When you’ve been working from home for nearly seven months, like me, you know that there’s a spotlight on your mental health. Spending so much time at home – when you’re otherwise used to being in an office – can blur the lines between professional and personal time and sometimes it becomes hard to switch off. Also, being in one place for so long on any day on a regular basis is enough to drive you up the wall.
In these months, I’ve learnt so much about myself because I’ve allowed myself to. I’ve ridden the emotions of feeling disconnected, robotic and even the fear of something happening to my family and friends. I know I’m not the only one out there who has had such mixed feelings and everyone has been on their own journey. I wanted to share my tips of improving wellbeing during this time, while working from home. Some of us will be spending the best part of the next six months doing the same and it’s only right we are already in or are ready to get into some good habits.
1. Exercise and the outdoors
Many of us have been using the time of this pandemic in the safest places possible; parks. I’ve always wanted more time in a park every summer but this year has topped any other year by miles. Walks in the park on most summer evenings, lunches in the park, catchups in the park… Park life has been truly great. However, as the winter months draw in on us, parks are not going to be the best places for any of this anymore. So how should we get our share of exercise and a taste of the outdoors if we aren’t a member of a gym and don’t intend to ever be one? Well, firstly, there are many exercise videos out there which you can follow to get in your half an hour a day. Also, there’s nothing stopping you going for a walk or run before you start work or on a lunch break. Whatever you choose to do to stay active, make sure you keep it up during the darker months. It’ll do a world of good to you while working from home.
2. Mindfulness or meditation
I only caught on to mindfulness when I had a time in my life that required me to really build myself up again. It was when I felt so defeated that I needed the focus to return and the outside stresses to minimise. A somewhat life-changing session of mindfulness at lunchtime at work that I attended really changed my thinking. Mindfulness or meditation is about being at one with the present moment. Our stresses are always about something in the past or something we are worried about in the future. We sometimes just need to bring our minds back to the here and now. It might sound like something super miniscule in the grand scheme of things but my mind was blown at how much of a difference mindfulness made when I first started it. I don’t do it as often now and I really should so I’m starting to do it again. It can be 5 mins or even 20 – the timing suits you. You can make it suit you.
3. Be aware of your feelings or moods
This is one thing I feel like I’m good at in general life but in pandemic life, it’s become a real struggle. However, when you are actively more aware of how you’re feeling, you may get better finding solutions. If you’re having a slow day, reach out to a colleague for a quick zoom chat. If you feel that someone is a little distant, ask someone for a virtual coffee date. It’s really that simple and these things make a real difference. If you know what you’re feeling, you also very often know how to snap out of feeling a certain way – in most cases. If you don’t, the easiest thing you can do is talk to someone – even someone outside of work. It’ll help, trust me! Ranting and letting out your frustrations is always a great way forward.
4. Make the most of breaks in the day
I’m lucky in that I’ve always, from the very start, kept a routine timing for a lunch break during my day. I also have a set snack time too. Sounds regimental? Well, no. It’s just a routine I prefer to stick to so that I don’t end up eating too much or spend all my time working. What a great thing to do is that when you take a break for lunch, make sure you unwind in that time as much as you can. For example, cooking something easy from scratch for lunch is a great way of enjoying your time and also making sure you’re eating something relatively healthy, balanced and tasty. You could also spend some time doing some adult colouring, which will de-stress you. You may even want to watch some daytime TV, if it takes your fancy. However, make sure you give yourself a break during your break.
5. Don’t forget to take annual leave
Yes, it might seem a little pointless to take some leave when you’re working from home. However, it’s a great way to spend more than just your days off away from work – mentally and physically. I’ve taken a few days just to unwind over the last few months, and although it’s nowhere near what I would usually have taken off in a normal year during summer, the time off has helped me to just not have to think about work for some time. At the moment, the lockdown may not allow you do to much on those days off as you would like to but me time is always a great thing. Perhaps have a de-clutter or bake!
This list of tips is very personal to me but I hope it’s helped anyone reading who may have been working from home for a lengthy period too. The bottom line is, no matter the struggle of the day-to-day or the week-to-week, we will get out of this phase eventually. We can only hope that we’ll look back and think of all this time we had to spend at home and how the working world as we knew it completely changed. We’re living history and, as excruciating as it might feel, you will look back some day and reflect. And no doubt you want it to be something you remember positively.