How to look after your mental health whilst working from home

26/03/2020 | HR Team

The way people work has been changing for a while now, with more companies offering flexibility to their staff and setting them up to work from home. However, not everyone is used to working from home and with the emergence of Coronavirus (Covid-19), this has led to a massive change, more uncertainty, and new challenges for many of us. Over the past few weeks, we have been gathering some advice from the Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health UK about how you can look after your mental health whilst working from home (or self-isolating).

Please note that we are not medical professionals, this is just some friendly advice that you may find useful whilst working from home.

working from home

  1. Enjoy the downtime

If you are working remotely or self-isolating then you are cutting out some of the daily activities that you’d usually do (maybe the stressful commute to work). Why not use that time to have breakfast, relax and read a book, do an online yoga class or have a lie-in? If you start work at 9 am, use the extra time that you have gained from eliminating your commute to your advantage and enjoy it by doing things you wouldn’t usually have time to do.

  1. Get ready for the day

This may sound simple, but it is important to refresh yourself before working from home by getting dressed and ready for the day ahead. Staying in your pyjamas will not help with productivity and will blur the barriers between work and home, making you feel like work is invading your personal space which will only increase stress. Getting ready for work keeps a bit of normality in your routine and is a good way to pass the time if you often feel bored or restless.

  1. Look at your set-up

If you are working from home, look at where you are working and try to set up a separate space away from where you would sit in the evening or when you are not working. Try to have your workspace away from your usual living space as this will help you distinguish between home and work. This can help with stress and also makes you more productive during your working hours.

  1. Create a to-do list

Having a routine or to-do list is a great way to fill up your day when you’re working from home. By having a list that you tick off at the end of the day, you feel more productive and are more likely to achieve your goals during the working day. This also helps with time management and stops you from getting distracted.

  1. Keep in contact

Working from home or self-isolating can be very lonely, especially if you live alone or are living abroad away from friends and family. That’s why it’s important to keep in contact with people on a regular basis. It is also important to regularly check in on colleagues, friends and family members to make sure they’re okay.

Whether it is with colleagues, friends, or family, keeping in contact with people regularly will help combat the feeling of being isolated. Virtual coffee breaks and meetings with colleagues are a great way to incorporate socialisation whilst working from home, and there are several options to do this such as through Skype or Facetime. Also, making an effort to call colleagues rather than relying on email is another simple way to stay connected to people!

  1. Do an online fitness class

Even though we must social distance ourselves, this doesn’t mean we have to stop exercising. Instead of going to the gym, why not bring the gym to you by doing a home workout? There are hundreds of free fitness classes and home workouts online on YouTube, and you don’t always need any equipment. Exercise is extremely important for our mental health as it releases endorphins, which can have a positive effect on how we feel. Exercise has also been said to increase productivity which is great if you’re struggling to adjust to working from home and getting into a routine.

  1. Take regular breaks from work

Taking regular screen breaks is essential when your job involves working on a computer, no matter where you’re working. Regular breaks will help to improve your productivity and quality of work, attention levels, awareness and how fast you work. If you find it difficult to concentrate, feel tired or hungry, or feel restless then it’s time to take a break! Screen breaks also help reduce the chance of eyestrain and headaches.

  1. Go outside or let in some fresh air

According to Public Health England, adults should have 10 micrograms of vitamin D every day, and getting outside in the sunlight will give you a much-needed vitamin D boost. You can either go for a walk at lunchtime or sit outside in your garden (if you have one). Open the windows and let in some fresh air too whilst you’re working, as doing this will help to decrease stress, boost your immune system and make you feel less fatigued.

  1. Take a break from the news and social media

The amount of mental energy we give our phones, specifically social media, could be put to much better use. Social media is not real life and no matter the influence, or supposed influence, it has, it’s a curated and selective sample of what’s actually going on in the world. Many people are beginning to discover this and there has been a trend of people consciously reducing their social media use. The same goes for avoiding listening to the news during difficult times. Of course, it’s important to stay up to date with what’s going on, but if you find that listening to the news increases your anxiety or stress levels then it might be best to avoid listening to it personally, and instead ask a friend or family member to only inform you of things that are necessary.

  1. Stay hydrated

With the change in routine that comes with working from home, people start to forget the basics and often neglect their wellbeing. Drinking enough water prevents our brain from having to struggle against the effects of dehydration, allowing us to think more clearly and reduce the likelihood of headaches. With our brains being constructed of almost two-thirds fluid, keeping ourselves hydrated is key to feelings of happiness and contentment.

If you have any other helpful tips or advice about self-care whilst working from home, then please let us know in the comments.

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