In March 2020, I thought the pandemic would be less threatening by August; it wasn’t so, and we had to cancel our summer holiday. In November, I was sure we could spend Christmas with our sons in England; it did not happen. In December, I thought 2021 would be pandemic-free due to the rolling out of vaccines in Europe and some countries; wrong! Then, came the British, South African and Brazilian variants. Here in France, the 6 PM – 6 AM curfew was not adequate to stop the infection figures from climbing; so, the Government decided to close its borders for non-EU travellers. It’s impossible for my Aussie friends to visit me, and it’s unlikely that I’ll be Down Under for my sister’s 60th birthday.
I used to associate relaxation with watching TV and movies, reading and browsing online. Currently, these are not enough to chill me out. With limited human interaction, I have incorporated routines that make me jump and sweat in front of my screen (either TV or computer) alone. These passive and active activities disconnect me from my teaching (which has shrunk significantly since March 2020) and house chores, which is known as psychological detachment.
Ms Sabine Sonnentag has published an article on “Psychological Detachment From Work During Leisure Time: The Benefits of Mentally Disengaging From Work”. According to her, “psychological detachment from work during leisure time refers to a state in which people mentally disconnect from work and do not think about job-related issues when they are away from their job” (sagepub.com). Her research demonstrates that “employees who experience more detachment from work during off-hours are more satisfied with their lives and experience fewer symptoms of psychological strain, without being less engaged while at work”.
In other words, high involvement in one’s job during off-working hours means no psychological detachment that has ill-being consequences. You add poor working conditions to this equation, and you know what to expect — lousy mood, stress…
When we are psychologically detached from work, we do not have pressure to meet expectations, respect deadline, and face judgements regarding success or failure. There is a sense of calmness – i.e. state of being devoid of agitation and negative excitement.
What are your psychological detachment strategies? If you have not thought of these yet, it is never too late. Based on recent data regarding the new COVID-19 variants and the slow pace of worldwide jabbing, fighting this pandemic is a long haul. It can still get worse before it gets better. As such, there will be teleworking, homeschooling, social distancing, testing, quarantining, and job losing and seeking for a while. Stay safe.