Coronavirus: Managing Your Mental Health While Working From Home
So the Coronavirus has prompted countless companies to close their offices and offer their employees options to work remotely.
Now even though working from home at first might seem exciting, it also certainly comes with a lot of challenges and uncertainty. So we wanted to put this video together to highlight 5 key tips on how you can manage your mental health, while working from home during this period.
Before we start, it’s important to pay attention to updates your company will make during this period. And alongside these 5 tips, if your company provides a working from home policy, reference it to help you manage any up front expectations.
So if you’ve never worked from home before over a long period of time, if you’re worried about how working from home will impact your performance and also if you’re worried about dealing with distractions, we’re hoping these 5 tips will help.
Tip 1: Stay Connected
One of the biggest challenges around this time is the isolation leading to a lack of connection and loneliness. This is a big challenge many working from home in general face, but with the added requirement to isolate it will certainly cause challenges. When we also feel isolated and lonely, it can have a real impact on our productivity. So it’s important to keep connected during this time, and luckily technology allows us to do that.
We’d advise to still have your team meetings, stay connected with clients, keep in touch with colleagues and in fact over communication in this period will really help.
Utilise tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, Skype, and even Whatsapp or Facetime video chat to keep connected. It’s also very easy to avoid video when working from, but psychologically video chat can really help humanize the communication as well.
We can’t stress enough how important it is to stay connected in this period, even if it’s just a video chat with a colleague to hear how they’re getting on or it could be simple communication with your time asking how everyone is getting on… this time will be challenging if you don’t stay connected and there’s no reasons why we can’t with the technology now at our disposal.
Tip 2: Keep A Similar Routine
Now we know your routine is going to change a lot during this period, but trying to keep your routine as close to the routine you lead when physically going to work will help. It’s going to be very easy to wake up later, get dressed later or lounge around and try to work, it’s going to be easy to skip the workout you normally do or eat a bigger breakfast in the morning…
But try and match your routine, as close as possible. For example: Wake up at the same time, get up in the same way, follow a similar morning routine and wear similar clothes you’d normally wear to the office. Take lunch at the same time, finish work at the same time etc.
We know it’s going to be awkward at the beginning, especially when the Postman knocks and you answer in your suit… but it’s very easy to completely change routine due to the flexibility of working from home.
The closer you can match your day – to – day routine, the easier you’ll find it and the more productive you’ll be.
Tip 3: Manage Expectations and Workload
When you work remotely, your mind will naturally judge how well you’re working and it’s normally overly critical. Because you’re not in an environment surrounded by your co-workers, it’s often hard to keep yourself accountable.
This reverts back to point 1 again, over communication is hugely important. What are you expected to do today, tomorrow, and the week ahead? Does your company or your manager understand the challenges that you might be facing while you work from home during this period? Does your company have a ‘working from home’ policy in place you can refer too?
One of the things we focus on at Everymind at Work is normalising conversations that may be slightly difficult to have, and this period is a great time to do exactly that. In most cases, everyone is going to be in a similar position. But again, everyone will be dealing with it differently. So the clearer the expectations on what you need to do, the more you can focus and not worry about others judging you. So have a conversation up front, and get clear expectations of what needs to be done so you can focus and deliver.
When it comes to your workload, it’s easy to set yourself a huge to do list at the beginning of every day and put pressure on yourself to complete it all. When you work from home, you feel like you have the whole day ahead of you. But working remotely comes with a number of distractions that can get in your way. Prioritise your tasks, make sure their in alignment with the expectations that’s been set and you’ll find not only will you become more productive but you won’t worry as much about not delivering.
Tip 4: Control Your Environment
So now you’re working from home, you can work from bed right? Netflix on in the background? Cup of coffee on the side? You’ll soon discover that your productivity and general mood will be impacted if you don’t control your environment.
Similar to following a similar routine, try to control the environment you’re working in and minimise distractions.
For example: Work at a desk, a table and make sure your chair is comfortable. It’s not always easy, but because we don’t know how long this will go on maybe setting yourself up a makeshift work space in a room that’s quiet would be hugely valuable for now.
Minimise distractions, keeping the TV off, and keeping your phone on Aeroplane mode as it’s certainly easier to sit on it for a longer period of time when no ones over your shoulder watching. Not all distractions can be stopped, but minimise as many as possible.
It’s also important to change your environment from time to time, take short breaks, open windows to get some fresh air, make a coffee and grab a snack at times you would within the office… Sitting in the one place all day won’t improve your effectiveness.
Tip 5: Utilise Lost Commute Time
This is a real opportunity to focus on you, and your mental health during this period. We don’t want to react, we want to proactively make sure we’re looking after ourselves and our mental health. How long does your commute to work normally take? Even if it’s a short 10 minute drive, you now have 20 minutes extra in the day to focus on you and focus on self care.
For many, their commute can be up to an hour a day one way. So with two hours now available per day, it’s important to try and utilise this time as best as you can.
What can you do in the morning to set you up for a good day?
Maybe it’s reading the book you’ve been putting off, starting an exercise regime at home, cooking a healthier lunch or breakfast, meditation, journalling or spending more time with the family…
What can you do in the evening to help keep your mind active and get yourself excited for the next day?
Try to utilise some of the additional time you’ll gain during working from home to focus on you and your mental health.