The most recent government announcement regarding the Covid-19 pandemic means it’s looking likely that, for those of us who can, we will be working from home for the foreseeable few months at least. A recent Nuffield Health survey revealed that 80% of Brits feel working from home has had a negative impact on their mental health.
‘Not being in the physical presence of colleagues means many people feel unable to take a break and step away from their workstations, with over a third (36%) of home workers feeling as though they always have to be at their computer to respond quickly. This could be contributing to the higher levels of anxiety and stress people are reporting working from home rather than from their usual place of work’.
So how do we best look after our Mental Health when working alone from home?
Take a break
Scheduling regular breaks throughout your day is one of the most important entries you can make in your to-do list each morning. In your usual office environment you might take several work breaks to have a cuppa and a short chat with a colleague, so allow yourself to do this while you’re working from home.
Make sure if you stop for a tea break, or even lunch, that you drink it away from your workstation. Perhaps look out of the window or if it’s nice sit outside. Just 5 or 10 minutes of stepping away from your desk can make a huge difference to your ability to focus on your work when you return.
Separate Work life from Home life
Create a clear divide between your working day and home life. Try to find a way to mark the end of the working day. For example shutting down your laptop rather than leaving it on or open, switching your work phone off or closing the door on the room where you’ve been working. And if you must check-in after the end of the working day, try assigning a specific short period of time to do so rather than doing it continuously. Creating that mental headspace will give you the capacity to unwind and prepare yourself for the next day of work and will improve your work life balance.
Connect with your colleagues
Not being able to easily chat with work colleagues is a huge contributing factor to the mental health issues many people are experiencing while working from home.
So, if you notice that you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out and make a connection with a colleague, friend or family member each day.
Don’t forget that communication during lockdown doesn’t always have to be via a video call! Hearing someone’s voice is just as good a way to connect with someone as seeing them is, so if you’re feeling completely ‘zoomed out’ just pick up the phone for a chat instead if you can.
Practice Self Care
Be kind to yourself and try not to allow too much pressure to always be on ‘top form’ to creep in. Regularly practice some relaxation techniques like meditation and mindful breathing or download a mindfulness app to use at set times each day.
Exercise is also a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety as well as helping towards improving your mental wellbeing.
The best thing about exercise is that you almost certainly can’t do it at your desk! So schedule in a lunchtime walk, early morning Hiit session or some evening yoga to your working day. This will help to boost endorphins and give you both physical and mental energy.
Get some sleep
We all know that lack of sleep will make you feel more tired, stressed, less energised and more anxious. Yet, it’s also true that anxiety and stress can, in turn, lead to an inability to sleep well.
So make sure you have a good sleep and bedtime routine. Switch off your devices at least 2 hours before bedtime and use this time to start preparing yourself for sleep. Read, have a bath, do some gentle exercise, and generally begin to wind down and switch off mentally from your day.
Practicing a good sleep routine takes work but with time it will pay off and you will begin to feel enormously positive benefits to your mental and physical health, and your feelings towards working at home, as a result.
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