WFH life – How to manage your mental health, remotely

As the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, businesses and employees alike had to rapidly adapt to working remotely.  

Many of us have enjoyed some of the benefits that come from working from home. Hours typically spent commuting every day is valuable time we get back with our families. We have the freedom to pop on an extra load of washing in our tea break or go for a swim at the beach during lunch. 

At the same time, working remotely has thrown up unique challenges for our health and wellbeing. Between social isolation, burnout, stress from dealing with new technologies, to the blurring of lines between work and family life, it’s essential to look out for your emotional wellness in the home office. With many of us having worked remotely for the best part of a year, these steps will help you get back into a sustainable routine and put some healthy habits in place – which you can continue if and when you return to the office. 

  1.  Set up a designated workspace

Just because you’re working from home, that doesn’t mean your entire house should be your workplace. By assigning one part of your home as your work space, you can help keep boundaries between your work life and home life separate. And as a general rule, never do work in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be for sleeping and relaxation – introducing the distraction of your work laptop into this space can make it all the more difficult to switch off from work and may disrupt your sleep. 

  1. Plan a schedule, and stick to it

Set up a routine for yourself, like you do in the office. Establish a regular start time, and set aside time in your day for morning tea, exercise, and lunch. It’s especially important that you stick to your finish time, to avoid work encroaching on downtime that you normally spend on your hobbies or with loved ones. We understand that some days throw up curveballs that disrupt your routine, but try and stick to your schedule where possible. And if you absolutely have to work later one day, ensure you give yourself some extra time for your wellbeing the day following. 

  1. Stay connected with people

When you’re working remotely, connecting with others is harder, and we can easily fall into the trap of spending a whole day without any meaningful interaction with another person. Ongoing social isolation can have serious implications for our mental health. So, take advantage of the technology at your disposal and schedule regular video calls  with your colleagues, friends and family to check in and enjoy a chat. 

  1. Exercise and stay active

Because we don’t actually have to leave the house and go to the office, our exercise habits can fall down on the priority list. However, it is essential that you put in an effort to stay active and get regular exercise. This is a key way we can relieve stress, increase the flow of endorphins, and protect our physical and mental health.  If possible, try and get outside in the fresh air at least once a day. If you are not feeling comfortable, or physically unable to leave the house, there are many apps and online videos that guide us through workouts that we can easily do at home. 

  1. Switch off in the evenings

Between work phones, work computers, and personal tablets and laptops, we are increasingly surrounded by technology. One thing that can blur the work/home boundaries more than anything else is keeping our work technology switched on and active, 24/7.   Time spent unwinding and enjoying dinner time can be thwarted by seeing an email notification – and before we know it, we’re still working at 9pm. Get into the habit of shutting down your work phone and laptop each evening to remove any temptation.