Supporting your mental health while working from home

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Following the PM’s announcement requesting us to stay at home in order to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus, many of us are now working from home to ensure that businesses continue to function as normally as possible during this difficult time.

Working from home can bring a number of challenges, whether they be in-home distractions or general technology frustrations. However, it can also be an isolating and even a lonely experience, especially if you are new to it.

So, what can you do to look after your wellbeing when working from home? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal lives, stay mentally and physically healthy whilst still being a productive and effective worker?

We’ve put together some tips which could help you through your working from home experience.

Routine is key

Although you may have some extra time in bed without a commute, aim to wake up around the same time every day. This helps stabilise your internal clock and improve your sleep overall. You’ll feel less tired, more refreshed, and find it easier to concentrate throughout the day. Stick to your established morning routine if you can – get ready, washed, and dressed as if you are going to the office. This will help you get into the mindset that you are at work.

Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace

Even if you don’t have a study space or spare bedroom with a door, you can still create a work ‘zone’. Keep it free from clutter – this will help ensure you are not distracted. Try to only work when you are in this space, creating a physical and mental boundary between your work and your personal life. Ensure you have set up your IT equipment so that you are comfortable, adjust your chair / screen if you can so that they are at the right height.

Keep moving!

Eat well, sleep well and exercise well – these are the three cornerstones of good physical health, and they should not be ignored just because you are working at home. The Government has granted us allowance to leave the house once a day for exercise or essentials, make good use of this time if you can to go for a walk and get some fresh air. There are also plenty of at home exercise tutorials online which cover the full range of ability levels – from the fittest amongst us to the athletically challenged – and serve as a great way to break up the day. It can be difficult to adjust to working from home. However, if you set healthy boundaries and prioritise your mental and physical wellbeing, you can keep your morale high and continue to be a productive employee.

Take a break

Like any working environment, it is important to take the occasional break to let your brain and body relax. Take a 10-minute walk, make some lunch or catch up with a friend over the phone. Short breaks will help give you the ability to refocus on your work tasks – ultimately supporting both your productivity and mental health. Furthermore, don’t skip lunch and don’t compromise your sleep.

Be a home worker, not a lone worker

Communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone. Work out how you would like to communicate with colleagues, try not to have too many lines of communication open, as this can prove distracting, and keep in touch at regular intervals throughout the day. Whilst most communication will be about work, ensure you engage in personal conversations with each other to reduce the feeling of isolation and bring a bit of normality to your day. Wherever possible, communicate with your colleagues via video chats. Face-to-face conversations help you feel more connected and are typically more engaging than conference calls. There are various technologies available to help facilitate this, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp, etc.

Get support

During times of stress it helps us to stay connected. If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or isolated, remember that support is out there. If your company has trained Mental Health First Aiders or Champions, make a note of their contact details, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with them if you need to. You can also reach out to the Samaritans who offer free, confidential support 24 hours a day on 116 123. Find a list of national mental health services and helplines at mentalhealth.org.uk.