With the world on lockdown due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), work from home set-ups have increased worldwide. Meetings have been replaced by video calls and office spaces have been brought to bedrooms and couches. With all this rush for productivity, companies have been striving for more output and are demanding more from their employees. Working from home might seem like the new normal but what does that mean for mental health?
Working from home is something practiced in a number of industries. To put things into perspective, let’s take a look at survey conducted in 2019 by the cloud infrastructure company, Digital Ocean. They found that majority of their remote tech employees felt burnt out. With a whopping 82% of employees feeling stressed and overworked, it comes to no surprise that deteriorating mental health is a risk for many. At the root of this, 52% stated that they are working longer hours and 40% felt the need contribute more than their office counterparts. Stress, long hours and eventual burnout can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
If you’re feeling this way, remember that you aren’t alone. Here are a few tricks you can use to help you combat the challenges of maintaining your mental health while working from home.
Indulge in self-care
Whether it’s reaching out to a mental healthcare professional or something as simple as eating healthy, remembering to take time to take care of yourself can ultimately make you more productive. Self-care might seem like an escape from productivity but it’s actually the key to it. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and that goes both ways. When we say ‘indulge’, we really mean take as much as you can get and grow from it. It isn’t about excess; it’s about allowing yourself to love you a little better.
Maintain a daily routine
It’s important to take it one day at a time. With the uncertainty of a global pandemic, its sometimes overwhelming to even think about work. As creatures of habit, creating a healthy daily routine helps put your mind at ease. By practicing something as simple as having a morning cup of coffee or settling into a weekly workout routine, you allow your body to cope with uncertainty by using the certainty of small daily actions. One step towards a daily routine could mean a leap in improving your mental health.
Manage your workspace
When working from home, productivity is always a big concern. Because the line between your professional life and personal life has been blurred, keeping focused can be difficult. An important tip is to ensure that you have a proper working space. Avoid working on couches or your bed. If you spend the majority of your day in front of a screen remember that your posture can also affect your mental health as lumpy chairs or the lack of support may induce stress. Consider ergonomic products such as standing desks or customized workstations. You can keep yourself in the zone and focused on what you have to do when you don’t have to worry about discomfort.
Be conscious about what you expose yourself to
With all the jarring news updates and social media posts you’re barraged with daily, it can be emotionally overwhelming. Although staying informed during this time is important, it’s important to taper the amount of information you consume daily. Select a number of credible sources such as the WHO (World Health Organization) or the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) to stay informed and to avoid over congesting yourself with information. This also applies to social media. Limit your screen time and free yourself up to things that can keep you productive and proactive. When you clear up space in your mind, you can find yourself focusing better on the things that matter. This means focusing better at working from home on more personal interests such as your hobbies and the people you love.
As social beings, we seek human interaction and seek to connect. Take advantage of the how the internet can truly connect us. Have a video call with family or play an online game with your friends. When it comes to work, interact with your co-workers regarding things other than work. It’s important to give value to these connections to be able to work together cohesively.
Nicholas Bloom conducted a Stanford study that focuses on work from home structures. The key is fighting isolation in a work from home structure. He states the importance of an office for providing an environment where “In-person collaboration is necessary for creativity and innovation”. Ultimately when it comes to working from home you have to remember that although productivity is the goal, it isn’t the only thing. By staying connected to our co-workers on a more personal level, we can preserve that spirit of collaboration.
These are just a few simple tips that can help you maintain your mental health while working from home. WHO along with their partners are also working on new materials focused on mental health and psychosocial support in relation to COVID-19. Remember that reaching out to a health care professional is always the best option when it comes to your mental health. Online Resources are available for counseling, you can also check with your community on crisis centers. Always remember that there’s no shame in seeking help, we’re all in this together.