expectations as to your role etc. We can’t minimalize this as a benefit as many with Anxiety thrive in structures social environments and work is one of those key venues.

For the last nearly 2 years now that has either been removed or altered and that has placed many of us in new situations which is uncomfortable. The article does a decent job of illustrating the issue and providing some guidance as to how to combat it. Couple this with the “Great Resignation” and companies scrambling to fill roles and the work dynamic has changed dramatically.

Is this the “New Normal?” I don’t know but I do know that the upheaval caused by Covid 19 is going to be with us for some years to come. As individuals with anxiety it is paramount for us to find a way to cope, survive and thrive. You can do this, remember, one day at a time.

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Wisdom from the past, and present…

“Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.”
― Robin S. Sharma

Robin Sharma is an author who deals primarily in business leadership. His resume of companies he has worked with is not only notable but extensive. He is not a main stream name, many people have no idea who he is and honestly would never need to read his material. Like all good authors he, from time to time gives us a pearl of a quote. Let’s discuss it a little bit.

The quote itself is pretty obvious, how do we parlay this wisdom into the present? We are coming off lockdowns and travel restrictions and the narrative is “let’s get back to normal”. Do you want to go back to the routines you maintained prior to covid? Do you want to live the same year again?

Perhaps for you this is the time to continue the disruption of covid in a positive way. Perhaps changing your “normal” is a good thing. I’ve lived the same year multiple times, it’s easy because routine breeds comfort and comfort swallows time. Think of ways you can change your old normal. Travel more? Get a pet? Volunteer? ?

It’s a great time to change your personal narrative and not fall back into the old normal you used to partake in. Before you know it you will be 75, take me for example… I am closer to 75 now than I am 25. Don’t live the same year over again. Try something new, force yourself, who knows it might be the thing that at 75 you look back on and smile.

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Anxiety and Post Vaccination life

As individuals with Anxiety the Covid 19 pandemic has been horrific. It’s not just that there is one more thing to worry about, a virus that can kill, but it’s all the ancillary B.S. that came with it. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, social media fights, zealous government regulations, lack of government regulations on and on. No matter where you fall on the pandemic there was anxiety and stress everywhere you looked.

We now have vaccines, something that is way ahead of schedule. Most vaccines take years to get approval, like it or not we can thank Trump for getting it produced early even though the distribution was a mess. The point here is we have a solution to the problem. What now? What happens after you get the vaccine? Is it back to normal for you? Not by a long shot…. I found a good article here That discusses the issue of reentry, which is yet another pain point for those of us with Anxiety.

From the article: “The new guidance said fully vaccinated Americans can gather indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing. It also states those people can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one household without masks, unless any of those people have an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Those people do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms. However, the CDC still urges social distancing and masks while in public or traveling.”

It’s a fairly short article with a news video report attached, it is from a local news station not a national one. The point they are making though is that despite the CDC guidelines above, everyone should still be careful. As individuals with anxiety we have to be diligent about our triggers. As an example I am not fearful of this virus as many others are but I am respectful. I wear a mask, I keep my distance, I wash my hands I am mindful of other people.

stressed-out-woman
Anxiety is still spiking around the world.

There are many, millions who think this is all B.S. they do not believe the threat is real and they are vocal about it. Just as vocal as those who rail against those who don’t think masks are important. It’s just another flash point in the social war currently being waged in western society. We are all neatly placed into “us” or “them” and depending on where you go you’re either a villain or a hero.

Of course those of us with Anxiety? We are screwed either way because now as this clears up you will be exposed to more people and their cavalier attitudes for either side. I imagine for the next year you will still see people wearing masks even though many are vaccinated. Taking a shower at the gym? That will be interesting, how will that work? When will that be allowed? On and on.

If you suffer from anxiety be diligent. Stick to your routines and if possible get vaccinated ASAP. We are in the beginning phase of reopening and reentry. I know many places already have, but with a vaccination out there (3 to be exact) more and more places are going to open up and you might be triggered. The end of this is closer, and the isolation and fear are beginning to ebb. You are doing great, one day a time. Hang in there, things are getting better.

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Stimulus & Economics: Some basics & things to ponder

Yes, we are doing a finance piece today. As with every finance piece I try and do a disclaimer. This blog and this post are my opinions based on years of working in the finance industry. These are not meant to be financial advice but rather a perspective on what is happening in the finance world. Before making any financial decision consult several sources to make an informed decision.

We know that there is another round of stimulus on the way if you live in the U.S. “Trillions” a number that is thrown around a lot. Going to let you in on a little secret, there isn’t a warehouse full of trillions of dollars waiting to back up the stimulus. For lack of a better term, all of these transactions are “numbers on a screen”. As an example, you may have 10K in your checking account. The bank does not have 10K cash sitting in their vault with your name on it.

Cold Brew Ice Coffee, A great stimulus!

What does stimulus do? It provides money so people can spend it and stimulate the economy. You buy a happy meal at McDonald’s. Someone has to get it ready for you, someone has to make the ingredients, someone has to make the container for the fries… you get the point. That is stimulus at its heart. It’s not just giving you money, it’s the residual effect of what happens when you spend that money and how many people are affected by it.

The down side? The value of money decreases. Its simple supply and demand right? The government through stimulus is increasing supply. At some point there will be so much money floating around that it takes more to buy a product. If everyone has more money, why would someone who produces a product not raise the price? Not only that but the cost to obtain money, interest rates, have been very low for years (decades). So what does this mean? It means that the more money that goes into the economy (even electronically) the less valuable it is.

Why are antiques worth so much? Because there are fewer and fewer of them every year. Did you try and get a new gaming console this year? Hard to find right? And the price if you did find one, oof. Want a ticket to a football game? Not cheap right. You get the point, the less of something there is the more valuable it becomes due to demand.

What does this mean for us? First the short term effect is positive people get cash and can spend it now and then give that money to someone else. That is the best outcome of stimulus and it absolutely works. Sustained stimulus (2,3,4 checks) this is problematic because its necessary due to an artificial condition. Demand is there, but supply of goods and services are reduced due to the pandemic. So more money pours into the economy to keep people afloat.

What happens when things get back to the new normal and people are vaccinated? The money doesn’t go away it’s still out there, so you get inflation. For many of you under 30 you’ve never really experienced severe inflation. Prices go up, income stays the same. It’s very simple, the more of something that exists (material items) the less valuable it becomes, that includes money.

Always be mindful of your personal economy. 30 mins a week minimum you should invest in your budget, savings, investments, spending habits. Become an expert in your personal economy, make sure you are financially educated in how you handle money. The world will carry on, the economy will wax and wane. Things have been good for a while now, even with a pandemic and decades of government spending inflation remains at bay for now.

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