Managing Your Mental Health in a Remote Workplace
According to research, remote working can make you 20-25% more productive. However, while this is good for your workload, it’s not always a great thing for one’s mental health.
Working from one’s home blurs a lot of boundaries many of us aren’t even aware of, which can cause significant mental/emotional strain. Given this, it’s not surprising that 45% of Americans in a recent survey reported experiencing a drop in mental health since working from home.
Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to support your mental wellbeing while working remotely. Working in one’s own private space has many perks, and if you implement the right tweaks, you’ll be able to enjoy these and significantly upgrade your mental health.
Ready to start tending to your mental wellbeing and living the WFH dream—minus the stress? Yes? Keep reading to implement our best work from home tips.
Create an Effective Schedule (and Stick To It)
One of the first and most important remote working tips is to create a schedule for yourself.
One of the biggest advantages of working from home is the flexibility to create and control your own schedule.
However, many people skip this part. They don’t create a schedule. Instead, they just wake up and take the day as it comes.
Unfortunately, instead of giving you control over your day, this literally robs you of control. Without a game plan, and dedicated timeslots for certain things, you might easily find your productivity is sabotaged, and you’re constantly torn between tasks.
Creating a schedule is essential because it allows us to create a roadmap for the ideal day. It also sets boundaries in place and helps to keep you on task and focused.
The other key to creating a WFH schedule is to stick to it. A schedule is worse than useless if you don’t follow it, so try your best to stay on track with the schedule you’ve created.
If you find that you’re not adhering to it, take some to analyze why. Maybe you need to tweak things a little so it better compliments your routine, personality, home responsibilities, etc.
Also, keep in mind that there will be times when it’s appropriate to “break” your schedule. According to survey results, 40% of people report having flexibility over their schedule is the best part of remote working. Take advantage of this when you need to, but don’t abuse it, as this can cause added stress.
Guard Your Time
Another component of hacking WHF and creating an effective schedule is guarding your time. When you work from home and have a flexible schedule, oftentimes people assume that you’re available at all times. This goes for both your work connections and your family and friends.
Once you have established a schedule, some of the secrets of sticking to it are:
- Communicating when you’re available to other people
- Setting boundaries
- Learning how to say no
That friend who’s asking you to babysit? Or that colleague who keeps sending work-related whatsapps at 9 pm? Both of these are situations where you perfectly entitled to set a boundary.
Saying no to the friend who thinks that part of working from home is being able to shoot off to take care of other people’s kids is perfectly reasonable. Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean you suddenly have to do less work to do in the day.
And the college who wants to ask you “urgent” questions after hours could benefit from understanding the value of on-time and off-time.
Don’t be shy to communicate your needs and boundaries to others, even if it’s those you live with. Having the strength to say “this is my work time and I need to focus” can do wonders for reducing stress.
Stress is responsible for a myriad of issues, including premature aging, chronic disease, and decreased productivity. So do yourself a favor and say no when you need to, without any guilt.
Carve Out Breaks
When it comes to WFH and mental health, another vital practice is to carve out breaks for yourself. This, too, ties in with creating an effective schedule that caters to your needs.
If you fail to incorporate breaks, you might easily find your self:
- Losing focus during the day
- Burning out over the long-term
- Taking unplanned breaks that are too long or ineffective
Of course, the length and timing of your breaks is up to you (unless you have a prescribed structure from your workplace). Just make sure that you actually take your breaks, and time them effectively so you can gain the most from them.
For instance, say you see a pattern that you lose focus around 3 pm. This might be an ideal time to get off the PC, make some tea, do a few quick stretches, or quickly fold the washing.
A great way to stay on track with breaks is to set a timer, both for when they start and when they end. If you want to really ramp up your break and focus game, you can also try out techniques like the Pomodoro method.
Level Up Your Workspace
So…how’s that workspace looking? If you’re like most of us, the pandemic forced you into making do with working on the kitchen table, at the dressing table of the guest bedroom, or even, in bed.
While working in bed might sound attractive to begin with, it’s an agreed no-no for productivity and mental health. Experts agree that working from one’s bed can wreak havoc with one’s sleep, relationships, and productivity.
One of the reasons for this the lack of boundaries between work and relaxation. If you work and sleep in your bed, your subconscious brain can easily get confused and associate your bed with work when you want to sleep, and vice versa when you want to work.
This same principle applies to other areas of your home. By working in designated relaxation areas, you are continually blurring the boundaries between work and downtime, which is one of the core issues around working from home and mental wellness.
To create clear boundaries between work and home life, set up a designated workstation. Even if this is a small desk within a large living space, you’ll still reap the benefits of better focus, clearer boundaries, and enhanced organization.
Communicate Clearly With Co-Workers, Managers, and Clients
Another issue with working remotely, that can affect mental health, is communication. Although we have a plethora of tools for remote communication, in reality, none of these are as good as in-person conversations.
In-person, we can pick up on body language, tone of voice, and the intent of the person. When speaking virtually, whether by email, text, or video, it’s easy for misunderstandings to develop.
To reduce issues and stress, be extra aware of this in all your communications. Go out of your way to be clear, double-check to gauge how your meaning might come across, and query any communications you feel unclear around.
This will help to reduce miscommunication, whether it’s with other co-workers, managers, or private clients.
Make Time for the People Who Matter
If you’re an achiever who’s working from home, it can be easy to fall into an “always-on” mentality. Instead of coming home and switching off, you might be constantly feeling the need to squeeze more work into each day.
Falling into this trap can have a significant negative impact on relationships with those close to you. Instead of spending care-free quality time with your partner, friends, or family, you’re glued to the screen round the clock.
If you feel like you’re starting to neglect the people that matter, make a point to schedule out time for them. Whether this is via a phone called, having simple chat with your spouse, or doing date night—allow space in your daily schedule for connecting to the people you care about.
It’s well known that connecting to loved ones and gaining social support can improve one’s health. It can also buffer the negative effects of stress, which include depression, anxiety, hair loss, decreased productivity, and more.
Get Out of the House
One of the upsides to remote working is you get to spend more time at home. However, the old adage “too much of a good thing” is real, and it’s important that you change up your surroundings from time to time.
Can’t remember the last time you left home? If so, you can try switching things up by working from a coffee shop every once in a while, joining a co-working space, or planning recreational outings after hours or first thing in the morning.
Exercise (Preferably in Nature)
At this stage, we all know that exercise is essential, both for physical health and mental wellbeing. However, it’s doubly important if you’re working from home.
For one, the strain that remote working can bring means you need to dedicate even more time to caring for your mental health. Research has proven that exercise can significantly improve one’s mental wellbeing by bettering one’s mood, self-esteem, energy levels, and serotonin production.
However, carving out time to exercise while working from home can be challenging, thanks to the blurring of work/life boundaries.
If you’ve started skipping your workouts in favor of fitting in an extra 45 minutes of work, re-evaluate your schedule and prioritize time for working out.
If you want to really ramp up the mental health benefits of your workout routine, try to do your exercise outdoors. Not only will you be getting your sweat on, but you’ll also get out of the house, and reap the benefits of being in nature and the open air.
Develop a Mental Health Routine
As we just mentioned, one of the most essential tips around self-care and WFH is creating a mental health routine. With the added mental stress of working from home, plus everything else that’s going on in the world, it’s critical that you dedicate time to catering to your mental health.
Apart from exercising, there are various things you can do to boost your mental wellness. Popular practices include:
- Gratitude practices
To get started, block out some time in the day to dedicate to your mental health. The best time for this is usually first thing in the morning, as it creates a mental and emotional setpoint for the day. Pick one or two practices and test them out.
Feel free to adapt, change, or rotate your practices, depending on what works best for you. Everyone is wired differently, and what works for some people might be less effective for you. Experiment until you find a few mental health practices that get you in the right mindset, and then commit to doing these every day.
Focus on the Benefits of WFH
As you might know, one of the secrets of mental wellbeing is focusing on the positive.
If you’re struggling with WFH and mental health, there are probably concrete reasons for this that you might need to tend to. However, there’s a lot to be said for also shifting one’s focus slightly to also acknowledge the benefits of working from home.
Need some reminders? Some of the positives of working remotely include:
- Less commuting
- Money savings
- Fewer co-worker distractions
- Potentially better work/life balance
- Location flexibility
- More time at home
- Flexibility in your office space
- Enhanced productively
To starting appreciating the positive aspects of working from home, spend some time daily thinking about these benefits.
And if you find after a while that they still don’t outweigh the stress you’re experiencing? If you’ve implemented the tips in this guide and still can’t seem to shift the needle on your mental wellness, this might be one of the signs it’s time for a new job.
If your company isn’t doing its bit to support its remote workers and facilitate mental wellbeing, then you might also be the victim of an unhealthy company culture.
WHF-Related Stress Causing Hairloss
If your mental health is suffering from sub-par WHF conditions, this can trigger myriad negative effects. Fortunately, you can combat this by optimizing your self-care and WHF routine. By following the above work from home tips you can enjoy better productivity, work/life balance, focus, and health.
However, what if the stress and disruption of working from home has already taken its toll in the form of hair loss? If thinning hair is stressing you out as much as your work, seek out hair restoration solutions online. This can help you regain your confidence and avoid continued hair loss.