Our productivity and overall happiness when working from home is usually dependent on our mental health. In times like this, that isn’t always the easiest thing to maintain.
Even if you’re stuck at home but aren’t working, these tips may still be helpful for whatever you end up doing with your time.
Mental health for a change
We’re normally used to advising people on the health of their computers and IT systems, not their minds, but we thought it might be valuable if we addressed a more immediate threat (we’ll get back to IT later, don’t worry).
For some employees, being forced to work from home is great news and a welcome break from office life. For others the idea of working in your own house and then not being able to do much else is a challenge.
Fortunately, there’s nothing to say you can’t work effectively from home and also take care of your mental health.
Here are some things to bear in mind.
Get up and get out
When you haven’t got to face the commute and check in to work, it can be tempting to sleep in. But there’s no denying the benefits of starting work early. Following as near a routine as you can to normal will help to actually get work done.
If anything, you may be able to start work earlier than normal or use the extra time usually used to commute, to do something relaxing instead.
Make a plan
Yeah, we know, you’ve heard it all before… Yawn. The thing is, it’s worth repeating again as it can be so easy to slip into the habit of letting the day carry you away. Planning is essential for getting things done, but it’s more than just that.
Particularly in times of crisis it can be easy to get sidetracked and waylaid by news and anxiety. This anxiety builds up when you dwell on things you can’t control and allow these thoughts to run rampant in your mind.
A plan is something you can control. You’re setting the parameters of where your mind can wander and as a result you’ll be more at ease because there’s less to focus on.
Sure, you can’t control the chaos, but you can be calm in the midst of it.
Ok, that was pretty deep for an IT solutions company. But these are strange times.
Limit your intake of news and social media
Of course, the best way to be productive is to be militant with distractions. It’s good to keep updated but it doesn’t have to invade every waking hour.
Being bombarded with news updates and the countless voices of social media isn’t good for mental health and certainly won’t help you to get anything done.
Limit your intake to a couple of times a day and possibly even do it in a separate room to where you work so there is a clear distinction. You probably won’t miss it.
Having said all that, it’s still important to stay sociable. In whatever way you can.
Maintaining outside contact with friends, family and colleagues is essential for staying sane. Pick up the phone, organise a hangout or Zoom call and make it a priority to connect with people.
It may be that through this you end up reconnecting with people that you haven’t spoken to for a while or wouldn’t have given a call if it weren’t for this.
Keep the office banter going and have catch-ups on a daily basis with your team and peers. It will help to make it seem a little bit more normal.
Spot the signs
OK, let’s get real. Being cooped up inside, navigating uncertainty, not having normal human contact… It could well take its toll on your mental health.
It’s important to be realistic about the threat posed by this situation, beyond the obvious one.
The thing with depression and poor mental health is you often don’t notice it until it’s there. Poor sleep hygiene, poor general hygiene and an unhealthy diet can all be signs that something’s not quite right.
Noticing these signs early on and actively countering them before habits set in is vital to staying at the top of your game.
And it’s ok to be feeling like this. Fighting it may be a struggle but it’ll be worth it in the end for both yourself and also the people living with you.
For more information from the experts on the subject of mental health, check out some of the links below.
Don’t beat yourself up
The fact is, for those of us who aren’t used to working from home, we’re unlikely to be operating at full capacity. A combination of not being in your normal working environment and the uncertainty of the global situation can make it difficult to focus and be at our best.
And that’s fine. Cut yourself some slack. There’s nothing worse than not getting anything done because of stress only to then get more stressed because you’ve not got anything done.
Set small achievable goals, take breaks and give yourself rewards at the end of the day. If there was ever a time to take it easy at home, it’s now.
There we go. Hope that was helpful. As promised, here’s some helpful resources with useful contacts and things to read should you need some help.
thecalmzone.net – Great support and resources for those struggling with mental health.
mind.org.uk – mental health charity.
This is also great from the Mental Health Foundation – mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/looking-after-your-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak/while-working
And if you need help with your IT we’re still here. Fortunately, we are still able to carry on despite everything. Most of what we do can be done remotely, so if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch.