With the emergence of COVID-19 since early 2020, many industries and offices have slowly transitioned to remote working from their office due to the imposed social distancing measure by the UK government owing to the safety concerns.
The situation we are in is safe to say, never experienced by us. Along with the financial hurdle, the fear, confusion, burnout, and isolation can overwhelm even the best of us. While many of us are fortunate to still be working and get paid for working from home.
This unexpected change in our regular life when the line between work and personal life becomes blurry, it can be quite a challenge to stay productive. Apart from productivity, the transition can also take a giant toll on our mental health while working from.
Yes, working from home can affect your mental health
With the drastic decline of usual social interacting and apparent increased work hours, some negative impacts of telecommuting were not quite undiscovered, as the report “Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work” noticed the effects of working from home on our mental health particularly. It revealed that around 42% of highly-mobile and regular home workers deals with insomnia and stress.
It is now more important than ever that we deal with this unfortunate circumstance with a brave face and bring in some changes to balance our work life and personal life.
Here are 12 ways to boost your mental health when you are working from home
1. Arrange a dedicated workspace
First things first, make a decision on where you are going to set your office. Since you are going to spend a large portion of your day here, the arrangement is going to reflect on how productive you are without doing any damage to your mental health.
- Make sure the room is spacious enough or at least there are enough light and air flowing through the day.
- Get comfortable furniture, preferably the ones used in a regular office. Setting your office on the couch won’t get you to do much.
- Do not place your workspace in your bedroom or living room. You wouldn’t want to bring your work to bed or end up ruining your favourite show with work problems you couldn’t get out of your head!
2. Keep your workstation clutter-free
Neatness counts, especially when your psychological well-being is at stake. De-clutter your workstation to create a productive workflow. Your mind would find every nominal object interesting when boredom gets hold of the better you. Don’t give it more reasons to lose focus.
- Keep elements of distraction present in the room to a minimum.
- Put your office-related files or tools within reach, so you don’t lose your concentration by running around the room and looking all over for them.
- Keep electronic appliances like desktop, printer, office phone arranged in a way they don’t obstruct your other activity.
You can also put drinking water, coffee flask and some snacks by your reach when you start your office, but these can be a good excuse to get up often. In your regular office, did you always eat at your desk and get coffee served to your station? Exactly. The idea is to replicate your usual office activities to some extent.
3. Follow the routines you usually followed before you head to work
Waking up to the sound of your alarm in the morning, checking the notification bar, a little jog, making breakfast, get dressed and head for the office.
If this was your pre-office routine before the work from home situation, you should try to stick to it as much as possible. Waking up in pyjamas and clocking in from bed could seem tempting, but it might ruin the day in terms of productivity and as you grow a habit out of it, people will notice the drop in your performance and attitude as a professional.
Rather, staying with the routine will help you to get into a pro mode and set you up for a productive day in the office.
4. Control your snacking, eat healthy food
One of the major drawbacks of working from home is a less physical activity and the insatiable temptation of snacking. You get bored and feel like snacking. You are enjoying a task, time to snack. When swamped with work, you are urged to get some energy (snacking!).
While all these unhealthy eating can gratify your instant satiation, they are a risk factor for depression and anxiety. Not to mention the negative impacts on your physical self and productivity. Therefore, it is very crucial that you eat a healthy diet.
- Take your big meals in a timely manner
- Pick whole-grain foods, enough protein and vegetables
- Eat fruits for snacking
- Drink water frequently
- Watch your caffeine intake
5. Get some exercise done to stay fit
Along with our diet, our physical health has strong indirect cross-effects with our mental health.
As we are less likely to be engaged in physical activities while working from home, it is very important that you make some effort to get some exercise regularly.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be an elaborate arrangement. Running around the block for 20 minutes or some simple home workout will do you tremendous good.
For instance, you can check out this easy 10-minute home workout tutorials prepared by NHS.
6. Maintain your personal hygiene
Regardless of where you are, you should always practice some personal hygiene routines. They are essential for your physical well-being. In fact, personal hygiene and mental health are often correlated.
Basic personal hygiene tips
- Wash your hands frequently
- Trim your nails and brush your teeth properly
- Wear fresh clothes
- Take regular shower
- Keep your surroundings neat and clean
- Clean and sanitise your keyboard, mouse, and other tools you frequently use.
7. Take regular breaks to recharge yourself
Remember your regular office? How you would get up now and then to have coffee, snacks or run a casual conversation with a colleague?
Break room exists for a reason. And that is allowing you to recharge your mental energy.
Try to follow the same routine when you are working from home. Take a short break after every 50-90 minutes of work for about 10-15 minutes to refresh your mind.
Get some water, do a little workout, utilise the break to do reporting or reading something informative related to your work.
Take your lunch hour seriously and enjoy it.
Apart from the psychological strains and physical fatigue, you can also damage your eyes with Computer Vision Syndrome if you work at a stretch for a long period of time.
8. Socialise with your colleagues
Informal conversations are a good way to use your breaks. Check with your colleagues, team members, it will help both parties to relax and imitate a regular office environment.
These casual conversations will allow you to feel their presence and help to keep away from procrastination activities while working.
9. Avoid casual overtimes, maintain a fixed schedule
Working past the regular working hours while working from home often can seem like a good idea because you think it will show your boss how dedicated and productive you are.
Contrary to your expectation, it can rather be conveyed as desperate and insecure. Also, that you are not able to utilise the regular working hours productively.
While flexible work routine can be a privilege to have, it can also remove the sense of personal time. It also promotes procrastination and often leads to missing deadlines. And the eventual frustration, anxiety and fear of losing the job will surge up to add to the sufferings.
It is important to maintain a fixed schedule and fix realistic goals for the day to make it more productive.
10. Meeting etiquettes while working from home
For most of us, there are going to be more frequent meetings than it used to be when we were living our regular life. The one-on-one meetings, stand-up meetings, presentations, weekly meetings, reporting, and so on.
These tele-meetings may seem like a bore and time-wasting activity sometimes, but they are fantastic for team morale, especially when you are working from home. This is why it is important to make sure they serve a definite purpose and enable a safe sharing environment.
The right approach to meetings can simulate regular office atmosphere to make you more aware, purposeful and productive.
11. Create a personalised newsfeed
You know how the bad news dominates the headlines, and they spread faster than ever? And thanks to social media, we tend to start our day with them to set the mood for the rest of the day.
It continues to feed us negativity all day long as seek some distraction tapping through the feed, and they can have significant negative impacts on your mental well-being and overall productivity.
While working from home it is important to minimise our intake of such news, rather customise and control your newsfeed with something that brings you joy or on the subject you are passionate about. For instance, if you can personalise Google News to sports, music or technological feeds to give you some positive distraction while on break.
12. Unwinding yourself from work while working from home
Usually commuting from work to the way to home used to play a good hand in unwinding ourselves from work mode. Meanwhile, it is only a few steps or none from our work-life to personal life. Such a blurry line between them can make it difficult to switch off or change gears. After all, everyone is just a click away.
Here are a few tips to help you detach from work:
- Sign-out from the devices while clocking out for the day.
- Turn-off/ customise notifications for office mails and apps.
- Don’t force yourself to engage in home activity immediately.
- Take a few minutes to do something, for instance, scroll through an easy-read article to take off your mind.
- Freshen up, change into some comfortable clothes.
- Spend time with your family
- Watch a film, listen to music or read a book
To be able to work from home can be a bliss due to its nature of flexibility and the amount of energy it’s supposed to save. If proper attention is not given while planning your routine, there is bound to be some negative impact on your physical and psychological self.
Just basic self-discipline and habitual hacks are all you need to make your work hours productive and to ensure it has no detrimental effect on your mental health.
To get any advice or suggestions, you should from reliable sources. The UK Government website or the NHS website will provide you with the most up-to-date information when it comes to your physical health, travel and work.