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Looking after your mental health whilst working from home

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 30 Mar 2020

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The workplace has been evolving for a while now, but for some people, working from home has now been forced upon them by events beyond their control. Whether you are new to working from home or you’re very much used to it, looking after your mental health should always be a top priority. For many, the traditional workplace provides not only a steady place to do your work, but a place for you to communicate and engage with your colleagues. Most of us need daily interaction in our lives and for some, working from home and being isolated from others, is going to prove a difficult task. Due to the current situation, we need to think about keeping both our minds and body healthy, to make sure that we come out stronger when this is all over. There are things you can be doing on a daily basis to help you feel more comfortable at home, we discuss these below.

Use technology to your advantage

You should keep in regular contact with your work colleagues, it’s important to keep up to date with your work and ask any questions, but it’s always good to be able to take a small break and have a chat with your co-workers. Whether you want to talk on the phone or video chat, checking in with your colleagues will not only help you, but it is likely to help them as well. Especially if they live alone, being able to have contact throughout the day will make both your days better. Another good idea is to have a group video call, that way you are able to get a good discussion going and you are including more people. However, we all might not feel comfortable using certain types of technology, so if it works for you, simply emailing people at work will do the job. Make sure you are doing enough to make you feel like you are kept in the loop!

You should also use any work social channels to your advantage. Most companies will have intranet pages, where you can read work news and comment on other people’s posts. If you have the resources available to you, now would be a good time to start using it.

Get yourself into a routine

Get up at a reasonable time and get dressed – If possible, it’s a good idea to stick to your original work-day routine. This means waking up at a similar hour as you usually would. You might feel the need to have a lay-in, but more often than not, it can lead you to feeling more tired and not ready to start the day. When you are getting dressed for the day, you don’t have to get ready in your usual work attire but getting out of your pyjamas is a good start. You want to get in something clean, so you are more likely to feel fresh and ready for the day.

Find a place free of distractions – Being able to have a space at home that is free of any distractions can be difficult for some people, but if needed, move around during the day. If you are in a quiet and well-lit space, you are more likely to get things done and hopefully cause you less worry. However, we are all trying to adjust to this new way of working, so there may be some slip-ups from time to time. Make sure that you are trying your best to stay calm and get your work done in your own time, as long as it gets done.

Finish working at a normal time! – When you are at home with all of your equipment, it can be easy for some to carry on working after their normal working hours. It can be tempting and sometimes necessary when you have a large amount of work to finish. However, eating into your personal time can leave you feeling more stressed and angrier towards your work. Start and finish at a normal time, and you can take the rest of the day for yourself.

Fill your day with activities – Once you have done your work, the rest of the day is yours. You might struggle at first to find a balance between work-time and home-time because there is no difference to your surroundings. However, it can be a good idea to set an alarm for when it’s time to finish up for the day. This is especially good for the people that don’t run by the clock, days go a lot faster when you’re not clock watching. Once you have finished work, try and go for your walk, run or cycle, read a book, watch that tv series you’ve been wanting to watch or maybe even try cooking or baking. There are loads of things you can be doing with your time. Keeping yourself busy and active will not only keep you physically healthy but help keep your mind at ease. Make sure you are going outside every day, we have been advised that we can have one walk or run a day and I highly recommend using it, especially if you don’t have access to a garden. Staying inside continuously for a long period of time can lead people to feel very alone and restricted. It’s also important to stay in contact with your loved ones, as suggested before, video calling them can make then feel closer than they actually are.

Make sure you voice any concerns you have

If you do have any concerns about working from home and your wellbeing, it is important to let your line manager know. They should be more than happy to help you during this difficult time and the likelihood is, they are probably feeling a similar way. Your employer might already have coping mechanisms in place to help you with your work. Check if they are offering reduced or change in hours and if you feel it is necessary, take them up on their offer. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and happy. If you need to make some changes to ensure this happens, so be it.

Consider keeping a journal

For some, keeping a journal may seem like a pointless task. But taking some time at the end of the day to write down any thoughts you might have about your day or even writing down parts of your day that you are grateful for, can do great things for your mental well-being. There will always be days where we don’t feel our best, this is normal, but taking time to think about the positive aspects of our days can help us see that there is going to be a time where this will all just be a memory. Reminding ourselves that things will change can help lift a negative mindset. Sometimes all we need is a little reassurance.

Keep your body and mind healthy

Keeping your body healthy is very important when trying to keep your mind healthy. You want to be able to feel your best, and this means doing exercise and trying to eat as well as you can during this time. Sticking to a healthy diet can help you feel more energised and ready for the day. You don’t want to be fuelling your body with fatty and unhealthy foods, although every now and again, chocolate (or your personal equivalent) is a must! Try and stick to an exercise routine and healthy eating plan, it can be harder now more than ever, but you might just thank yourself in the long run.

You may feel like you don’t have any on-going mental health issues, but the effects of self-isolating and working from home may change the way you feel. If you do start to experience changes and begin facing some new challenges, make sure you try and change parts of your day-to-day routine. Try and talk to your employer about the troubles you are facing and keep your loved ones in the know. They might not be able to physically see you, but I’m sure they will try and help you the best they can. The worst thing we can do when facing challenges like this is keeping our thoughts and feelings all bottled up, if you don’t feel comfortable letting anyone know, try using the journal technique suggested above, at least then you are getting things off your chest. These are hard times for us all and keeping positive may seem easier said than done. Just know that you are important, and this will all eventually come to an end. And remember, you are not alone!­