With so many of us still working from home for the foreseeable future, protecting your mental health during this time is crucial. Staying at home all day is beginning to take its toll on many of us, who struggle to differentiate between their time working and their personal life. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the best ways you can protect your mental health while working from home this year.
Create a Separate Working Space
By now, you hopefully have established an area in your home where you work each day. However, if you are still working in your bedroom or on your dining table, you may want to think about setting up a small corner or room just for working. This will allow you to go to work each day and then close the door on your work in the evening. One of the biggest reasons that working from home is beginning to impact people’s mental health is that they feel there’s no escape from work. It’s crucial to treat working from home in the same way as you would your regular job, where you leave the office at the end of the day and don’t look at your emails until the next morning.
Add Work Breaks Into Your Schedule
When you previously worked in the office, you most likely took a lunch break and multiple coffee breaks throughout the day. Working from home is encouraging more and more people to start work in the morning and then work through until the end of the day. You are completely entitled to your lunch break, so ensure you are factoring time in each day to walk away from your computer screen and take a real break. If you can, we recommend adding a small five-minute break into your schedule each hour, where you get up and take a break from your work. Even a quick change of scenery can make you feel refreshed and reduce the strain on your eyes after so many hours of staring at a screen.
Use Your Paid Time Off
If you are entitled to vacation time or paid time off from your job, ensure you are still using it to its full potential. Working from home is resulting in more and more adults feeling burnt out, and one of the reasons for this is they are not taking a vacation or break like they usually would. Even if you don’t feel comfortable traveling yet, use a day or two of your vacation time to have a staycation or just explore your local neighborhood. Taking time off is critical for our mental health and can help minimize feelings of burnout and depression from working all of the time.
Spend Time Outside
While this is easier in the summer months than during the winter, make sure you plan to spend a short time outside each day. One of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety and depression is to spend time outdoors. Just a short walk during your lunch break around your neighborhood or to a nearby park will completely refresh your mind and body. If you also have kids at home at the moment, this is important for them as well. Taking a break from your computer screen or phone at lunch to enjoy some gentle exercise will completely transform your work from home routine.
As well as creating a physical space for your work, you should also work to create boundaries for your work and home life. If you are assigned to work between 9 am and 5 pm each day, stick to those hours. You aren’t being paid to work until late at night each day, and so you should treat your schedule as if you were still working in the office. One of the reasons more and more people are struggling with their mental health is that their work is beginning to take over their life. They check their emails all day, every day, and constantly feel like they are switched on.
If you feel like your workplace is still not respecting your personal time, it’s time to have a conversation with your boss. They may not even realize they are encouraging you to work out of hours. However, with work from home looking to continue for the next year for many companies, it’s better to stop this issue before it gets any worse. Your time and health are extremely precious, so ensure you are still making time in your schedule for your family and activities that make you feel balanced.
Keep Up an Exercise Routine
Keeping active is essential for good mental health and to fight off feelings of anxiety or depression. Finding a workout routine that you enjoy is the best way to keep up with exercising. Try to find a short yet effective form of exercise that you can add to your daily schedule. Running, yoga, dancing, boxing, or anything else you enjoy will work, and you don’t need to join a gym or purchase fancy equipment to take part in any of these activities. Consider adding a thirty-minute workout into your day as soon as you log out from work, which will separate your working time and your personal time.
Create a Night-time Routine
Getting eight hours of sleep a night is one of the best ways to protect your mental health. Many of us have been struggling to sleep during the pandemic, but creating a good wind-down routine can help relax you before you head to bed for the night. Try to avoid using screens within the last hour or two before you plan to sleep, and spend time relaxing or reading instead. This will signal to your body that it’s time to relax and will hopefully set you up for a restful night’s sleep.
Looking after your mental health while working from home can be incredibly challenging. The pandemic has certainly taken its toll on many of us, but by setting boundaries and adopting good routines, you can begin to restore your overall wellbeing. By resting well and exercising each day, you’ll find you can work to combat any mental health issues you are facing while working from home this year.