Working from home comes with a variety of benefits; a flexible schedule, being able to work from anywhere, and no commute. But working from home can also be a challenge. It comes with its own unique set of issues and can also have a downside for employees and their mental health. For those who work in the office or work from home, burnout can be crushing. With the lines of home and work-life blurring and the stress of the pandemic, it is not surprising that employees are more apt to experience burnout, depression, and anxiety.
If the past year and a half of living in a world under lockdown and unknown futures has taught us anything, it is that mental health needs to be a top priority, now more than ever before. Working from home during a global pandemic can be defeating. Your mental and physical health pay the price. It is easy, with the lack of social interaction and isolation, to let your mental health slowly slip downhill.
In case you have been struggling with your mental health lately and are worried about staying happy while working from home, here are ways that you can improve your mental health, prevent work from home burnout, and have a better work-life balance!
Set Up Boundaries
When you are working in the office, you can separate your work from your personal life fairly easily. You know that, once you are in the office you are working and once you leave the office, you are stepping back into your personal life. However, when you are working from home, this boundary begins to blur. Spending an extra hour at the computer to finish a project can become almost too easy. Leaving the desk to do the dishes is becoming a habit. Even worse, you may find yourself reacting to something stressful at work in front of your family.
To prevent burnout, it is vital that you set up boundaries. Make sure that you have strict work hours and a dedicated space that you work in. Learn to shut the computer off and walk away and give your mind and body time to reset. If you start setting boundaries, you will find yourself more productive and less apt to suffer from mental health issues.
If you are not working in an office where it is normal for the staff to take periodic scheduled lunch breaks, it can be easy to forget to take breaks. Sometimes it can be as easy as simply getting up and going for a quick walk down the street to reset your mind. A fresh breath of air and some time away from your electronics can help you come back to your work with a better attitude and mind.
Breaks come in all forms, not just a quick stroll. Use whatever method that you find most de-stressing to help your mind and body reset. This may be a quick twenty-minute yoga session, a trip running errands, or just reading a few chapters of the book that you are currently reading. Whatever it is, choose to spend your breaks doing what helps you to decompress.
Staying hydrated is not only important for your physical health, but it is also important for your mental health. Dehydration can lead to mood swings, so getting your fluids every day is essential for your mental health. Water is the best choice for staying hydrated during the day, usually accompanied by a squeeze of fresh lemon. Drank in moderation, coffee and tea can both be okay as well, but it is best to stay away from sugar-laden drinks that can make you feel sluggish. If you feel the need to reach for a soda or juice during the workday, try making fruit or vegetable-infused water. This is a great way to add some flavor to your water while staying away from sugary drinks.
This does not mean that you have to be spending every morning doing a full workout at the gym, even a simple walk can boost your mood. During COVID – 19, we have had to find new ways to keep up with our workouts that do not involve making trips to the gym. You can find free workouts on YouTube or download apps that will provide full workouts that can be done at home or even at your desk. If you can, try to take a walk outside each day or work from your front porch. Spending time outside can keep both your body and mind happy.
Set Up a Dedicated Office
Not everyone is able to have a room designated as their office with a desk and work setup, but you can still have a spot designated to work. Have an area of your home, whether it is the dining room table or a corner of your kitchen, that you use exclusively for work. The benefit is that you will be able to leave it “at the office” when you are done with work.
It is essential that you are able to separate work and personal life, which can be very difficult to do when you are working from home. Try to set your home office up in a similar fashion as your office desk. Choose a setup that is comfortable and makes your work hours as pleasant as possible. Your chair should be supportive and help with your posture. The desk should be ergonomic and set up similarly to your office desk. Use the same motivational prints and photos as you would at the office.
Having this dedicated office setup will help increase your productivity and boost your mood. When you work from home, you shouldn’t feel like you’re working from home. Mimicking your office setup will make it feel more like the office and less like your home.
Have A Strict Schedule
Setting a strict daily schedule that you follow is important for accomplishing your tasks and feeling better at the end of the day. For those with anxiety, knowing what to expect the following day and knowing how the day will go is essential. Have a schedule planned out from the moment that you wake up until your head hits the pillow at the end of the day. Time block journaling is a great way to plan out your day.
A daily routine, that schedules out your day including your personal life as well as work life, is important for you to be your most productive self. Create a schedule that accommodates both you and your family’s schedules so that you’ll be on the same page. Have a steady, well-planned day and a good morning routine that sets the pace for your day.
Knowing what’s ahead and scheduling your tasks for the day out can help you be more productive and feel more accomplished at the end of the day. After testing out your daily routine a few times, assess what’s working and what isn’t. Implement new ideas until you find a routine that works for both you and your family.
This might seem like a daunting task. But it can greatly improve your productivity and lessen your stress and anxiety. Try time block journaling or hourly scheduling to get started. Some people find it incredibly helpful to plan their days out in advance. Try planning tomorrow, today. You can do this at the end of your work hours or at the end of the day before you go to bed.
Using a strict schedule can also help you to feel more accomplished at the end of the day. If you set a to-do list of your top priority work items for the day and cross them off as you complete them, this can be a huge mood booster. Ticking items off provides a feeling of accomplishment and will help you feel relieved when going to bed. Your brain will rest easy knowing that you completed everything you needed to.
Use A Reward System
It can be easy to get unmotivated when you are working from home. You may start to procrastinate or get discouraged with your work. One of the best methods for staying motivated and encouraging yourself to finish work is using a reward system. Make your reward system by knowing what tasks are top priority and then setting rewards for completing them.
For instance, if you know that you have three tasks that need to be completed before you can end your workday, tell yourself you can’t watch the next episode of your favorite tv show until they are completed. This method can work well for anyone and in any situation. Use small daily rewards to encourage yourself to do work. This method can also be used for large rewards such as new electronics or home furnishings. Using a reward system will give you something to work for and to look forward to every day.
Prioritize Self Care
When you are putting what can feel like every ounce of yourself into work, self-care is often overlooked. However, not taking care of yourself and choosing to put yourself first can be a cause of burnout. Choosing to put yourself first and setting aside time for self-care does not have to be a long or complicated process.
Self-care can be as simple as setting aside an hour at the end of your day to read your favorite book or taking a long bath. Self-care is about shutting off everything going on in your brain and putting work aside to focus on your mental and physical health. Prioritizing your self-care doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be a priority.
Take Days Off
Everyone needs vacation time away from work, even if they’re not actually going on vacation. Taking time away from work and taking vacation days can be difficult when you are working from home since your home is your office, but you deserve them. Take all your vacation days and savor them.
Working too often and too much is when burnout happens, which is why it’s so important that you give your body a break every once and a while. The more that you take the time to relax and reset the better you’ll be able to perform at your job. You don’t have to be going on vacation to take a day off, even if it’s just to let yourself reset right from home.
Days off are great for socializing with family and friends or spend them doing your favorite hobby. Just make sure that you take the day to do things that make you happy.
Remember That It’s Okay Not To Be Okay
We as humans like predictability, we like to know what’s coming next, and if this past year has shown us anything it’s how little in control we really are. This year the stats have skyrocketed for those experiencing depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses. Give yourself grace, especially if you feel like you may be struggling with work. Everyone, around the globe, has had to adjust to new ways of working and socializing.
You may feel like you’re alone with feeling defeated in work and as if your mental health is deteriorating, but you’re not. Employers understand that now has been more difficult for employees to work than ever before, and they’ll understand if your performance isn’t what it normally is. Remember that it’s okay if you’re not okay and, chances are, other people also feel the same way.
Summing It Up
This past year has been difficult for everyone, especially remote workers. Working from home has been difficult for remote workers all around the world and employee’s mental health has suffered more than ever before. It’s important to take steps to keep your mental health in check and prioritize yourself first. It’s most important to give yourself grace and remember that it’s okay if you’re not doing okay. Remember to check in with your friends and put your mental health above all else and remember that there’s no harm in reaching out for help if you feel that you need it.