Mental Health Tips For Working From Home
Written by Tania Haigh
We all want to continue being part of a team that delivers high-quality products, and to enjoy the process, regardless of where we are located. There will be a number of changes we each need to adjust to if we begin working from home for more than a day or two. For some of us, it will be quieter, and we will have more time alone. For others, it may be the opposite. Each of us may have a unique situation, don’t be afraid to bring up any concerns or challenges so that Katestone can support you. Being mindful of some of the tips below may help us to adjust and minimise any stress.
If you are learning to use new technologies in order to work from home, be patient with yourself. Everything takes time to get used to, so don’t stress about the initial efficiency. Do ask for help if you are stuck.
Suggestions to help maintain a balance between work/life and look after ourselves if we are working from home (see references for more detail):
- Routine – Keep it as normal as possible:
- Start your day in your usual way e.g. exercise, journaling, breakfast before work
- Don’t stay in your PJs all day! Getting ready can help your brain shift gears so you are more ready for work
- Keep regular work hours, or at least track your time and set boundaries on it
- Take your usual coffee and lunch breaks. Go for a walk, call a friend, etc.
- Switch off once you are finished (e.g. turn off notifications, pack up your laptop, do something to wind down)
- Have a dedicated workspace that you can leave at the end of the day
- Or, set up your workspace at the start of your workday, and pack it up at the end of the day so space returns to normal
- Check if your home workspace is comfortable and healthy (and if not, what needs changing? E.g. Do you have a decent chair?)
- Communication – being proactive can go a long way to minimising your stress levels, and those of your coworkers, especially around things like:
- How are other obligations e.g. childcare impacting your time or capacity for work?
- Alternative schedules e.g. due to childcare. Letting people know when you will and won’t be available means the team can contact you at times that suit you
- Let managers know if something isn’t working for you
- Talk with your project team about how you will keep each other updated. It may be more difficult for everyone to know where things are at when we’re not in the office, so more deliberate communication will help
- Being alone is ok, being lonely isn’t. Keep an eye on how you feel
- Hangouts and emails are useful and have their place, but they can also make us feel busier and overwhelmed. Phone may be better, and also more efficient. Video – likely to be the best for helping us feel connected, and also problem-solving/working through challenges due to the visual cues?
- Think about what you need to feel connected. Do you want a regular check-in with someone? Who? This could help not only as a friendly chat but to work through any other challenges that might come up
- Try a virtual lunchroom – an opportunity for everyone to connect, with some prompts/topics to chat about
- Ensure that you still take sick days if you need them, following the usual process
- Keep doing all the usual things to stay healthy and happy (see ‘Good mental health reminders’ below for more tips)
Preventing isolation and burnout – https://www.forbes.com/sites/onemind/2020/03/17/when-home-becomes-the-workplace-mental-health-and-remote-work/#4a9c91001760
Limiting Loneliness During a Pandemic – https://www.girlfriendcircles.com/blog/2020/3/16/limiting-loneliness-during-a-pandemic?inf_contact_key=24cb7104bad3853d233e1c925a335d077e470d92b8b75168d98a0b8cac0e9c09
Nine ways to make working from home easier in a Covid-19 world – https://thespinoff.co.nz/business/18-03-2020/nine-ways-to-make-working-from-home-easier-in-a-covid-19-world/
Good mental health and stress management reminders (newsletter from Sage & Sound, content reproduced below, https://www.sageandsound.com.au/)
Good mental health reminders!
From Lana Hall – Principal Psychologist – https://www.sageandsound.com.au/
With the limitations being placed on socialising, attending fun events, and for some of us, even the way we exercise, it’s super important to make sure you’re keeping up lifestyle balance in other ways.
A gentle reminder of what constitutes lifestyle balance and how to maintain it now:
Eating well – instead of stocking up on rice and pasta, focus on frozen vegetables, baked beans and oats. They’ll all keep for a while, but provide better nutrition and better gut health, which leads to better mental health.
Exercise – Failing all else, get out and walk (at a safe distance from others!). Summer heat is finally leaving and the weather right now is ideal for outdoor exercise.
Sleep – keep getting out of bed and going to sleep at the same time, regardless of how you’re feeling. If sleep routines go out the window, it’s guaranteed you’ll feel even worse. Try calming breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or a sleep meditation if needed.
Videos on calming breathing and progressive muscle relaxation are available at our youtube channel through link:
The “Smiling Mind” app has free sleep meditations. So do lots of other apps, like “calm” and “insight timer”. Play around until you find what works for you.
Socialising – Make a plan to text/ call one friend every 2 days and to tell them about something good that happened to you/share a funny video/talk about the awesome new tv series you’ve discovered. Spread some love!
Hobbies – Now is the time to get one that can be done at home! Learn a language, try out gardening, give crafting/fermenting/brewing a go. Hobbies are so important at present, as they give us feelings of growth, control and confidence as we engage in them – the very feelings that may be in short supply right now.
Mindfulness – Meditation, 5/4/3 technique (video here: http://bit.ly/relaxsagesound), yoga. These all help us to take control of our attention, and place it back in the present moment (always the least stressful place, remember!). The more you practice directing where your attention goes, the more control you have over the thoughts (and so the intensity of feelings), that you have.
Reflection – Taking time to evaluate your emotions and thoughts each day, and noticing how where your attention goes affects your emotional experience. This can be done through journaling, or reviewing resources you already have, or working with mindfulness of your emotions.