During the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, working from home became a new experience to adapt to and cope with. Even those of us used to being home-based had to juggle homeschooling and sharing space with newly baptised corporate homeworkers! Under normal circumstances, we need to ensure we look after our mental health. With global concerns, financial pressures and busy lives, it is even more important to prioritise, so these are simple ways to improve your mental health when working from home.
Get the foundations in place
In order to look after yourself, give yourself the best chance of success, work better, feel better and communicate well, a solid foundation is crucial.
A good trifecta is balanced nutrition, quality sleep, and regular exercise.
Eating well, sleeping well, and prioritising your fitness are important in staying healthy overall. In turn it means we can cope better with stress, fight off illnesses easier, and respond more positively to circumstances outside of our control.
- When working from home, try to take proper breaks for lunch, tea and coffee, and regular screen breaks.
- Switch off in the evenings to give you good downtime before bed.
- Batch prep nutritious snacks that are easy to grab instead of sugar-laden ones.
- Try to incorporate a walk, or morning workout in your routine. Move regularly throughout the day to avoid suffering discomfort from poor posture.
Read about the importance of good ergonomics in your home office.
Social connections are vital to maintaining good mental health. Not only are they fun, and a good way to help you switch off from work, they provide a sense of belonging and mutual understanding. By having regular contact with people you trust, you can have a vent, talk through any issues that are bothering you, and get some fresh perspectives.
Arrange regular catch-ups, or phone calls with friends, or join a community group. When you are at work, there are ways you can recreate the ‘watercooler’ even when you are working from home.
Connect with nature
The benefits of connecting with nature on your mental health are well-known. It can boost your mood, help reduce stress, and elicit feelings of calm and joy. There are ways to do this even when you work remotely. In fact, it is often easier to bring nature into your day when you are homeworking
- Take at least one of your breaks outside for some fresh air and a chance to destress. Even a short ten-minute breather can help.
- Replace your commute with a short walk or some exercise outdoors.
- Have walk-and-talk meetings outside.
- Bring nature to you with houseplants in your workspace.
- Have a gardening break. Get your hands in the earth and do a spot of weeding or tending in your lunch hour.
Look good to feel good
Working from home often means staying in comfortable clothes, maybe even pyjamas. Read here why this is a bad idea. But imagine the difference you might feel if you decided to smarten up. Simply putting on something more formal, making an effort with your hair, putting on a bit of makeup can provide a real boost in confidence.
It isn’t about feeling the need to wear makeup or look a certain way. It is about taking pride in your appearance, looking after yourself, wearing clothes that make you feel good, and putting in that extra effort that means you feel comfortable and confident and even more empowered.
Wear a pair of heels for the day, a blazer for a meeting, or a dash or red lippy just because. It can really give you a little mental boost and maybe even get you in the right frame of mind to be bolder and braver in your work.
Become a Mentor
Giving back and helping others is a fantastic way to induce the feel-good factor.
Sharing your knowledge and time, and seeing the results in others, gives you a sense of accomplishment and aids your spiritual and emotional wellbeing. It also provides a sense of purpose and helps you to commit to something each week.
Whether you do this voluntarily through your work or organisation, or decide to offer a session pro-bono, it can stimulate your brain’s reward centres and help you feel more positive.
It might be that you form a small group or work with somebody to become a mutual mentor so you both gain from each other’s skills and experience.
Always keep your goals in mind. Have something to work towards that helps give you that renewed motivation and sense of purpose. It can prevent you drifting day to day, coasting with no focus that can chip away at your enthusiasm and enjoyment of day to day life.
Look at your schedule and make sure you are blocking out time to work on things which matter to you and help you make progress on your goals.
You need to be proactive in making this happen so you don’t fall into the trap of having your day dictated by other people’s agendas.
Schedule time for self-development
Make sure you are managing your schedule effectively so there is time for higher-level strategic work that moves you forward in your business or career. This is time for you to work on yourself and business and helps you feel in control and moving forwards.
If you feel you are constantly in back to back meetings or always working in your business rather than on it, you may start to feel resentful, stressed, and as if you never have time for yourself or other important work.
Whether or not you are self-employed, this can involve taking courses, having coaching or mentoring, reading relevant books and articles, and doing research.
Give yourself permission to take breaks
I understand how easy it is to stay at the desk when work is ever present. We actually need to remind ourselves to stop and give ourselves permission to take breaks. Regular breaks from the screen help us improve mental health when working from home. In a virtual world, we are prone to working longer hours and doing the majority of our work on a screen, including meetings.
Breaks needn’t be seen as unproductive if you feel guilty about stepping away. They are an opportunity to decompress, to process the work you’ve just done and absorb useful information. Sometimes, it is during a break when our most creative ideas come!
Make time for play and joy in your work. Read the article in the Joy Issue on how to be more playful at work.
Also take time out to do something that nurtures you whether that’s something crafty and artistic, musical, or creative in some way. Singing or sewing, dancing or drawing, everyone has the ability to be creative. It can help release stress and channel your emotions into something healthy and constructive.
Having a quick dance as a movement break can certainly put a smile on your face and even if you work in silence, playing music can help boost your mood and productivity.
Make the most of working from home and the flexibility to make time for your creative endeavours. It means life doesn’t become just work and it will improve your mental health when working from home.
Extra resources: The work from home guide
For more tips on protecting your mental health when working from home, this article also shares valuable information.
Make sure you get a copy of our print magazines. These beautiful print issues are packed with tips including many articles to help improve your mental wellbeing:
Inside the print issues:
- Learn how to successfully switch between work and home life.
- Tips to avoid work from home burnout.
- How to spot the signs of mental health struggles from behind a screen
- Learn how to stay centred and calm in challenging times
- How to sustain a positive mindset when working from home
- Psychologists tips for better mental resilience
Get your copy and find out more here.
For serious mental health concerns, it is always best to see medical advice. For extra support for your mental health, the following organisations can help: