More people than ever before are now working from home. For some, this will be through choice. For others, it’s due to circumstances that they have no control over. No matter what the reason, and whether you would have chosen to work this way or not, dealing with the ‘new normal’ is crucial. One of the problems that can be associated with working from home is a decline in mental health. Here are some steps you can take to ensure you take care of your mental health, no matter what.
Have A Dedicated Workspace
When you work from home, it can be difficult to truly concentrate, and you will often be distracted by everything going on around you, from other people to children to chores. You might just not be comfortable, which can also be a distraction.
The best way to work from home is to have a dedicated workspace if you possibly can. This means having a place to work that is not used for anything else. You shouldn’t use the kitchen table or work surface if you can avoid it, and you shouldn’t be in the living room on the couch, or in your bedroom on your bed. The best thing you can do is to have a room that is solely used for work. If this is not possible, try to have an area of a room dedicated to work – have a proper desk and a comfortable chair to work from, and you will be much more productive and much happier.
Right at the start of your working from home journey, you need to be upfront and transparent. If you want to stop work at a certain time and not have to check your emails again until the morning, let people know. If you want lunch at a certain time and it lasts an hour, let people know. If you have a regular school run to make (when schools are open again) and you won’t be contactable, let people know.
Be clear in your one-to-ones with your manager. However, it’s not possible to be upfront with them in your video calls, direct them to services like inpulse.com, which are dedicated to measuring the wellbeing of remote workers, thereby ensuring those working from home, or even those furloughed, will have good mental health.
It’s amazing how much less pressurized you will feel about stepping away from your computer and devices if you have made everyone aware of your schedule right from the start.
Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take breaks when you need them. Breaks are extremely important and good for your continued positive mental health, as well as your productivity. If you don’t take breaks – perhaps because you want to prove to your boss that you can be productive at home –your work will suffer and your mental health with it. You will feel frustrated at not achieving your goals, which will make you feel even more frustrated – and the cycle will never end.
Take the breaks you need, especially at the moment, when it can all feel too much at times. Yes, it’s important to keep working, but your health – mental or otherwise – is even more important.
It can also be useful to use at least one of your breaks to coincide with some of your colleagues. You can have ‘watercooler’ chats via FaceTime or Zoom, for example, and keep up with how everyone is doing. Seeing friendly faces and hearing familiar voices is always good.