Working from home has become an overnight reality for millions of people worldwide, and due to the disruptive nature of COVID-19, it’s doubtful that this will change any time soon. With obvious benefits coming from this remote way of working, it’s a trend that has been growing in appeal globally for the past decade.
As cries for a more favourable work-life balance grow alongside evolving forms of technology, working from home has become a viable way to help you spend less money while spending more time with your loved ones.
However, as a study from the UN has found, remote forms of working can also lead to higher levels of stress in the long run, with 41% of individuals who work remotely considering themselves to be ‘highly stressed’ compared to 25% of those working on site. In addition to this, missing out on the critical face to face support and water-cooler chit-chat has been proven to increase feelings of loneliness and disconnection, which can have serious repercussions on mental health.
Combine this with the heightened anxiety of living through a pandemic, and finding strategies to manage this stress and look after your mental wellbeing are becoming more critical than ever. Here we outline 5 simple ways to manage stress and stay sane while working from home, helping you to protect your mental wellbeing and in turn bolstering your productivity in the workforce.
Carving out a workspace
If you’re not lucky enough to have your own office to work in, it’s likely you’re part of the majority who are working out of your bedroom or living room. Living and working in the same room can create a blurring of lines that lead to Netflix-ing in the middle of a workday or waking up to reply to an e-mail at 2 am.
For the sake of a healthy work-life balance, carving out a dedicated office space and imposing strict timetables is essential. Ensuring your workspace is organised and free from distractions and giving yourself regimented breaks is key in creating healthy distinctions between working and relaxing.
From doing a 15 minute Joe Wicks work out video with your kids to going for a jog around your local park, exercising can be the perfect antidote to work-related stress or low mood generated by cabin fever.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that healthy individuals partake in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes high-intensity physical activity each week, with regular exercise being proven to significantly reduce anxiety and depression, while also enhancing cognitive function and alleviating symptoms of social withdrawal.
Mindfulness and meditation
A valuable way to gain control over pervasive and unhelpful thoughts that may arise during this period of the ‘new normal’, is to practice techniques of meditation and mindfulness. By simply taking a couple of minutes out of your daily routine to connect and pay attention to the present moment, meditation can dramatically lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol which in turn reduces levels of anxiety and depression.
Incorporating mindful practices into your new workplace can also help you routinely bring your focus back to the work at hand, without getting carried away by dominant emotions or judgements. Guided meditation is widely available on apps such as Headspace and Calm, and there are also many free videos on Youtube.
Alternative therapies – CBD Oil
Another way to soothe the anxieties and distractions that can derive from working remotely is through the use of Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is a non-psychoactive chemical compound found in marijuana, that helps to calm the mind by balancing the brain’s dopamine levels. CBD has been found to have beneficial applications in relieving people suffering from anxiety and depression, and subsequently can contribute to improved concentration and cognitive behaviour, as a study by Kings College has shown.
Although best used in conjunction with other things mentioned in this list, CBD can provide a myriad of mental and physical health benefits that can help you adjust to the difficulties of working from home.
With isolation and loneliness being some of the leading reasons working from home can take its toll on your mental health, it’s super important to maintain communication with your work colleges. Feedback and encouragement are critical when it comes to workplace productivity, so when you’re lacking the social interaction from traditional office environments, platforms like Zoom and GoToMeeting help you maintain connections with your superiors while working remotely.
Aside from the more formal interactions, catching up on workplace banter is proven to be equally as beneficial. Colleges who spend just 15 minutes sharing their feelings of stress with their peers, see a performance increase of 20%, so setting up virtual lunches or coffee breaks can not only enhance your mental wellbeing but your productivity as well.
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