We may have entered a new year, but 2021 has not magically fixed all of the problems going on in the world and with another nationwide lockdown in full swing, it’s a difficult time for many all around the UK and the rest of the world.
For many people, the last year will have been people’s first experience of working from home and all of the different challenges and pressures that can bring. Working from home can be very detrimental to people’s mental health – even those who have previously never had issues. In this article, we’re going to layout some of the best ways to try and improve your mental health whilst working from home.
There are a large number of reasons why working from home can be difficult; some find it very isolating and lonely, some struggle with motivation and some struggle with feeling like there is too much to do and they can’t keep on top of it all.
A great way to help with all of these things is to structure your day and have a plan. Set yourself tasks and goals for the day and check them off once you’ve completed them. You can also set aside specific time slots for certain projects to add more structure to your day.
At the end of the work day, look back at what goals and tasks you have completed and be proud of yourself for everything that you have done.
One of the big dangers of working from home is that it can easily become Living at Work! You’re at home all day, there’s nothing to do, your laptop is there so you can continue to reply to emails and do work all evening.
A common misconception that a lot of people hold about working from home is that people do less work – in almost every situation this is not the case though. People often feel pressured to be working longer hours and not taking breaks because they don’t want their boss or colleagues to think that they’re ‘slacking off'. This coupled with the fact that colleagues can’t see when someone is working on something, or can’t see if they’re on lunch often lead to people working much longer hours than they usually would in the office.
It’s very important to stick to your usual working hours and take your lunch break at a normal time to try and keep with the same routine you would have in the office.
Working from home can be extremely isolating and you may well end up feeling very lonely. Most people are in the same boat here though and most people will want to speak to someone else, so pick up the phone and call a colleague, friend or family member. It’s extremely important to stay connected whilst working from home so try to schedule time to talk to others.
This is especially important if you live alone, or are working at home on your own.
As tempting as it may be to work from your bed or sofa, these aren’t ideal working environments. If you have space in your home, it’s important to try and create a workspace for yourself. This is important for both mental and physical health as sitting in bed or on the sofa is often not good for your back.
Try and find a quiet space away from distractions such as the TV, or the fridge…
Get everything you need in one place, before you start work – chargers, pens, paper and anything else you may need and then try to stick to your routine that you've set.
An important thing to try and remember is that almost everyone is in the same boat and lots of people will be feeling the same as you. Reach out to friends, family and colleagues to see how they are feeling, reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to for a long time, start up a hobby that you’ve been neglecting and try to find some sort of community wherever you can.
This situation isn’t permanent and it will pass, so try to remember this and focus on any of the positives that you can – maybe you have more time to spend with your children, or you’ve become closer to your partner, or even a pet! Whatever positives you can take from this strange and challenging period, try to bring them to the forefront of your mind and stay positive.
If you’re feeling like you need more support, there are a great number of resources which can be found here on the Mental Health at Work website.
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