How to manage your mental health working from home
There are some perks to working from home we can all enjoy (bye bye commute!).
Everyone is different and that will mean you may be enjoying working from home or you may be finding it difficult. Take time to acknowledge how you are feeling and any changes you are experiencing.
Did you think you would be going into the workplace, meeting colleagues in person, having the opportunity to work shadow? Pay attention to your mental health and any warning signs you may notice.
This may be a temporary or permanent shift (though remote work is undoubtedly going to become more popular as the years go on). It’s important to learn how to stay mentally healthy while getting your job done. Also, remind yourself that you will have had experiences in your life when you have been working from home. This may have been when studying or working. Think of what has been helpful in the past and what has been challenging.
Strategies for working from home
1. Ask yourself the following questions
- What will be helpful for you to stay mentally healthy whilst working from home? For example, taking regular breaks, having a designated work space, balancing work hours and finding time to relax.
- Are there any situations that you have already noticed are having an impact on your wellbeing? For example, are you worried about finances, find it difficult to ‘turn off’ from work, or wonder if you are doing a good job?
- How might stress impact on your work when working from home? For example, finding it difficult to make decisions, being irritable, finding it difficult to focus on tasks.
- What has worked (or hasn’t worked) in the past? For example, taking regular breaks, good sleep patterns, exercising.
- What support do you need from your manager when working from home? For example, more frequent one-to-ones.
2. Break up your work day
- Break up the work day with movement. This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettle bells) or some lower impact movement like a walk.
3. Get a routine and stick to it
- Routine is essential, and it’s even more important when structure is missing. Sticking to a routine does not mean that you have to abide by the old standard 9-5 office hours and only take downtime in the evening. It simply means that you have a system for waking up on time, getting ready, feeling confident and getting your work done in a timely manner.
- Do not be tempted to regularly work beyond your contracted hours. Once you sign off for the day, make it clear that you have finished working.
4. Find ways to focus
- It can be very easy to lose focus when you are working from home. Write down your priorities at the beginning of each day and give yourself mini goals. Resources like the Pomodoro app are fantastic at giving you a structure for focusing and taking breaks.
- Do not beat yourself up if you are not focused 100% of the time. In the office you will take breaks for tea, and to talk to colleagues. Taking breaks away from the screen is just as important when you are working from home.
5. Look after your mental wellbeing
- Use Working from home; your wellbeing Action plan to help you
- Practise self-compassion and being kind to yourself. Change critical and negative language you use when talking to yourself into something gentler and accepting. Speak to, encourage and comfort yourself the way you would someone you care about.
- Allow yourself time to reflect and process your experiences. Have you experienced lots of change? Are you in a new working environment? Are you missing friends? Have you just started a new job?
- Unwind: it is really important to allow yourself time to relax and take breaks when working at home; practise relaxation techniques or mindfulness. Make the effort to keep your work and non-work life separate.
- Seek support: you may be facing or experiencing financial hardship, you may be struggling with your mental health, you may have experienced bereavement. It is important to express any worries or concerns you may have.
- Attend to your digital wellbeing. Turn off pop-up notifications and alerts on your computer and phone. Make use of ‘do not disturb’ or ‘sleep’ functions while you are working on tasks requiring concentration.
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