These are interesting times. We’re in the midst of a pandemic – a major challenge in itself – and to top it off, the majority of us have suddenly found ourselves working from home. While this might have some positive effects, working from home can also present a unique set of challenges we aren’t used to dealing with, especially when it comes to mental health. Maintaining a positive outlook while working efficiently and staying motivated can be tricky if you aren’t used to working from home.
That said, working from home doesn't have to mean falling into bad habits, simply because less people are around to hold you accountable. It equally doesn't have to become a time when you put too much pressure on yourself to do more and complete new goals just because everyone on social media seems to be doing so. The constant change in the world right now can be stressful for everyone and it is important to do what is best for you.
Below, I’ve outlined some tips on how to deal with the difficulties of working from home while protecting your mental health.
Set up a separate office space
First things first, it’s important to set up a space in your home that is designated solely for work. Even if you live in a tiny studio, set up a desk and chair to keep the professional separate from the personal. It's also important to invest in a comfortable, ergonomically sound chair that will keep you properly aligned throughout the day. Try not to work in your bedroom. That is your switch off space. Don’t confuse the two.
Get up every hour and get out at least once a day
It can be easy to feel stuck inside, especially when you’re comfortable in your own space. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to get up and stretch once every hour, and make sure to get outside, even just to walk around the block and get some sunshine and fresh air.
Also try and take a proper lunch break, like you would if you were working in an office. This time is vital to recharge.
Set a schedule and stick to it
It can be tempting to wake up late and work at odd hours, but your mental health and the quality of your work will benefit from setting a schedule as if you were going into the office. Plan out your day and then stick to those hours.
If it helps to plan things on paper then use a daily planner or use a digital calendar to allocate slots of time to specific tasks. If there are any tasks that you haven’t completed then carry them over to the next day, don’t let them take over your evenings.
Prioritise your health (mental and physical)
When you create your schedule, use the flexibility to your advantage. Plan and schedule workouts as you do meetings. There are some great free workout videos available on YouTube and Instagram at the moment, so make the most of them and get your workout in. Due to the pandemic, people want choice, convenience and engagement when it comes to their health & wellbeing – digital healthcare delivers on all of those fronts.
Online clinics like Numan can help with a multitude of health issues that you may be dealing with or have anxieties about. Don’t wait until things return to “normal” to seek help for a health concern. Doing something now will save you a lot of worry in the long run.
Create a soothing environment
By making your work area soothing, you can keep your stress levels under control. If you love scented candles, place them around your desk. If a beautiful view helps you stay calm, set up your desk in front of a window or within eyesight of artwork you enjoy.
Get involved in a virtual community
It’s important to have some social connection, even in the absence of co-workers. Maintaining healthy social connections improves your overall well-being and helps you stay motivated. Ask your colleagues about their weekends or use this time to forge new business connections, reach out to old contacts and see what people are up to. You never know, something brilliant may come from it.
If you have children, enjoy breaks with them
With many schools in the UK still closed, parents are facing a new challenge – working from home with children around. This can seem daunting at first, so it's important to regularly remind yourself of the bigger picture: being able to enjoy those moments with your children that you would normally miss at the office.
Taking regular breaks to play, teach or keep your children entertained can actually help with your physical and mental health. Just remember to leave your phone at your desk when you do so.
Sokratis Papafloratos is the CEO and Founder of Numan – a digital health clinic specialising in issues that affect men's confidence and self-esteem.