Work life looks a lot different for many of us than it did 18 months ago. The good news is, there are plenty of great work from home tips you can follow to make your days at the home office healthier, happier, and better for your mental health.
As we now learn to navigate working remotely more than ever, many of us have been encountering all types of physical and mental fatigue by simply being in the confines of our own home.
We’ve learnt that ‘shutting the door’ to work is not all that clear when we must work in our bedroom. We’ve learnt that lunch breaks are now either a balancing act between home-schooling and laundry or scrolling on our phones to pass the time.
The ups and downs of managing these work-life shifts, coupled with the restrictions and rules we’re confined to in our life outside of work, really has expended much of our emotional and physical capacity. This is a unique point in time where mental health and wellbeing couldn’t be more important – yet many of us are struggling with it more than ever.
Our top tips for working remotely while looking after your mental health
With all of this in mind, we’ve compiled a WFH survival guide with our top ten tips for better mental health while working from home.
1. Be strict with your breaks
Often, with a busy working day filled with meetings, deadlines, and deliverables, it can be easy to shrug off breaks. We know that on occasion, our work requires us to be flexible in when we take breaks, in order to tick off our list of work priorities. This makes it easy to slip into a habit of skipping breaks altogether to get more work done.
But when we do this, the outcomes aren’t always positive, and can cause burnout and increased stress. It’s important to prioritise time away from your computer, desk and emails. Set yourself a timer and ensure you’re setting aside adequate time to rest and recuperate before heading back into the workday.
2. Choose a day – or more – to dress up
You might be thinking, what for? Well, for yourself. The top-half-corporate, bottom-half-pyjamas was fun back in 2020 but it’s time to get serious about your self-esteem. Why not choose a day to wear your best. put-together work attire, and invite your colleagues to do the same? By dressing up as if you were heading into the office or visiting a client, it adds a meaningful expression to your day that allows you to take pride in the way you look and feel.
3. Sit and stand
While the amount of ‘sitting’ hours we spend for work have remained much the same, more and more employees are taking the opportunity to use a standing desk at home. By standing for even short periods of time, you reduce hunching your back and shoulders, and in turn, increase your posture.
So, whether it’s using a makeshift desk with what you currently have at home, or retreating to the kitchen bench for half of your working day, by moving between sitting and standing, you’re minimising the physical stress on your body. Some people even report that they remain more productive throughout the day too.
4. Get outside
It may seem like an obvious one. We know that spending time outdoors not only makes us feel better physically but also mentally. Whether it’s breathing some fresh air, getting some Vitamin D, or simply laying your eyes on some local flora, these are all beneficial ways to improve your perspective, mood, and productivity. As a society, we are spending much of our time indoors, and many of us are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. But there’s copious evidence-based research on the health benefits of spending time in nature, including greater happiness, wellbeing, and life-satisfaction.
5. Set boundaries with work hours
To clock on and off when you’re working from home isn’t as simple as it seems. Whether this is because the nature of your work is at unconventional times, you’re trying to juggle home-schooling, or your bedroom has become a makeshift office, it can be hard to close the door. But by setting yourself boundaries on the hours you work from home each day, you can commit to set time blocks that will help you prioritise your duties within. Make working overtime the exception, not the rule.
6. Make your workspace as beautiful as possible
Psychologist Jordan Peterson has been famously known for encouraging people to clean up their room. While at first glance it seemed like overly simplistic advice, the idea was in fact amazingly worthwhile. It showed people that by tidying their personal space, it could in turn reflect how they ‘tidy’ other areas of their life.
In his latest book, Beyond Order: 12 more Rule For Life, he states that ‘cleaning your room is not enough’. Rather, making spaces as beautiful as possible and finding pieces that speak to you will help bring vision and joy to your life.
So, fill your workspace with things that spark joy, be it objects, art, plants, or photos. It doesn’t have to be expensive , but it will allow you to enjoy the area in which you spend most of your day, and hopefully inspire you.
7. Schedule a lunch time meditation
Practicing mindfulness is a positive way to improve your experience when working from home. By incorporating a short, daily meditation into your work schedule, research has shown you can improve outcomes related to work stress and well-being.
We know it can be daunting to take the first step into meditation, but there are plenty of meditation apps that include guided and unguided options that can help get you started, like Insight Timer, Headspace and Calm.
8. Speak up and reach out
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. In a time where we would usually lean over to a co-worker in an office, it can be daunting to write up an email or make a call to ask a question.
But it’s important to feel you’re part of a team and that your voice is heard. If you find that you’re struggling, reach out to your company and ask about their Employee Assistance Program, which supports staff members in dealing with personal, family or work-related concerns that may be impacting wellbeing, work performance, health and safety.
9. Create a bullet-proof routine
Good habits are key when it comes to working from home. We know it can be easy to get distracted when you’re in your own space. It’s important to set yourself a good working routine to ensure you’re kicking goals, staying productive and meeting deadlines.
Maybe your morning routine consists of a 20-minute walk around the block, reading an inspiring book or making a call to a loved one. By staying committed to a repeated morning and evening wind-down routine, you’ll be ready for any unexpected challenges that come your way.
10. Be kind to yourself
And mean it. In a time where the normalities of working life have seemingly been thrown out the window, it’s common to feel overwhelmed being struck by such change. It’s important to be honest with yourself about where you’re at – emotionally, physically, and mentally. Don’t feel guilty about being 100% All. The. Time.
By taking the pressure off yourself and acknowledging the rollercoaster of feelings you might be experiencing, you might even encourage others around you to do the same.