By Scarlett Cole, Guest Writer
When remote work became the norm in 2020, employees faced several unexpected challenges. Burnout became quite common, especially amongst employees who frequently used teleconferencing tools like Zoom. The discomfort of online video meetings left many workers mentally fatigued, and the pressure of unnatural social interactions took a toll. Additionally, people who failed to set strict work-life boundaries carried their job stress into their personal lives.
With all of that said, the downsides of work-from-home arrangements do not have to exact such a toll. Workers simply need to adopt strategies that can help them effectively protect their minds. To that end, the following lifestyle changes can help you take better care of your mental health while working from home.
Join A Support Group
Each worker faces unique stresses based on the field they are employed in. Remote social workers, for example, must navigate the difficulties of managing intimate cases through the barrier of remote communication tools, such as teleconferencing, emails, and phone calls. Healthcare workers, on the other hand, have been extremely overworked due to labor shortages caused by poor working conditions and an extremely high demand for care.
One solution for stress factors like these is to join a support group to connect with individuals in your field. A guide to physician burnout published by the telemedicine network, Wheel, notes that joining support groups has helped many physicians feel less isolated. It has also allowed people in the field to seek advice and solutions from others who have experienced similar struggles. Similar benefits may be experienced by individuals across all occupations. Search online for support groups focused on your field; you might find groups in your area or on Facebook.
As a bonus, this sort of outreach may benefit you professionally. Our article entitled “Personal Interests and Hobbies on A Resume” points out that having active affiliations with other professionals can help your career. Joining a support group will grow your network, which might just connect you to a valuable partner or future employer.
Build A Self-Care Routine
Mental and physical health are inextricably linked. By protecting your body from disease, discomfort, and pain, you can reduce your mental stress. In the same way, taking proper care of your mind can make you more motivated to engage in physical activity.
To promote your health, build a thorough self-care routine. Such a routine can consist primarily of small daily habits, such as exercise, mindfulness, proper eating, proper hygiene, and sleep. You can also take on a specific exercise program that is manageable at home. In an article about building mental health routines aimed at busy workers, programming publication Smashing Magazine recommended doing yoga, specifically. Aside from strengthening the muscles, yoga can quiet the mind and improve memory, learning, and other cognitive functions –– making it a best-of-both-worlds option for physical and mental health.
To prevent burnout, it is important to give your brain occasional breaks from work. Try scheduling short five to15-minute breaks throughout the workday. Giving your brain time to recharge will allow you to start tasks more energized and motivated. It also prevents stress from building up.
Beyond mental health, rest also has benefits regarding productivity. Studies from the National Institutes of Health found that the brain uses wakeful rest time to consolidate memories of previous actions. When the brain replays what had just been performed, absorbing the associated skill or progress becomes easier. With rest, in other words, you become more efficient at learning new things (which might just make you feel “sharper” all around).
Set Clear Boundaries
In a regular work setup, physical distinctions make it easier for the brain to separate work from life. Your brain will associate the workplace with work and your home with leisure, relaxation, and family. Moving in and out of these physical spaces allows you to easily switch between modes.
However, because remote work makes these boundaries less clear, remote workers find themselves carrying work stress even after they have clocked out. To minimize stress, you need to create clear physical markers that distinguish when work starts and ends. You can achieve this by designating a spare room for work purposes alone. If that is not possible, make sure to keep all work-related items, such as laptops, out of sight once you have completed your daily hours. Turn off all work notifications and resist the temptation to look at work-related messages.
Remote work comes with a few helpful upsides. It saves time and money while reducing health risks. To really enjoy these benefits however, remote workers need to adopt habits that improve their mental resilience. The suggestions above will set you off on the proper path toward a happier and healthier work-from-home lifestyle.