Working from home is no simple task. With endless distractions and constant changes in work hours, it can be very easy to ignore what is important: you and your mental health.
Since the coronavirus pandemic, the number of people working from home has significantly increased. While there are some advantages to this new experience, isolation and other unique stressors can contribute to a decline in mental health.
You Are Not Alone
Over the last two years, the status quo of remote work has shifted. For a lot of people, working from home is the new normal. Recognizing that you aren’t alone if you feel overwhelmed with this experience—whether it is brand new or familiar—can be reassuring. Without the structure of a prototypical out-of-home job, feeling stressed, anxious, and burnt out are all valid. The rate of WFH employees feeling impacted by their declining state of mental health is rising, but understanding how to manage the experience can make a significant difference.
Curate Your Environment
It is essential to curate a work-from-home environment that can foster motivation, creativity, and a laser focus on any task. Setting up an area designated for work—and work only—can help stop the conflation of spaces in your home and, now, your office. Adding personal touches, like photos, an ergonomic desk chair, blue light glasses, or headphones to combat distractions, will help make the space feel lighter. A desk treadmill is also an addition to consider; maintaining an exercise routine and supporting yourself with healthy habits can improve overall mental health. Keeping your WFH environment clean and organized provides support—studies have backed up the correlation!
Stick To It
Sticking to manageable expectations, such as a schedule or routine, helps give structure to the workday. Adding a meaningful morning routine and setting aside time for lunch can make you feel more in control of each day. Sticking to a workout routine and maintaining physical well-being are linked to many positive effects on mental health. Mental health can also be managed by setting small goals each day. Make a to-do list for work and non-work-related tasks you plan to complete within the day, week, or month to keep yourself on track and avoid procrastination-induced stress or feelings of failure.
Connect, Connect, Connect
Working from home has the potential to become very isolating, but making efforts to create connections can help to manage mental health. Most WFH organizations host virtual events or manage digital channels. Connecting with other employees utilizing these resources is a simple way to meet the people working with you. Get out of the house and connect with things that spark your interest outside of work. Volunteering, taking art classes, and going to communal spaces are some ways to trigger “happy hormones,” or endorphins, which support overall mental health. Working from home while trying to maintain your mental health sometimes becomes too overwhelming. Connecting with professionals is a great way to establish a support system outside yourself. Know what your organization offers in regard to an Employee Assistance Program; many organizations with WFH employees have these resources in place for their staff.
Do It For You
Another step to improving mental health is self-prioritizing. If it is practical and purposeful, use paid time off for a day to recharge; if that is not feasible, set time aside on the weekend for yourself. Working from home can be very lonely without any daily connections, so making time for family and friends that support you and your well-being can make a difference in the experience. Taking small breaks and prioritizing self-care in ways that are productive for you will make long-term management of your mental health much easier.
More “you” time is not more work. Keep things simple. Take small strides to manage mental health when working from home. Remember that you aren’t alone. Make efforts to curate the perfect working environment and establish connections with others. Stick to your expectations, and remember to put yourself first. Don’t shy away from seeking help from professionals.
For more ways to stay motivated and promote mental health, visit Our First Job Search for all things motivation, along with more resources for managing mental health.
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