It may have started as a bit of an oddity, but working from home for long periods can begin to change our mental health. Just as it is crucial to look after physical health during the outbreak of Covid-19, it’s also essential to keep on top of how you are holding up.
Some common feelings you might be experiencing are:
- Feeling isolated, lonely, or detached from other people both socially or professionally.
- Being unable to ‘switch off from work.’
- The struggles of staying motivated.
- Having difficulty prioritising your workload.
- Feeling doubtful thoughts about your progress.
- Insomnia and sleep difficulties.
To help combat this, here are some tips to protect your mental health when working from home.
Create boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’
Set a routine as if you are going into the office, with a regular start time, finish time, and a structure for your day, with breaks and exercise scheduled. This will help you maintain a healthy boundary between work and home life, reduce the possibility of work interfering into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day. Creating reminders, such as getting changed into your work clothes at the start of the day, and out at the end, can help with this.
Create a work space
Studies show that working from home can intervene with sleep, especially for people who find it tough to switch off work. Avoid working in your bedroom if possible. It will then become associated with being alert, awake and switched on.
Stay connected with co-workers and your manager with regular virtual meetings
Because everyday encounters with colleagues don’t spontaneously happen when we’re working from home, we need to be proactive in organising meetings and social connection to maintain positive relationships. Staying in touch with others will help reduce stress levels, feel less isolated, and remain productive. It also allows you to communicate with your manager or employees to keep them informed of what you’re working on.
Do a digital detox in the evenings
Technology makes it easier to stay connected 24-7, but the downside is that it can make it difficult to switch off, and separate work and home life. Try a digital detox to help you switch off from work, so you can spend time with your family, or do the things you want to do.
Try and get outside
If you’re not stuck in self-isolation, try to get outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy the fresh air.
Focus on the silver linings
Working from home can have many advantages. It can improve productivity, reduce distractions, reduce stress, increase work satisfaction, lower the time (and cost) you spend commuting, give you a greater sense of control over your workday, and can even help to avoid challenging colleagues!
Some helpful activities for sustaining a positive mental health
- Exercising, getting a good night’s sleep and eating well
- Doing activities you enjoy
- Staying connected with family and friends
- Controlling stress through problem solving, relaxation or meditation
- Thinking in helpful ways