How to Maintain Mental Well-Being While Working From Home
Work From Home and Mental Well Being
Working long hours on the computer at home amid the lock-down, struggling between work assignments and household chores can cause one to be more stressed and fatigued out than a 9 to 5 workday. Added to that the constant news updates on the spread of the virus and its toll on people across the world can lead to anxiety and depression also. Taking care of mental well-being during this crisis is as important as taking care of your physical health. There are ways to stay productive and not lose your calm during the shutdown. So here are some tips to beat loneliness and isolation while working from home during the pandemic.
Plan Your Day Ahead
To avoid confusion and work-related troubles, plan your day ahead carefully. It is important to plan a schedule on what needs to be done on a daily basis so as to stay focused and productive. Deadlines need to be met whether you are working from home or from an office. So set a timeline and get going, don’t brood on the boredom of working alone. Getting the work done is important. The first step is to wake up early. True you have saved on the commutation time, but the sooner you start your work, the easier it is for you to complete the work as per your schedule. Go to sleep early so it is easier to wake up early. A paper planner can keep you on track every day. Schedule the toughest task for the mornings when you are refreshed and active, calls in the afternoon to keep boredom away. It is advisable to schedule a specific time for emails and chats with colleagues. Set up professional and personal goals. Follow your progress and see what needs to be done to improve your productivity. Achieving the daily goals that you have set within the allotted time gives you a sense of satisfaction and motivates you to work better. Maintaining a work-life balance is important for good mental and physical health during these critical times.
Create a Conductive Working Space
Create a workspace in the house that is conducive to work. Don’t slouch on the couch with your laptop, it is not only bad for your posture and back, but can be demotivating. Invest in comfortable furniture. Find a space that is pleasant with good light and air. Fill it with house plants. Natural surroundings keep you cheerful. Keep the surroundings where you work clean. Keep your desk tidy with the things you need to work with like notepad, pen, cellphone, charger within easy reach like you would in an office cubicle. Noise cancellation headphones should be very useful and help you to concentrate on the work. Ensure that you are not disturbed by pets or children when you are in your designated workspace, working.
Technology to the Rescue
All employees who work from home, work on laptops or desktops at home. Most of the important applications and data are on the cloud; critically most companies have a remote/distributed work culture already in place. Home internet connections are fairly good. Apps like Microsoft’s Teams for chats and sharing pictures and zoom for calls and video meetings. Whiteboard on Teams helps to illustrate points and Channels in Teams to share notes. The pandemic is demonstrating that technology will keep us close, even if we are physically apart.
Work From Home Fashion
Apparel firms have come up with new styles for professionals who work from home. With a sharp slump in sales due to the COVID 19 and lock-down, these firms are hoping to up their sales with a variety of styles for meetings, client calls and such specific work from home apparel. They also have makeup and accessories. They believe that even in the post COVID era ‘work from home’ will be accepted more and practiced widely. They have come up with a wide range of formal yet comfortable apparel for the fashion-conscious. So go for it. Dress like you do when you go to the office with the latest fashion trends. It will uplift your spirits and get you in the mood to work.
Stay Updated but Don’t Obsess Over Negative News
It will only cause more anxiety and fear. Use social media to stay connected with near and dear ones. Use online platforms with caution and follow only reliable and verified news. Do not be a victim of rumors and fake news. Epidemics and Pandemics are known to cause fear and affect the mental health of people long after they are over. Self-correcting systems of yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques are best to heal your mind and body. Do not post anything related to work on social media during work time as it can lead to a lot of complications. Log out from all social media accounts from the computer that you are working on to avoid distractions and the temptation to scroll through those accounts whenever you get a notification. Many companies have begun conducting some fun activities to uplift the morale of their employees in these depressive times. From fitness classes to music concerts and virtual birthday celebrations, employers are doing their bit to keep their staff motivated. They have also started helplines for counseling distressed employees and their families. To stay calm and make the most of your time at home during the pandemic, please read my hub:
Stay connected with your colleagues, friends to beat the isolation blues. The key to success during work from home lies in communication. Update your team members by video call or chat rather than sending emails and waiting for their replies. Share important information with your team. Ask for regular performance evaluation with your manager and get sufficient face time with him. Co-workers and colleagues need to reassure and help each other stay healthy during these stressful times. Use video for conversations with colleagues as face to face conversations build rapport and help to bond better. Respond quickly to questions and be available for meetings, chats, and conferences. Be willing to help coworkers to re-prioritize tasks when they are indisposed. It helps build trust. They can also exchange helpful tips during their free time about their children and family which can be very useful at critical times.
Being Physically Active is Crucial
As sitting in front of the computer all day long can cause fatigue, try to take breaks in between, move about or try to work standing for a little while. Take small breaks once in a while, do the dishes, laundry, water the plants. Don’t work continuously for long hours. Work in chunks of 25 minutes. Thereafter stand up and walk around for five minutes. Make it a habit to move throughout the day to beat the ill effects of a sedentary life. Exercise is a must as your physical movements are restricted. Stretch as often as you can, it will relieve you of the stiffness that comes with working continuously hunched over your laptop. Yoga, breathing exercises, aerobics, and mindful meditation are all recommended. Make Exercise a daily routine and fix a time in the morning or evening specifically for it. Breaks are known to improve creativity and productivity. You can also play some light background music if it helps you work better. Block out distractions when you are working. Join online yoga or dancercise classes.
Ensure that the Children Are not Bored
Apart from handling your office work, make sure that your kids are engaged in studies or other fun activities. Juggling between the needs of children and office work can be challenging. Imagine when you are in the midst of a video conferencing or chat or a face to face meeting with a client and your child barges in and wants something immediately. If you do not have another person to take care of the child and both the parents are working, and the child is old enough to follow, you have to make the child understand that he or she should not disturb when you are working and are on a call. It is best to keep the child engaged with some activities like painting, writing, or music. You can also enroll the child in online classes. There is no dearth of online classes for children these days. From Eco-friendly crafts to baking, painting, music, and dance, there are a lot of options. But a little parental intervention may also be required for such classes if the child is small. You have to schedule your work timings so that it does not clash with the child’s class. This way you can guide the child till he or she gets accustomed to the routine. to read more on tips to keep the kids engaged at home during the pandemic, please read my hub:
Self-Care is Important
Set aside a little time for yourself after the office work is done. Watch your favorite movie, read a book. Continuing with your hobbies when you are working from home is important. Create your own space in bathrooms for that feel good soak. Home space is where you will heal now. Sleep is essential for being productive. But sleep is hard when anxiety levels are high during a pandemic. Missing out on sleep could impair your cognitive functioning and lead to fatigue, irritability, and mental confusion. Ensure you get proper sleep by avoiding caffeine, screen addictions, and a sedentary lifestyle. Set a regular bedtime and wake up time. Binge-watching comedy series like Friends on TV on weekends along with family can be a very good morale booster in these times when there is depressing news everywhere. Spending some time in your garden can be refreshing and therapeutic.
Cookies Amidst Chaos
Baking seems to be a favorite de-stressor for professionals working from home these days. Mixing the flour, kneading the dough, baking and feeding it to their loved ones seem to be uplifting at these stressful times. New studies have shown that baking can relieve stress. It brings out the creativity in you and makes you forget the stressful and anxious situations. The pandemic forced a major chunk of the workforce to work from home. The present situation entailed work for home as one had to do everything oneself because domestic or outside help is not available due to the lock-down. This caused a huge burden on the people leading to a lot of mental stress and strain. Baking seems to calm people and is in fact therapeutic. So many work from home professionals have taken to baking in their free time to beat stress and anxiety due to the double burden of work from home and work for home.
Avoid Junk Food and Take Care of your Diet
Eating well during quarantine is an important way to maintain good immunity and be productive at work too. For this, you need to have scheduled meal times and eating what you would normally eat at the office. Eat healthy balanced meals with pieces of fruit or a healthy cracker, drink 8 to 10 glasses of water and have a glass of antioxidant-rich vegetable juice daily. Use the time saved on commuting in preparing healthy snacks and cook meals for yourself and your family. This is the bright side of lock-down. You are in charge of the kitchen now, what with no maids and cooks and it is a wonderful time to control the diet of the family. Unstock all the unhealthy junk food that destroy your immunity like alcohol, aerated drinks, artificial sweeteners, and fried and junk food. These may initially spike your blood sugar but will also send them crashing down. Don’t eat at your work desk and don’t work while you eat. Don’t watch TV while you eat. Concentrate on your eating, enjoy each bite, chew slowly and see what a difference it can make to your health and immunity during these stressful times.
There has been a drastic improvement in the air quality due to the lock-down. Vehicular transport has come to a standstill; the levels of atmospheric pollution in urban centers all over the world have dropped significantly with billions of people being home-bound. There has been a marked improvement in the environment. The sky is bluer, water sources are cleaner, and we can even hear the birds chirping, what with the absence of horns and other traffic noise in the cities. Considering these enormous benefits of working from home, many companies may consider making work from home a long term option. It saves businesses the office space and rent, electricity and other essentials needed to run an office. For the employees, maintaining a work-life balance can help in beating isolation and loneliness. Then by incorporating certain changes like a disciplined work schedule, a good diet, small breaks in between, proper exercise, and staying connected with coworkers and colleagues, work from home can be productive and fun too.
Do you Think Working From Home is a Better Option
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 VIDYA D SAGAR