Tips to Balance Mental Wellness and Remote Work

For some, remote work is uncharted territory – for others, it’s just another Thursday. Nearly 25% of U.S workers work remotely, but for employees who are new to working from home, it can be a major transition. For some people, being a remote employee can feel overwhelming.

Getting into a steady work routine and structure at home may not be easy for many. There will be setbacks and stressors along the way. To help, we’re offering a few tips and techniques for stressed-out professionals.

1. Structure Your Day

Know when you want to start and end your workday, and if you need to take a break from your screen, schedule it in.

Angela, a channel marketing manager and full-time remote employee for three years, said “Break your time up into blocks. If you don’t have designated times when you’re committed to prioritizing work, you might end up trying to juggle housework, office work, and your kids at the same time. Making work the main focus in designated hours is key to feeling less chaotic”.

If you’re accustomed to structure, it can help you cross more tasks off your to-do list. Palmer advised, “Having a predictable structure in place often helps people get more accomplished. They can go on autopilot and accomplish the day’s work without having to create a new plan every day”.

2. Be Protective of Your Time

Not commuting to work can have its drawbacks. Since your home is your office, it can feel difficult to “leave work”, logging more hours as a result.

Just like you have your time in the office, you should have office hours for your remote work. Share these times with your coworkers and the people in your household.

In addition, if you’re used to taking a 30-minute lunch every day, continue to do so when working from home. Taking a break is good for your body and your mind, and if a break is part of your routine, continuing to do so will make the transition feel less disruptive.

3. Keep Your Morale High by Staying Connected

Maybe your desk has become your kitchen table, but that doesn’t mean chitchat with teammates has to end.

Rachel, a financial analyst, lives is in Boston, but her boss for five years lives in Dallas. To maintain a good working relationship, she advised, “Always take time to talk as people don’t fully dedicate all your time in every conversation to talk about work. I’ve only been in person with my boss eight times, but with how much we knew about one another, you’d think we saw each other daily”.

Despite not being together in person, continuing to have lighthearted conversation with your colleagues over email, test, or a messaging system can help you feel less alone. Human interaction, digital or not, can make a big difference in productivity and mental health.

If you are feeling stress or anxiety and you know coworkers will be supportive, seek them out and talk with them to find out what they do to cope.

For many, expressing vulnerability or asking coworkers or the boss for help may be difficult. But if bosses and coworkers look out for one another, we can all create compassionate and healthy workplaces.

4. Realize That Every Day Will Provide Its Own Obstacles

Just like every day in an office is different, every day when working at home will provide productive moments – and challenging ones too.

With pets, children, or other loved ones at home, you might find your new “coworkers” distracting or disruptive. Or you may find that everyone else at home is streaming movies, so you can’t download a big file for a presentation.

Be compassionate towards yourself as you navigate remote work, and practice self-care that lowers your anxiety.

5. Remain Flexible

Productivity may look different when working at home, but you can still end up accomplishing your tasks.

Just like your work in style in the office may differ from that of your peers, your work style at home may differ from your norm at work.

Despite Angela’s tenure in working remotely, she shared, “I am constantly readjusting my strategy to be a more successful work-from-home employee”.

Lately, she has found success in using the Pomodoro Technique for work.

She explained, “It’s based on a kitchen timer: 25 minutes of work and a 5-minute break, repeated all day long. I find it easier to commit to 25minutes at a time than the prospect of a full 8-hour day”. Pomodoro Technique or otherwise, working remotely is a great way to figure out the working style that is best for you.

If you feel stressed out by missing or changing routines, It’s important to recognize that feeling stressed is not helping your situation and may make things worse. Because stress can prevent you from thinking clearly, it can also keep you from being productive.

It’s important to try to mange this feeling. Try deep breathing, taking short breaks to clear your mind, meditating, or practicing mindfulness. You can also try to distract yourself with another activity, like vigorous exercise.

6. Take Care of Yourself

Basic self-care is essential to keeping yourself healthy and happy.

While working from home may sound like a good opportunity to stay in pajamas, it could actually hinder your productivity.

Alice, a communications director in health care, shared, “Get dressed like you’re going to leave the house. That alone can change your mindset altogether”.

She also explained the importance of using what would have been your commuting time to do something productive for yourself. “If you carved out 60 minutes a day for getting to and from your job, use that as an opportunity to exercise, meditate, or just drink water”, she said.

Spouses, children, and other loved ones can also support you in your work from home adjustments. This can include being mindful of anything they are doing that might be disruptive or problematic, such as noise levels from television or video games, or simply asking how they can be helpful.

When everyone shows interest in being helpful and offering to help, this provides a fair amount of relief.

Whether you are a seasoned work-from-home professional or a new to remote work, there’s no time like the present to prioritize mental well-being.

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