Mental Health While Working From Home
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During the pandemic of COVID19 and managing all the changes to each of our lifestyles during this time it is easy to feel anxious, overwhelmed, and uneasy. At the beginning, back in March, when I first started working from home it felt like a novelty, however working from home for a prolonged period of time can start to take its toll on our our mental health without us even knowing. We need to keep in mind that as it is important to keep up your physical health during this pandemic, it is just as important to check in and exercise good mental health.
Some common feelings you might be experiencing are:
Lack of exercise, being in a confined space, disrupted routine, insomnia and sleep problems
Increased job demand / job loss, financial stress, changing to working from home, feeling directionless, difficulty staying focused, difficulty prioritising workloads, uncertain about progress or performance
Being unable to 'switch off from work', pre-existing mental health problems
feeling isolated, lonely or disconnected from other people
For many people, the need to isolate has unfortunately exacerbated pre-existing mental health conditions and for others, has brought on new symptoms of mental illness. There are no doubts these are scary times where we are all prone to being fearful and uncertain about our future and with your work and personal life now mixed into the one it can become overwhelming.
To help combat this, here are some tips to protect your mental health when working from home;
create a specific working space
Have a designated area for working and where possible commit to using it only during work hours. I can not stress how important it is to NOT have your workspace in your bedroom or from your bed! While working from your bed may seem appealing, it’s not good for your posture or productivity and discourages your body from feeling alert or awake. Studies show that working from home can interfere with sleep especially for those who find it difficult to switch off from work.
Routine, routine, routine!
It is important to keep a regular daily routine to keep you mentally focused and your body clock in sync. Set out a routine as if you were going into the office with a regular start and finish time and structure your day with breaks and exercise scheduled in. At KLC we are lucky enough to have a very organised manager who sends us out our daily break times and encourages us to go on ten minute walks daily. Avoiding hitting that "snooze" button just because you don’t have to physically go into work. Make sure you get showered, dressed and have a balanced breakfast like you would for a normal ‘workday’. This will help you maintain a strong boundary between work and home life and minimise the possibility of work intruding on your family life.
Although you may be speaking with your work colleagues over the phone daily, it's just as important to organise a virtual face to face catch up. Change your phone conference to a Zoom conference or pick up the phone as opposed to sending an email. Staying connected with others will help reduce stress levels, help you feel less isolated and stay productive. I have found it helps keep me accountable as I can share what i am working on with others and encourage other colleagues to share what they have been doing. Checking in with each other is probably the most important thing we can do during a time like this.
Whilst the media are doing a fantastic job at keeping us informed it is important to take breaks from the news, your phone, your computer etc. Technology makes it easier for us to stay connected however it also makes it hard for us to wind down and switch off. Try spending more time with your family or do things they want to do.
Try and get out at least once a day, set an alarm, get some fresh air and some sunshine. Even if this means sitting on your balcony and getting some air just move away from your computer and stretch those limbs!
Access your workplace EAP
If you are struggling and don't know who to turn to there are resources your organisation may have in place to support you. Employment Assistance Programs offer anonymous services and by having a conversation with your superior about utilising those services, you are also opening up the pipeline for your manager or supervisor to understand that you are under duress and this may allow them to make special considerations for those struggling to complete their daily tasks.
There is so much going on in the world that we can not control right now but how we talk to ourselves during these times can either have a positive effect or negative effect. This is new to everyone and is now the new normal so talk yourself through each day and remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel.
For those requiring extra assistance, KLC Recruitment highly recommend using the following sources to speak with a representative immediately
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 24 - hours/7 Days a week
Lifeline: 13 11 14 24 - hours/7 Days a week
Headspace: 1800 650 890 - 10:00pm – 1:00am, Online 1:00pm to 1:00am
Mensline: 1300 789 978 - 24 hours/7 Days a week
Suicide Call Back: 1300 659 467 - 24 hours/7 Days a week
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