The recent coronavirus pandemic has become impossible to avoid. It has impacted people all over the globe in a variety of different ways, including changing the way we work.
Earlier this year, about 4.7 million people across the U.S. worked remotely. However, with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommendation of social distancing, and with about 90% of Americans ordered to stay at home or shelter-in-place, working from home has become the only option for some people.
While working from home can seem easy at first, there are many challenges that come with it when you’re used to heading into an office or other communal environment every day. Unfortunately, this major transition can be detrimental to your mental health. You might feel socially isolated, disorganized, or experience several mood changes throughout each day due to the uncertainty of everything.
Coronavirus, on its own, can have a negative impact on your mental health. Keeping your mind busy with work is a good way to combat the scary situation that seems to be taking over our world. But, how can you keep your mental health in check as you transition to remote work?
Keep a Work-Life Balance
While it can be tempting to sleep in, watch some television, stay in your pajamas, and get around to your work whenever you feel like it, that sort of attitude can actually make things worse. Most people who work remotely find that having a clear, organized schedule helps to keep them on track and from feeling overwhelmed.
Treat your job at home just as you would if you had to leave the house. Wake up at a certain time, get ready for the day, get dressed, go through your usual routine. One way to make your remote work feel less like “home” is to set up a specific space for it. If you have a spare room, turn it into a makeshift office away from other areas o
f the house. If you live in a tiny studio apartment or other small space, consider all the ways you can use your space and dedicate a specific corner to be your workspace with a desk, a chair, your computer, and whatever else you’ll need to complete your work.
If your family is also at home during this time, make sure they know that you need to eliminate distractions. Maintaining a work-life balance is incredibly important for remote workers. So, dedicate specific hours to your job, and specific hours to your family. Take time to unplug from your workday once you’re finished, so you can re-charge yourself for the next day.
Staying social and having some downtime will help to reduce your stress levels, so the more you stay organized with your work, the easier it will be to do the things you enjoy with the people you love, which is something we all could use right now.
As people, we need socialization. So, even hearing terms like “social distancing” and “quarantine” can be scary. Loneliness is already a large problem that affects 1 in 3 adults. It can cause both mental and physical health issues, including:
- A weakened immune system
- Brain damage
Thanks to technology, however, there are still ways to stay social even if you’re stuck at home. Being able to connect with people can make the transition easier, especially if you’re used to working in an environment that allows you to talk with people on a daily basis.
Video conferencing apps and programs can make it easy to connect with co-workers. Skype and FaceTime can be used to stay connected with friends and family after working hours. Even Netflix has a feature that allows you to watch movies anywhere with friends, and use a chat box throughout the film to talk to one another.
Look for ways to get a “people fix”. There are no rules that suggest you can’t go outside, as long as you practice social distancing. Go on a walk around your neighborhood to take your mind off work, and wave to neighbors and other people out and about doing the same thing. Simply seeing other people and families around can help you to feel better, and getting outside can actually boost your mood.
Take Care of Yourself
Practicing self-care is hugely important in self-isolation, especially when you’re dealing with a major life transition like working remotely. Try making a few adjustments to your morning routine by taking some extra time for yourself. Practice a few minutes of mindful meditation. Try a new skincare routine. Exercise. Anything you can do to take care of your mind and body will help you to feel better even before you start your workday.
This can be a perfect time to make changes and develop healthier habits in your life. You’re being forced out of your comfort zone, which can actually help you to build confidence. That’s a skill you can take with you once you get back to your workplace. You can also use this time to:
- Get rid of negative self-talk
- Set and accomplish new goals
- Determine your values
- Help others in any way you can
All of these suggestions can not only help you along in your future career, but they can improve your overall mental health now. Taking control of your health by managing your stress levels, taking care of yourself physically, and maintaining some kind of social interaction can help to make working from home easier for you.
Remember, this won’t last forever. By making your mental health a priority as you transition into remote work, you can remain calm and feel less overwhelmed even during times of uncertainty.
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