Maintain your Mental Health while Working from Home
Working where you live is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you have other people in the space.
The combination of stress, fear and other strong emotions, and the demands of home and work life can take their toll on mental health. Here are some steps to help protect your mental health during this challenging time:
- ACKNOWLEDGE THE IMPACT
Working from home can be more challenging than it seems, so we need to prepare to be surprised at how difficult the transition is. Your home is filled with distractions you simply don’t encounter at work, especially if you have other people living, working, or trying to get school work done. As a result, it’s essential to be as patient as possible. This is not the time to expect perfection. You need to give yourself some time to adjust to the new normal, figure out your schedule and how to work effectively from home, as well as what habits and tips work for you.
- CREATE A ROUTINE
Many professionals recommends that remote workers create routines. While there may be many factors beyond your personal control now, including a loss of predictability, you can exert some control and familiarity by sticking to a schedule. If you have young or elderly people in your life, that predictability can be very comforting. So, get up at a reasonable time, get dressed, and have a plan for your day.
At the same time, don’t be too rigid. Try not to overschedule yourself and include breaks if you can. We have to be very flexible during this time with our young people, our elderly people, for taking care of family members, and then with ourselves.
- MANAGE YOUR INFORMATION INTAKE
While you’re home, it’s easy to check in on social media whenever you like and perhaps have the television on in the background. But the constant barrage of news is only going to elevate your anxiety and stress. It’s important to stay informed, but you probably don’t need to listen to every breaking news report, which just stirs anxiety throughout the day without adding anything you need to know. If you feel compelled to know what’s going on, watch a half-hour of news in the morning, then check a news website or two in the afternoon.
- RECOGNIZE YOUR NEEDS
If you’re feeling isolated or lonely, we recommends using group chats, videoconferences, and more frequent phone calls to get the connection you need. And if you are someone who needs time alone to think or recharge, discuss that need with your family and work on getting that time into your schedule. Also, pay attention to how your energy ebbs and flows throughout the day and try to schedule the best tasks to your energy level accordingly.
Trying to pretend that you’re just doing business as usual, but from home, isn’t accurate, and adjustments need to be made. Work with your team to identify essential areas of focus and save your energy for those tasks, meetings, and priorities.
- KEEP UP YOUR GOOD PRACTICES
While some joke about binge-eating or drinking to manage the stress, it’s more important than ever to keep up your healthy habit. Stay hydrated, get some exercise and fresh air if you can, eat healthfully, and avoid too much alcohol or sugar. Taking care of yourself in these ways is also going to have a positive impact on your mental health.
In addition, it’s a good idea to add some practices that may bolster mental health. Start each day with a gratitude practice, listing a few things for which you are grateful. YouTube has free yoga and meditation videos. Practice deep breathing exercises throughout your day.
It’s also important to monitor your mental health, especially if you’re prone to anxiety or depression. If your inability to focus or your feelings of sadness or being overwhelmed are making it hard to function, look to what has worked for you in the past. Reading, staying connected, or even remote therapy might help you cope in the age of social distancing. Check with your physician, insurance company, or mental health practitioner for remote therapy options.
Working from home has its advantages, but significant disruption and change can take their toll on your mental health. Be mindful of changes in your mood or behavior and ask others in your life to do the same if you’re concerned.