The pandemic has been tough on our mental health as a nation. Our daily lives have been disrupted. We’re worried about our physical health, but quarantine has left us feeling isolated and alone. Our economic situation is perilous at best. It’s no wonder we see unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety.
For those of us fortunate enough to still be able to work from home, perhaps doing so for the first time in our lives, navigating these new waters can be a tough transition. There are, however, some things you can do to make the transition easier on your mental health.
While there may be a temptation to remain in your pajamas all day, it can hamper your ability to focus and your productivity. You don’t necessarily need to dress as formally as you might at the office, but the key is to at least change your clothes. This can help you set your intention for the day. Heather Yurovsky, a career coach at Muse, says, “Don’t underestimate the power of putting on clothes suitable for public viewing. It makes you feel human [and] confident and helps draw the line between being at work and being at home.”
Maintain a Regular Schedule
Maintaining a daily routine can help you stay on track. Going through the regular physical motions of getting around for work and then sitting down to work can help you mentally prepare to work.
Separate Work & Home
Setting up a separate workspace or home office can be extremely helpful in keeping an appropriate work/life balance. While it doesn’t have to be an entire room dedicated only to work, it should be a space separated as much as possible from the rest of your home. Without a designated area, work can bleed into your personal life and cause friction in your personal relationships as well as making you less productive throughout the day.
When you enter your designated workspace, it can help your work mindset kick in and get the day started. This also works at the end of the day when you leave your work area and “go home.” This deliberate separation will help you to maintain a healthy work/life balance. The critical piece here is the physical actions that signal the beginning and end of your workday.
Keep set working hours and set boundaries with family members. Stick to your working hours and avoid extending work into the evening hours just because you may not have anything else going on. You need that downtime to be your most productive during your working hours. It’s also important to take some breaks throughout the day, but set timers for yourself to return to work, so you don’t let yourself get too distracted.
Communicate with Co-Workers
Regular communication with co-workers and managers is even more essential when you’re working from home to keep things running smoothly. As you begin working from home, you will likely experience unique challenges; don’t be afraid to reach out to those you would typically ask for help at work. Also, don’t merely rely on text-based communication; if you’d usually meet with someone face to face, consider doing a video conference. Doing this will lower the chances of miscommunication and help you feel less alone.
Part of what makes each workday feel unique is the social interaction you typically have with those who work with you. Little bits of small talk at the water cooler help to break up your day and allow your brain to recharge. These small moments are no less essential when working from home. Meeting up virtually for lunch with those you’d typically take lunch with can help you maintain those relationships and feel connected. Otherwise, your days can begin to feel repetitive and monotonous. There’s more to work than just the work itself; often, it’s the people we work with that make our jobs enjoyable or at least tolerable.
Following these tips can make coping with feelings of anxiety and depression less challenging.
While there may be much we truly can’t control in this situation; there are some things that we can do to make it easier on ourselves when working from home. It’s just up to us to do them.