Many of us have been working from home, either fully, in bursts or part-time for the better part of a year as the world tackles the COVID-19 global pandemic. Whilst it may not be possible for some employees to conduct their jobs from home, many people have opted or needed to do so in the interest of social distancing and safety. Some companies have now gone so far as offering employees the chance to work from home permanently, even after the pandemic has been eliminated. Some may relish the idea of working from home, finding themselves to have more autonomy over their working day, more time to focus on themselves and their family, less stress and are finding there working day more productive. Others may prefer the communal space of the office and are struggling with a work day at home. Whether it is mandatory or you have opted to work from home at this time, some approaches to home working life could actually be detrimental to your mood, and changing your approach may improve your day of remote working – whether minimally or substantially enough for you to enjoy your current arrangement.
Arrange Your Workspace
One thing you have probably heard a million times by now is ‘do not work from your bed’. And although this may not be possible for some, if it is for you, try to set up a separate workspace that can mentally segregate your work life from your home life. Setting up a desk space, even a small one, that you can leave every day at the end of your working day, may help to reduce stress and unblur the lines between your work and home life. Not working in your room, will help you sleep better at night – again improving your mood.
It is also important to try and set up your workspace as best you can. If possible arrange your desk by a bright window to allow for some daylight to come into the room – which can help to boost your mood. Set your desk up ergonomically, so your chair supports your back, and your monitor is at the right level – this may avoid muscle pain. Clear away clutter from your desk for a ‘stress free environment’ and even add in objects that make you happy, such as photographs or plants.
Turn Up For Yourself
If you are working from home, you may have begun the process (way back when) feeling a sense of novelty that came from being able to work in your comfy clothes, even your pyjamas, taking extra time in bed or doing your own thing rather than choosing your outfit. However, as the pandemic has drawn on and most of us are confined to our homes for more time than before, the option to wear sweatpants, pyjamas and comfy old t-shirts has become the norm. This may actually be depressing for some, or create a chain reaction of not taking care of yourself. By reversing this process, taking part in some personal grooming, picking out a nice outfit, to attend both work and your days off, may actually boost your mood.
Huffington Post recently discussed how the way you dress whilst working from home can affect your day to day mood. Speaking to Huffington Post, Tracy Thomas, an emotional scientist, psychologist and interventionist, said that putting effort into our appearance “one of the most important things people can do for their emotional, mental and psychological health,” stating: “If you’re dazzling and sparkling, even if it’s just putting on a necklace with your tracksuit, you actually will feel more dazzling and sparking in life.” Sheva Assar, a licensed clinical psychologist, added that getting dressed in the morning can “increase our motivation to do other things throughout the day, to experience more energy and to want to do more things.”
However, this can vary from person to person. Some people may feel happier not worrying about their appearance, and find putting together an outfit, doing their hair, or make-up rather stressful. In this case, find some other ways of self-care every morning before work to turn up for yourself.
Take Care of Your Mental Health
Take breaks. I repeat. Take breaks. Many people have a tendency when working from home, not only to get distracted, but to work through lunch breaks and over their designated hours for a multitude of reasons. Working from home makes over-working dangerously easy, but this can lead to mental stress and burnout. If needed, set timers on your phone or computer to prompt you to take time away from your desk. Whether this is to get a refreshment, take some time outside or watch an episode of something on your lunch break. Do it.
One thing that also comes from working remotely is a sense of isolation, and whilst a reprieve from social interaction can be warranted and needed at times, long periods of isolation can become taxing on our mental health. Reach out to friends and family to chat and catch up, and even perhaps take some time in your companies’ business calls to ask how your colleagues are, maintaining that emotional relationship and unity.
If you are struggling with stress levels, it may be worth looking into meditation exercises, yoga or other relaxation practices. If your mental state begins impacting your life however, be sure to consult a therapist or doctor.