COVID-19 hasn’t just taken a toll on our physical health…
For many of us, adjusting to life in lockdown has meant learning to navigate the ‘new normal’ of working from home, every day. Although there may be many advantages, there’s no denying that this new approach to working has the potential to impact our mental and emotional wellbeing (especially if you aren’t used to working this way on a regular basis).
Here are some of our top tips on how to work from home, to help keep your mental health in check.
Get into a routine
OK, so there’s no denying that life is pretty different right now. In almost every aspect.
With so many rules and restrictions in place, it’s completely natural to feel like you’ve lost your sense of control. But that doesn’t mean COVID-19 has to take over your life completely.
Getting into a basic routine will help add a sense of structure to your day. Not to mention have the potential to boost your productivity – something which can have a massive impact on your emotional wellbeing.
A few simple tips are:
- Set your alarm as normal
- Set clear start and end times for work
- Give yourself a proper lunch break
- Use a tool like Trello to manage tasks (and keep a record of your workload)
- Take regular scheduled (and unscheduled) breaks from your screen
Oh, and actually get dressed. Because even something as simple as getting out of your PJs and feeling fresh for the day can really help improve your mood.
It’s important to try and set up a dedicated workspace. But it’s not just to avoid distractions.
Setting yourself up away from the sofa will mean when work is finished, you’ll be able to walk away. And with our personal and professional lives increasingly blurring into one at the moment, having this sense of separation is vital.
The same goes for the news, and social media. Although it’s important to keep up with current affairs, with so much uncertainty and negativity out there, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
If you can, set aside some time each day to catch up, rather than turning to the news constantly – and try to stick to reputable sources (such as the NHS website). Mute everything else, as well as anyone on social media you feel is negatively impacting your mood.
Finally, avoid the temptation to work extra hours, just because you’re working from home.
Because ‘switching off for the day’ should mean switching off…
Get out more
It’s not surprising that many of us feel so isolated at the moment. And we’re not just talking about those who live alone.
Even if you share your house with family members or friends, adjusting to being at home for the majority of the day certainly brings a number of challenges. Whether it’s finding somewhere quiet to work, or being able to step away from the kids and focus on a project.
To combat this, Mind recommends continuing to access sunlight and nature wherever possible. Whether it’s in your own garden, a local park, or just a walk around where you live.
Regular exercise is another great way to get out of the house, and the endorphins you release as you work out have a whole host of benefits – from reducing stress, to giving you a better night’s sleep.
So try and get outside as much as you can. Even if it’s just for half an hour every day.
Start a conversation
Unfortunately, there’s still a massive stigma around mental health.
However, as daunting as it seems, reaching out and asking for help is always a good idea. And you don’t necessarily need to be explicit.
Even if you’re not comfortable talking about your own mental health, just asking people for a non-work related chat can help break up the days. Not to mention keep up with some semblance of your social life. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t need another Zoom quiz invite?
Checking in regularly with people won’t just help your own emotional wellbeing either. Chances are, there are people in your networks dealing with similar feelings right now – many of whom would probably appreciate the chance to talk. Even if it’s just a quick ‘how are you’ message, to break up the day.
So whether it’s a close colleague, a friend, a family member, or even a complete stranger – the first step is simply to open up.
Finally, everyone keeps referring to this as ‘the new normal’. But the reality is, none of this is normal.
As a result, it’s completely natural to have feelings of anxiety and fear right now, for a whole host of different reasons. Whether it’s around your health, the wellbeing of family and friends, or your employment situation.
And working from home is just one small part of the wider picture.
So, if you’re struggling, be honest with yourself – and those around you. And if you don’t want to talk to someone you know, some other great resources to consider are:
- Mind – Mind provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Includes links to local helplines, online chat services, and a whole host of free crisis coping tools.
- NHS – The NHS offer a range of useful info – from links to lots of stress, anxiety & depression support services, through to their 111 helpline for anyone looking for immediate advice.
- Every Mind Matters – Simple and practical advice to get a healthier mind and get more out of life – from how to deal with stress and anxiety, to boosting our mood or sleeping better.
- Samaritans – Whatever you’re going through, you can call the Samaritans any time, from any phone, for free. They also have a free self-help app, as well as email contacts, if you’d prefer not to do it over the phone.
- Mindfulness and sleep apps (such as Headspace, Calm and SleepCycle) might also help you relax, reduce stress and provide a sense of focus.
Remember: It’s ok not to be ok.
Do you have any mental health tips for working from home? Let us know in the comments below, or message us on Twitter @reedcouk, and we’ll keep adding to this list.
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