It’s Mental Health Awareness week, so it feels like a a good time to talk about our mental health especially since most of us have been working from home for a while. I must admit at the start of lock down (due to co-vid 19) I, like many thought it would be fun to work from home. Firstly, the big bonus was no daily commute to contend with, no office politics to deal with and I could be as anti-social as I wanted to be. But as the reality stepped in, I soon discovered working from home wasn’t as plain sailing as I had first hoped. I feel I am getting just as stressed meeting tight deadlines, am working harder and longer hours than ever to avoid looking like I’m chilling out at home. Plus with the current climate, I’m also feeling quite anxious and unsettled too.
Learning to switch off
But what I’m struggling with the most, is switching off after my daily work hours have finished which a daily commute when leaving the office would have solved. Working from home has proved to be a challenge I wasn’t expecting mentally.
Thankfully, I’ve gained myself a new daily routine to solve my new dilemmas. I’ve de-cluttered my home office and made it into my own personal office space. Instead of feeling cramped and a hub for the whole family to use, its now become more inviting and tidy and more importantly my own workspace were I can shut the home office door and leave the day behind after hours. As for daily exercise and mentally switching off, I’ve made sure I have a lunch break by taking my dog for a walk, the great thing about dogs is they know their routine off by heart, soon as the whining begins 10 minutes before 12, I know it’s time for me to take a break and leave the home office. Then we go for another walk once I have finished my day. I found this has helped me gain control and has taught me to switch off from work completely. To the point I am now I am enjoying working from home!
But were all different, so I have put together a few tips to beat the blues and survive the lock down which I felt might be beneficial to share with you all.
- Have a routine – and stick to it as much as possible. You could set your schedule as if you are still going into the office, including setting a time to turn off your computer.
- Keep healthy habits – for example sleep, diet and hydration. We should be getting between 7-9 hours of sleep each night, allowing the body to heal and recharge. If we get less than this, we create a sleep debt which can accumulate. His tip was to sleep early and wake up early.
- Exercise – we need around 150 minutes of cardio exercise a week, which is the equivalent of 5 brisk 30 minute walks a day.
- Set personal goals/ hobbies – it’s good to have a goal to focus on and have purpose. Now is the perfect time to immerse yourself in a new or existing hobby or maybe enroll on a free online learning course, its a great way to take your focus away from the anxieties of the current situation.
- Avoid over exposure of media – make time away from screens.
- Nature – it’s good for us to get fresh air, sunlight and be around nature. Perhaps you could get out of the house around lunch time to break up your workday.
- Meditation and breathing exercises – there are lots of apps and videos online to try this out. I use a free app called ‘Breathwrk: Breathing Exercises’ which I would recommend, but there are lots out there.
- Embrace discomfort – address your feelings, both good and bad. We don’t have to like what’s happening, but it helps to focus on the things that are in our control about it.
- Stay connected – this is a challenge in the current situation, but it’s good to check in with friends and family that you can’t see in person at least once a week. Try free apps such as Facetime, WhatsApp, Duo, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
Most of all, remember to make time for yourself. Its so hard to get caught up in the moment but we can all get through this surreal time together!
I would love to hear from you guys and see how you have all been coping with the lock down and working from home. Please feel free to comment below.