The benefits and pitfalls of working from home in the pandemic
There are many people working from home during the pandemic and restrictions. It is vitally important to ensure you look after your mental and physical health during this time.
What may have begun as an opportunity to sit back a little and relax, maybe even working in your pyjamas, (yes! I am guilty too!), can have a negative effect on your mental health and well-being. Working from home can have many benefits and pitfalls too.
Maintaining a positive work/life balance is paramount
Here are some useful factors to consider:
1. Have a dedicated space to work in
A place that’s suitable to spend our working hours, have access to all we need for work and is a good environment for receiving calls, making calls, internet connection, using our laptop or tablet.
Working in your bedroom is not ideal as this is a place where you rest and sleep, however, if this cannot be avoided, ensure you tidy/pack up any relevant work stuff when you have finished your working day. This is particularly important advice for those of you who already struggle with sleep patterns etc. Keeping your bedrooms separate from work is ensuring you continue to relate this room to relaxing, sleeping and switching off.
2. Set a routine and stick to it!
If you normally have coffee breaks, loo breaks, lunch, then continue at home. Make a packed lunch ready for when you have your lunch break. Leave your workspace when you take any breaks. Work your hours only and do your best not to work over your allocated time ie. 8.00 am to 5.00 pm is your usual hours of work, then stick to this at home. Wearing clothes that you would normally wear for work also helps with separating home/work life.
3. Check in with others
Ensure you check in with colleagues regularly. Chat with others in your dedicated breaks, as you would normally do. This reduces isolation and maintains positive working relationships. Connecting with others, friends, relatives also reduce stress levels.
Maybe even suggest a zoom meeting over lunch to connect with your work colleagues! If you are working indoors all day, go outside, even for a few minutes. You’ll be surprised how even a quick change of scenery helps to give you a boost.
4. Establish new ways of working
Working from home can be a great way to improve productivity and reduce stress. No driving to work, no traffic jams, no train or bus commuting. However, it can also do the opposite!
Stress, anxieties, working longer hours, working in isolation can increase stress levels and cause you to feel unwell. Differentiating between work and home life is important to maintaining a healthy balance. Set up your routine, as you would in the office. Start when you are supposed to start work, finish when you are supposed to finish.
Structure your day to take your breaks, have lunch. Minimise possibilities of work invading your personal/family time. Even getting changed out of your work clothes can help cement that vital change from work – home.
5. Stay connected with work colleagues
Maintaining positive working relationships will help when working from home. Arrange regular check-ins with your work colleagues, communicate with your manager on a regular basis, keeping others informed of what you are doing. Ensure you ‘switch off’ at the end of your day.
Technology, as it is now, is a great way of staying connected, however, it also makes it easier to remain connected after hours.
6. Set up a Wellness Action Plan
A Wellness Action Plan (WAP) can be instrumental in helping you, your team/colleagues to support your mental health. A WAP is a proven method to assist in maintaining a healthy balance, building resilience and boosting mental health and well-being.
It can help you set goals for certain topics ie. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you taking enough breaks? Are you sticking to your routine? Are you signing off appropriately and at an appropriate time? Are you exercising? Are you getting some fresh air?
Other things to consider are:
- How can you and your colleagues support your mental health at work?
- What makes you stress/unwell?
- What part of your job makes you happy?
- Can you delegate to another colleague?
Identifying your needs can help you set up a plan to meet those needs.
Exercising is paramount to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Exercising can increase dopamine levels, reducing stresses and depression. Puzzles, crosswords, being creative, listening to music can exercise the mind. Taking part in activities that you enjoy can also help maintain your mental health.
8. Take time out for yourself
Waiting until you ‘burn out’ is not a healthy option to take. What is the point of getting to that stage if you are unable to enjoy the benefits? Taking regular ‘time out’ for yourself boosts your mental health and helps with concentration, clearer thinking processes, positive thoughts, helping you to feel calmer and happier. Learning a new skill or taking up a new hobby is another way to boost your mental health.
- Self-hypnosis – self-hypnosis is a great methodology to help make those positive changes and enhance the possibility of those changes being effective. It is safe, non-invasive and simple to perform. Daydreaming at its best, perhaps? Great for relaxation purposes also!
- Meditation – either on your own or within a group. Meditation is an excellent way to promote relaxation for calming and balancing. It enhances your overall mind/body focus and can help for focusing, inner peace and clarity.
How hypnotherapy can help
If you are struggling, hypnotherapy is a powerful and extremely effective approach to help cope with stresses, anxieties, worries and a wide range of other issues. Positive suggestions are used to help guide individuals to deal with and manage their thought processes and behaviours. Hypnotherapy can help you to relax, improve sleep patterns, manage stress and reduce anxieties.
Hypnotherapy is also an excellent approach to help put old negative behaviours in the past and make changes to undesirable spontaneous behaviours and thought processes. By hypnosis, guided visualisations, verbal suggestions are used to guide you in making those all-important changes in your life. It's non-invasive and safe.