The coronavirus pandemic impacted us all, with one of the biggest changes for workers being new ways of working. While some have returned to the workplace after restrictions were lifted, many people are still working from home, or have a flexible or hybrid working arrangement in place.
While working from home does have its advantages, such as improved productivity, less time commuting and giving you more control over your day, it also comes alongside a myriad of challenges – one of the biggest being ill mental health, including stress and anxiety.
This can stem from various things, such as uncertainty about your job, a lack of motivation, working alone or struggling to ‘switch off’ and juggle your work-life balance.
Here are some tips to help you protect your mental health while working from home.
Stick to a routine and structure – without this, it can be easy to blur the lines between personal and work time. Make sure to include a regular start and finish time, a regular sleeping schedule, regular breaks, time for exercise, getting washed and dressed (no working in your pyjamas!) and making the most of the time you would usually spend commuting.
Make sure to take breaks! – just because you are working from the comfort of your own home, it doesn’t mean you don’t need breaks. Make sure to take screen breaks if you’re working on a computer or laptop to give yourself time to concentrate and refocus. If possible, make sure to get out during your break times, even if it’s just for a walk, run, bike ride or treating yourself to a coffee.
Set up a dedicated workspace – it’s always worth thinking about the best place to work in your home. Things you may want to consider include:
- Are you away from others, or distractions such as the TV?
- Do you have everything in your workspace that you need?
- Are you comfortable – do you have a desk with the right type of chair?
- Is the room warm enough/does it have enough ventilation?
- Is there enough light?
It’s also worth experimenting with new layouts/rooms, if possible, to improve your workspace. Always avoid working in your bedroom as you will then subconsciously associate that room with being switched on and working, rather than resting.
Stay connected with colleagues – just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on relationships with your colleagues. Make sure to be proactive in scheduling meetings, digital coffee catchups or in-person social events to maintain relationships. Being social helps to reduce stress and feelings of isolation.
Further support and advice
Even if you are working from home, your employer or manager is still responsible for your health and wellbeing – including your mental health. If you are struggling with your mental health or working arrangements, you should speak to your union Rep, employer or manager immediately for support. You could also speak to your doctor who can direct you to the relevant mental health service.
If you are struggling to get the support you need from your workplace, contact us. You can find out more about how we are campaigning for better mental health rights for workers here.
As a member of Community, you also have access to exclusive mental health and wellbeing training and support. Click here to contact our Community Learn team who will be happy to signpost you to the relevant courses.
If you are a member of Community and need help or advice, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 389 6332.