Looking after our mental wellbeing can be difficult after Christmas, with a lot of us going into January with tighter budgets and maybe some anxiety about the New Year. Many of us will still be working from home and this brings with it its own set of challenges.
Working from home has some benefits like not having to commute to the office every day, being able to spend more time with friends and family, and having more free time to enjoy hobbies outside of work.
But a lot of people also deal with feelings of isolation and struggle to strike a balance between work and home life when the office is also where you live. It can be difficult to set boundaries and often people will do more work than they would if they were in the office to ‘compensate’.
It’s easy to forget to look after ourselves when everyone’s so busy, but it is important. We’ve set out below some of the things you can do to look after your mental health while working from home.
Create a Workspace
Have a Designated Area for Your Work
This doesn’t have to be a home office. Even creating a corner in your living room where you work during the day can help break the association of home with work.
The most important thing is to make sure wherever you choose isn’t somewhere you’d normally relax like your bed, sofa or kitchen table – these should be kept as places for you to switch off.
Ask Your Employer for Office Equipment
Employers have a responsibility to provide equipment for you to be able to do your job effectively from home. This can include laptops, monitors, headsets, keyboard and mouse; all the things you’d normally have in an office setting.
Take Breaks away from Your Desk
Wherever you set up your workstation, make sure to take time away from it a few times a day. This is really important; you’ll be helping yourself and your colleagues by having a clearer mind ready to tackle your workload.
Find Your Way of Working
Plan Your Day Around You
Try and keep track of how you work during the day, you could even write this down as a log if you have time. For example, if you’re better at completing larger tasks in the morning and sorting emails in the afternoon, plan your day around this. It won’t always be possible to stick to this, unexpected tasks will sometimes crop up. But it can be helpful to have a basic structure for your day to work from.
Write a Realistic Task List
Set out a list of tasks each morning so you know what to prioritise during the day. You could use a standard notebook or invest in a planner and tick off each task as they’re completed. This can help to give a sense of achievement at the end of the day, just make sure the list is realistic so you don’t end up feeling defeated.
Set a Timer
If you’re a procrastinator, this is a great way to get tasks done. Use a timer on your phone or your laptop browser and try to focus on one activity during this timeframe. Make use of online statuses and mark yourself as ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’ to cut down distractions while you’re doing this.
Build a Routine
Set Yourself Up for the Day
Having things you do every morning lets your body know that you’re awake and ready to start work. This doesn’t have to be anything elaborate; having a shower, getting dressed and eating breakfast can all set you up well for the day.
If you don’t have time for more than one or two steps in the morning, make life easier by setting out clothes the night before.
Step Away for Lunch
When you’re working from home, no one is around to make sure you have a proper lunch break. Don’t be tempted to sit and eat at your desk, it’s important you have time away from your laptop so you’re ready for the afternoon.
Mark the End of the Day
Without a commute, it sometimes feels like your workday is overflowing into your evening. Try and come up with an activity you can do to signal that the day is over. This could be as simple as cooking dinner or getting into more comfortable clothes (or pyjamas).
It’s important to remember that for a lot of us, working from home is still a relatively new thing and it’ll take some getting used to. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to use all the methods we’ve gone over in this article, they’re meant as a guide and shouldn’t feel like extra work.
Remember to use holiday and sick leave to avoid burnout, these are just as important whether you’re working in an office or at home.
If you’re struggling, don’t be afraid to tell someone. A lot of employers offer an employee assistance programme that includes a 24/7 helpline for you to speak to a trained call handler about anything that’s troubling you.
Simpson Millar Solicitors are a national law firm with over 500 staff and offices in Billingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Catterick, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, London and Manchester.