The worldwide coronavirus pandemic has transformed life as we know it, plunging virtually everyone into a “new normal” that’s redefined what it means to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe.
As part of that new normal, many people are working from home for the first time ever, and many seasoned freelancers and remote workers who’ve worked from home for years are now doing so with their partners, children, or other family members close by most of the time.
If working from home in these uncertain times has left you feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or anxious, take a deep breath — there’s a lot you can do to boost your mood and maintain your mental health. Here are a few suggestions and tips from the team at TMS & Brain Health.
Create a dedicated workspace
Working from home poses two distinct challenges from the outset — how to be productive in a less structured environment, and how to set firm boundaries between ever-present work tasks and your life at home.
To set yourself up for success on both fronts, it’s imperative to create a dedicated workspace that minimizes distraction when you’re working and makes it easier to detach from work at the end of the day.
Think of it this way — a dedicated work area is a physical boundary that helps you set a mental boundary between your work life and your home life. This simple boundary can go a long way in helping you thrive in both places.
Establish a regular schedule
Just as not having a dedicated work area can allow your work life to infiltrate every corner of your living space, not having a regular, well-defined work schedule can allow your work to take up more of your own time than you’d normally choose to give it.
Keeping a regular schedule gives you permission not to feel stress, guilt, or anxiety about your work/life balance. Your daily work schedule should start at a specific time (or window of time), and it should end the same way — on time.
Including phases of focused work as well as planned breaks in your schedule can help you stay focused and efficient during your day so you won’t be tempted to work past quitting time just to “finish one more thing.”
Make the most of your breaks
Even if you’re able to create strong boundaries and strike a work/life balance that’s effective for you, working from home can still take a psychological toll, simply because you’re inhabiting the same physical space for much of your waking life.
Whenever possible, take your scheduled breaks outside — sit on your balcony or in your yard or take a walk around your neighborhood. Fresh air, physical movement, and a quick change of scene can help you recharge your batteries and make your workday more enjoyable.
If going outside isn’t feasible, simply getting up and walking around your space can release a few feel-good endorphins. Stretching on at least one of your daily breaks is also a great way to get out of your head and into your body for a few energy-boosting minutes.
Stay connected with others
One of the most challenging aspects of working from home for newcomers and seasoned pros alike is working alone. You don’t get to interact with colleagues face-to-face, and you don’t get to benefit from the collective energy that a traditional work environment can provide.
To prevent feelings of isolation and loneliness, prioritize your personal connections and make time to reach out to remote colleagues, distant family members, and close friends as often as you can. Staying socially connected can help you feel centered and grounded when working from home.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
If you’re currently living with a mental health condition like depression or anxiety, continue to follow your treatment plan, do your best to keep your stress levels low, and get in touch with your doctor if you feel worried or develop new or worsening symptoms.
If you hit a rough patch while working from home, try changing your expectations of what you’re capable of getting done in a day. Turning your stress levels down a notch can help you create the space you need to regroup and move forward.
For more helpful suggestions, call your nearest TMS & Brain Health office in Los Angeles or Santa Monica, California, today, or schedule a virtual counseling session with one of our mental health specialists any time.