We are all feeling the struggle of working from home during this Coronavirus outbreak. Still, it is essential we continue to stay healthy both physically and mentally.
For those not used to working from home, it can be a challenge to begin. It becomes even more difficult when you struggle with a mental illness. Things like time management, distraction, and social isolation can become a challenge to overcome. With no boss next to you or time clock to punch into, starting each day at the correct time can be a challenge. For others, it could be that you work endlessly, not leaving time to relax.
We know a lot of people are working from home at this time, here are some tips to stay mentally healthy during this time.
1) Create Structure
We recommend that you begin and end each day at the same time, just as you would in the office. Humans are creatures of habit and routines help us to mentally and physically prepare for things. Keeping the same schedule can be challenging for many people, as it means starting or ending your day at any time. Sticking to your regular work schedule helps you to get your work done and finish your day at the proper time. By keeping structure to your day, you can increase your productivity while also giving yourself the downtime you need to recover.
2) Identify what you need to get your work done
Separating personal and professional time is already a tough task in the age of technology and social media. Set your desk or table up, similar to what you would have in your office. Not everyone has a dedicated office and may be working in different spots around the house or apartment. It’s essential to dedicate a work zone and try your best to replicate your office. Make sure to limit your access to social media sites as they can be easy distractions at home. If dealing with children or teens being home during this time, I recommend getting a pair of noise-canceling headphones. They can help to keep your focus on the work that needs to get done and eliminate the noise of the home.
3) Map out your day
Productivity does require a specific plan. At the beginning of each day, map out what projects or goals you need to do to make your day a success. Set yourself up for success by making realistic and achievable goals each day. Goals help not to overextend or overcommit yourself. Remember to keep your well-being at priority number one.
Many of us are also dealing with children being home from school during this time, and it can impact your work time. Make sure you are communicating with your bosses regarding these situations and set realistic goals for completing tasks. At this time, it’s okay to turn down projects or push back deadlines if that is an option.
4) Make time for healthy habits
Keeping your stress levels down, especially for those who are dealing with a mental illness is incredibly necessary when working from home. It can be easy to lose yourself in your work and not allow for personal time. You must keep up healthy habits when at home. Take breaks throughout the day. Great examples of breaks include going for a walk outside, eating lunch on your patio, or just resting for 5-10 minutes on your couch. Breathing or meditation exercises are also great ways to take a quick break from the computer or project. Check out our blog on Anxiety and Coronavirus for a few breathing exercises.
5) Socialize with your colleagues
Working from home can bring about loneliness, disconnection, and isolation, and staying socially active with your colleagues can be the key to eliminating these feelings during this time. Technology can come in real handy, and people are getting creative on how to socialize with friends. Most companies have a chat tool where employees can communicate daily. Use this if it is available. There are also numerous free video chat tools, like Zoom or Skype, where you can video chat with friends and colleagues. Try to set time aside each day to hanging out those close to you. Try a team video lunch or a team after work video sessions and see what happens!
6) Understand that a bad day is going to happen
Know that a good day and a bad day at work are going to happen during this time. Make sure to try and prepare yourself for the tough days and work to keep your self-criticism to a minimum. Some days you may need a few extra minutes to get yourself into professional mode, and other days you may not reach the goals you set for yourself. At the end of each day, write down three things from the workday that you were proud to complete. An example could be as simple as an email to a colleague or boss.
Follow these tips and you’ll protect your mental health from the loneliness, anxiety, and depression that many experiences. Working from home can be a blessing, but it can also come with challenges. While working from home requires some adjustments in habits and routines, we must work to understand how to live and work, healthily—both from the office and from home.
Reach out to someone you trust, speak to your doctor, or find a mental health professional if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety. You’re not alone. And remember, tomorrow is always a fresh start.