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How to Support Your Mental Health When Working from Home?

  • Aug 19, 2020
  • Mental Health

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Working from home may have started as a novelty, but it is starting to affect our mental health.

Even though many industries are slowly opening up, the government still advises those who can work from home to do so for the unforeseeable future.

If you have started noticing a change in your mental health, don’t worry – it’s okay not to feel okay – we all had to adjust to new ways of living and working in a very short time period.

Some common feelings you might be feeling when working from home:

  • Feeling isolated, lonely, or disconnected from other people
  • Being unable to ‘switch off from work’
  • Having difficulty staying motivated
  • Feeling anxious and uncertain about your future or employment
  • Insomnia and sleep problems

Below we’ve provided 5 simple NHS-recommended tips that can help you adjust to working at home and take care of your mental health in these difficult times.

1. Establish Your Routine

Your personal routine is crucial when the overall structure is missing. Without a routine, the lines between work and personal time can get blurred leading to unnecessary stress.

Set a routine that is aligned with how you want to work. Try to start and finish work at the same time each day, with breaks and exercise scheduled in.

You can use your imaginary "commute time" to do things you enjoy like exercising, reading, or listening to music before starting to work.

Most importantly, when your workday stops, stop working. Shut down your computer, leave your work area, and don’t check your emails.

2. Have a Dedicated Working Space Away from Your Bedroom

Create a specific place in your home where you work (avoid your bedroom). If you work in your bedroom, it will become associated with being alert, awake, and switched on.

If you can, find a quiet space away from other people and distractions.

Use the NHS guidelines to set up your workspace correctly, as much as you possibly can.

3. Set Boundaries in Your Household

Setting boundaries with other members of your household is key to mental wellbeing while working at home.

It can be challenging to set firm boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ when you are always home. Small children may think that you are home because you aren’t working and want to spend time with you.

Discuss your needs with your family. Remind them that you still have work to do and need quiet time to do it.

4. Break Up Your Day with a Walk or Exercise

Break up the workday with movement. Working from home means you might be spending a lot more time without moving your body, which can make you feel stiff or tense.

This can be a quick burst of movement (like jumping jacks, or lifting kettlebells) or some lower impact movement like a walk.

If possible, set a time to go for a walk, run, or bike ride for some fresh air – just make sure to stay at least 2-metres apart from others, in line with social distancing guidance.

NHS recommends to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity a week, but the more the better.

Examples of moderate-intensity activities:

  •  Brisk walking
  • Water aerobics
  • Riding a bike
  • Dancing
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading

Examples of vigorous activities:

  • Jogging or running
  • Swimming fast
  • Riding a bike fast or on hills
  • Walking up the stairs
  • Sports, like football, rugby, netball, and hockey
  • Skipping rope
  • Aerobics

Exercising can lower anxiety. According to NHS, exercise helps to boost levels of the hormones called serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which can lift your mood.

5. Do Things You Enjoy

One of the biggest perks of working from home is that you can do things you might not be able to do if you’re in an office all day.

Try to do things that bring you joy every day. Be it listening to music, reading, or any other hobbies you have.

Stay connected to people you love and don’t forget to use your annual leave to relax and recharge.

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