It’s fair to say that life has become more difficult for everyone. COVID-19 has changed everything, we’re having to adjust to new ways of living and working constantly, with a cloud of the unknown hanging over us.
Whilst there are some perks to working from home (bye bye commute!), working remotely has its downsides such loneliness, restlessness, boredom, anxiety and uncertainty to name a few. Alongside this, many of us are worried about future job prospects, whilst trying to look after children or other family members and remembering which platform your next meeting is on.
These simple tips can help you while working at home, to feel more productive and take care of your mental health in these difficult times.
- Try to set and stick to a routine
Without steady schedules, the lines between work and personal time can get blurred and be stressful to get right. Follow your normal sleep and work patterns if you can and stay consistent. Get up at the same time, eat breakfast, and get out of your pjs! Try scheduling in your “commute time” and spend it exercising, reading, getting a head of some household chores or listen to music and have a morning bogie before logging in.
Most importantly, when your workday stops, stop working. It’s so easy to say, ‘I’ll just check this quickly’ and before you know it another hour has passed. Shut down, stop checking emails and focus on your home life. And at the end of the day, try to get to bed at your usual time.
- Make a dedicated workspace
If you can, find a quiet space away from people and distractions. Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else – and shut the door if you can. Even in a small or shared space, try to designate an area as your work space.
Lastly, get comfortable. While it might be tempting to sit on the sofa, it’s much better to sit at a desk or table. Use the NHS guidelines to set up your workspace correctly, as much as you possibly can. If you do not have office furniture like an adjustable chair, try using things like cushions to support you in your chair, or a box as a footrest.
- Give yourself a break
Working at home can make us feel like we must be available all the time. But just being “present” is no use to anyone if your mental health is suffering. Making time for breaks is important to help manage feelings of stress – try to take lunch and regular screen breaks. Give yourself time to concentrate on something else so you feel more focused when you return. Even just 5 to 10 minutes of short breaks each hour can really help your productivity too.
If possible, set a time to get some fresh air, or even walk to your nearest coffee shop and get a to go cup. Working from home means you might be spending a lot more time without moving your body. If you’re feeling stiff or tense, try doing some light stretching or just get up and walk around.
- Stay connected
While working from home has its benefits, you may also feel more isolated. But there are lots of ways to stay in touch with those who matter – boosting their mental wellbeing as well as our own.
In and out of work, human interaction matters so schedule video calls and pick up the phone instead of emailing. If you’re struggling with working at home, speak to your colleagues or manager about your concerns, your colleagues probably feel the same as you! Ask how they’re doing and whether there are ways you can support each other.
Make time to socialise virtually – schedule in a digital coffee break or Friday online get-together. Or meet in person for a coffee or lunch if you can do so, following the latest social distancing guidelines.
- Set boundaries
Setting boundaries with other members of your household is key to mental wellbeing while working at home. You can be more flexible when working from home, so enjoy it. But it can also be difficult if there are other distractions to deal with, like children at home, who may think you are on holiday and want to spend time with you.
Discuss your needs, especially with family. Remind them that you still have work to do and need quiet time to do it and share your schedule. Similarly, set boundaries with work. It’s easier to stay logged on when your home is your office but try to switch off when the work day is over and enjoy time with family at home.
- Think longer term
It’s safe to say, that the current guidelines won’t be changing any time soon. You may be continuing to work from home for a while, so think about ways you could improve how you work while at home. If you have a garden and the weathers nice, could you take your breaks out there? If you have a conservatory, could that be your new work area? Sick of working in the living room, try out new spaces around your home to work from.
- Do not stay glued to the news
Don’t believe everything you read. Try to limit the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.
You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to checking a couple of times a day. Use trustworthy sources – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information from the news, social media or other people.
- Carry on doing things you enjoy
If we are feeling worried, anxious, lonely or low, we may stop doing things we usually enjoy. Try to focus on your favourite hobby if it is something you can still do at home. Or start a new hobby: read, write, do crosswords or jigsaws, or try drawing and painting. Whatever it is, find something that works for you. If you cannot think of anything you like doing, try learning new recipes or stream some live shows if you miss going to the theatre. Remember, you can still see your friends for a coffee or dinner – following the latest social distancing guidelines.
- Talk about your worries
It’s normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too. If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.
- Be kind to yourself
Remember, this is an unusual situation and things will not feel normal!
Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you might not be as productive as you usually would be. Be realistic about what you can achieve given the circumstances and relax when your work is done.
We have a variety of COVID19 recovery webinars available to individuals and businesses of all scales. Our FREE events can be found here.