Interim Inc. is joining other organizations in the national movement to raise awareness about mental health during May 2021, National Mental Health Month.
Because of the pandemic, your home is also your office, restaurant, school and hangout spot. Physical distancing guidelines have forced many of us to stay home, effectively blurring the lines between work, play and relaxation.
So now that your office and home are basically the same thing, you also need to step away from your work space and take care of yourself and your mental health. This may be easier said than done, but, with the help of National Council for Behavioral Health’s website mentalhealthfirstaid.org, there are some ways to help you work from home better and keep your mental health and self-care in mind while you do it.
Here are some helpful tips from the website’s “A Practical Guide to Self-care When Working from Home.”
1. Separate “work” and “life”: Work-life balance has taken on a completely new meaning. If possible, dedicate a space to do your work that isn’t your bed or bedroom. Studies show that working in the space you normally dedicate to sleep can affect your sleep patterns, and that can be detrimental to your mental health. It’s also important to try to separate your work and home activities throughout the day. It can be tempting to use time between meetings to do the dishes or the laundry, but this can make it harder to separate work and life and lead to burnout.
2. Ready, Set, Routine: Having a robust morning routine can be a game changer for your mental health — take a shower, meditate, get dressed for the day. Establishing patterns will also ultimately help you know when to log off, so you aren’t taking your work with you to bed. It’s also beneficial to have a night-time routine to make sure you’re not only getting enough sleep, but ensuring that it’s high-quality sleep. Things like ditching your phone or laptop prior to bedtime and reading help signal your brain that it’s time to start winding down.
3. Breaks are your best friend: If you’ve been working from home for a few months, chances are you’ve more or less figured out what works and what doesn’t. But you can always find ways to take care of your mental health, even if you feel OK — break your day up by going for a walk during lunch or work outside if the weather is nice. Block time off on your calendar so you can play with your dog for a couple minutes or meditate. Taking breaks is a proven way to increase productivity and help you relax, especially when work feels overwhelming.
4. Stay hydrated and well-fed: This seems obvious, but how many times do you step away from your computer have a healthy snack or take a sip of water? Some studies show that working from home actually makes us work more, so it’s important that you’re fueling your body while you work. The kinds of food you eat also have an effect on your mental health, so skip the junk food, and physically step away to give your brain a mini-reset while you focus on something else. Try having lunch away from your computer.
Regardless of how you work from home, finding a healthy balance is key to ensuring you don’t feel burnout — compounding stress related to work that eventually leads to a drop in productivity. Unaddressed, it can even lead to symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.