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Working From Home: Mental Health & Wellbeing Tips - Hays

A man sitting at his desk organising his virtual calendar

Working from home can offer many benefits, from increased productivity to happier and more engaged employees. However, it can be an isolating experience, especially if you are new to it, or starting a new job while working remotely. 

So, how can you look after your wellbeing while remote working? How can you create healthy boundaries between your work and personal life and stay mentally and physically healthy? 

Top tips to help you care for your health and wellbeing while working remotely. 

Common challenges of working from home

Maintain your regular routine

We are creatures of habit, so a regular schedule is important – set one and make sure you stick to it. If you are new to home working, try to create structure by sticking to your normal office routine as much as possible. Set the alarm for your regular time and get dressed. While the commute time has potentially been removed from your schedule, some find it useful to create a ‘third space’ between the home and ‘work’. This space is typically considered an amount of time that allows you to mentally bridge between home and work that allows you to shift gears. This might be a walk to your local café, an early morning gym session or listening to a podcast. It’s about being intentional in creating transitions into your day. Then, when the working day is done, shut the computer down, close the door to the room that you’ve been working in (if you have a separate space) and consider another activity that will allow you to transition back into home life.

Create a comfortable and clutter-free workspace

Even if you don’t have a study or spare bedroom in which to set up an office environment, you can still create a designated space for work that helps you set boundaries between your work and home life. It might be a desk in the corner of your bedroom or a specific corner of the dining room table with a special chair. Try to keep this space clutter free and focus only on work when you are in this space and create a set up (laptop closed, notebook shut) that signifies work is done at the end of the day. This will help to create an additional physical and mental boundary between your professional and personal life, while allowing you to stay productive.
 

Be a home worker, not a lone worker

Regular communication really is the key to not feeling isolated or alone, so do what you can to stay connected. Beside scheduling regular virtual meetings try creating time in your day to have a personal conversation with co-workers you might not otherwise interact with regularly. Send them a meeting invite and indicate that you’re asking for time to just connect so they understand the intent of the request. You could also assign an extra five minutes to a scheduled meeting to allow for some free-flowing conversation at the beginning of the end of a meeting to mimic less formal interactions you might have had if working together physically. 
 

Take an occasional break

Like any working environment, it is important to take breaks to keep your productivity high. Usually grab a mid-morning coffee? Build that into your routine at home as well. Tend to feel a little flat after lunch? Take a walk around the block for some fresh air. Short breaks in addition to your regular lunch break, whatever they look like, will help you to keep focused throughout the day.
 

Maintain physical health

Our physical wellbeing has a direct correlation to our mental health so it’s important to find ways to stay active when working from home. If you can, schedule regular movement into your day – whether that be a morning walk or starting the day with some stretches. Consider setting a daily step goal and make use of any fitness tracking devices you might have to help you monitor your progress. Spending time away from work to focus on physical activities not only helps keep you in good physical health, but also promotes a healthy work life balance. If you’re struggling to find time or motivation to exercise, try following an online fitness class or look for a workout video on YouTube that you can do in your living room. Make sure you are eating healthy meals and snacks. It can be easy to reach for unhealthy snacks when working from home as they are often more convenient.
 

Explore mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness are still only being fully realised by the scientific world, but so far, it’s been reported that it can help relieve stress, treat heart diseases, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, improve sleep... The list goes on. As does the ways that you can incorporate mindfulness into your day. It could be a simple form of meditation that asks you to simply observe or perform deep breathing exercises, it could be journaling, it could be a walk in nature with no phone or earphones or tuning into one of the many apps that have been designed to help you disconnect from the world and reconnect with yourself. Find one that works for you and incorporate it into your daily schedule by blocking out time in your calendar to help you prioritise it.
 

Ask for help

If things start to feel overwhelming, ask for help. Whether it’s a bloated to-do list, emotional turmoil or a tricky problem to solve, chances are there are people within your work, family or social circle that can assist. Your organisation’s Employee Assistance Program, if it has one, is also available for support. If not, could you reach out to a trusted mentor, friend or colleague?

Self-care when working from home is vital. By setting healthy boundaries and prioritising both your mental and physical wellbeing, you’ll avoid falling into bad habits and will instead remain productive and motivated. You may even find yourself feeling happier and healthier. 
 

About this author

Nick Deligiannis, Managing Director, began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

Follow Nick on LinkedIn

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