The coronavirus has flipped most of our lives upside down and left a lot of us with no choice but to change the way we all work and live. Individuals and businesses have had to start working from home, as it seems to be the only way forward in these COVID certain times.
But this new way of working begs the question. How do we stay mentally healthy while working from home?
The coronavirus has not only put our lives into chaos and disorder but it has also forced us to work from home, isolating us more than ever.
This combination is harmful for our mental health.
Staying connected to others and feeling a sense of community is vital to our mental wellbeing. Without it we feel cut off and alone, we lose our motivation to work, we lose our inspiration for new ideas and projects.
But just because we are working from home doesn’t mean we need to feel this way. Here are two ideas to help you stay connected whilst working from home;
- Call and message your work colleagues as regularly as possible. Make a WhatsApp or Facebook group so you can all share your thoughts, feelings and meaningless memes. This will give you a feeling of community.
- Have regular zoom meetings with your team at work. Sharing a common mission is what gives a lot of us our sense of purpose and meaning at work.
Set-Up a Workspace
Our minds are associative machines. The place we work from becomes a place of focus, concentration and admittedly sometimes, stress. The place we sleep becomes known to our minds as a place to unwind and relax.
Merging the two is never a good idea. Our minds get confused as to when we should be working or when we should be relaxing.
So, try to set up a corner or a part of your living space which is designed specifically and exclusively for working. This workspace should minimize distractions and be as separate or far away from your relaxing space (your bed or lounge room) as possible.
Keep Moving Your Body
Working from home on a daily basis means that your body is static for most of the day. This can make you feel groggy, tired and uninspired.
To combat this, you need to get your body moving. You could do push-ups, situps, burpees and if possible going for a run can be a magical way to get a boost of energy and focus.
Keeping up with regular exercise can be the perfect way to break up your day, but it is also great for your overall health and will help you concentrate on your work for longer periods of time.
Stick to a Schedule
Sticking to a schedule or routine is not only crucial to productivity but it also helps to manage our mental state.
One vital aspect of your routine is the time you wake up and fall asleep.
Our bodies work on the natural cycle of the sun to manage our sleep cycles. But it can be easy to fall out of this rhythm when we are working from home. Being persistent in maintaining this natural rhythm will help your mood to stabilize and keep your energy up.
Besides this, a daily schedule will give you some much-needed structure to your working from home life. There are numerous ways to make a schedule, but the one I would suggest (because I use it), is a simple to-do list.
Every night before you go to sleep you can write a list of the tasks that you need to complete the next day. You can be as detail-orientated or informal as you like, but either way, it will help you to prioritise the tasks of the day and stay relaxed.
In addition to this, you can use a simple calendar (google calendar is great) to keep everything tidy and to assure you don’t forget an important meeting or event.
Find Balance and Take Breaks
The coronavirus is a worldwide phenomenon that, for most of us, changed our lives drastically in a matter of months. It’s not easy to swiftly adjust to a new way of working and to comprehend something as severe and world-shaking as this at the same time.
It’s okay to have difficult days, to have days where you’re not so productive, where you don’t feel like doing anything. It’s completely understandable and completely okay, in fact, I would encourage it from time to time.
We live in a world that expects us to operate at full capacity all the time, to move 100km an hour at full power. But inevitably, there will come a time when our engine starts to break down and we run out of fuel.
Taking regular breaks and days off is an important part of keeping your vehicle well maintained and therefore staying mentally healthy.
Here are some suggestions for breaks you can take while working from home;
- Take a long bath or shower (and sing at the top of your lungs)
- Drink tea and talk to a close friend over the phone or a video call
- Try yoga (there are plenty of ‘do it from home’ yoga videos on YouTube)
- Watch a movie
- Lie down and listen to music
Every day begins with an act of courage and hope, getting out of bed.Mason Cooley