When you picture your ideal working from home scenario, you might be thinking of a quiet home office, next to a brightly lit window, and an appropriately arranged bookshelf in the background.
The reality for some of us can be something far different: a shared kitchen table (whether it be kids, pets or housemates), a dimly-lit living room or even make-shift tables (ironing board, anyone?) may be all too familiar.
While some of us have adjusted to this ‘new normal’ it isn’t easy. Slow internet connections, interrupted video calls and the endless balancing act of life and work. Top that with the uncertainty of the pandemic and lockdown frustrations – it’s no wonder that 67% of people have experienced stress more often since the start of the pandemic.
Now that more of us are working from home, we’ve identified six ways you can better manage your mental health and wellbeing.
1. Go for a walk
It might sound cliché but going for a walk has been known to improve mood. Research found that even a short burst of 10 minutes’ brisk walking increases our mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
Need to pick up essentials? Try walking or cycling, rather than using a car or public transport if you can. Even leaving the house to walk round the block during your lunch break can make a big difference.
2. Set boundaries
Try to follow a routine and build structure into your day, such as moving away from your work area to make time for lunch. You might be tempted to stay logged on when your home is your office, but try to switch off when the work-day is over, rather than dipping into emails or continuing past your normal working hours. This may help create healthy boundaries between work time and personal time.
If you find that your workload is unmanageable and you are continuously expected to work longer hours, then you should raise this with your line manager as soon as possible.
Try to eat well and stay hydrated. Research by Harvard University found that drinking water can cause a large surge in dopamine levels; natural chemicals in the brain that can improve your mood and lessen anxiety. So, don’t be tempted to skip meals and always keep topped up on fluids.
4. Make space
While it’s not always possible to create a dedicated office space at home, try to find a quiet area to work, away from people and distractions. The NHS guidelines to set-up your workspace correctly is really helpful, if you stick to it as much as you can.
5. Keep a journal
Consider keeping a journal to reflect on how you are coping working from home. Ask yourself things like "What was I challenged by today?" In a week or so, you might start to get insights into things you can improve on. Soon you'll understand when you do your best focused work and the areas you need more support in, so you can address them effectively.
6. Be kind to your mind
It’s important to remember that you should never feel obligated to do something. Avoid being too hard on yourself if you don’t accomplish what you had planned. During such a challenging time, the best thing you can do is be kind to yourself.
Hopefully these tips will help you feel more productive and take care of your mental health during this difficult time. Need some more tips? We spoke to 7 freelancers and asked for their top tips for working from home:
Remember, what may work for one person or situation won’t necessarily work for another. Therefore, as an individual, you need to develop ways of managing your mental wellbeing so that you are able to be more resilient to both big and small challenges.
Topics: Mental health & wellbeing