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How to Look After Your Mental Health While Working From Home

Around half the workforce are currently working from home, and it does not appear as though this is going to change anytime soon. Even when COVID – 19 is a distant memory, it’s unlikely that office working will return to the levels seen before the pandemic.

The Issue

While there are countless benefits to home or flexible working, the transition has not been made without issues. Indeed, there is a very real mental health pandemic happening alongside the Coronavirus pandemic, and research suggests working from home has contributed to this. For example, Nuffield Health conducted a survey which suggests that up to 80% of UK workers have had their mental health worsened as a result of working from home.

An image of a head missing a jigsaw piece.

We all know the world is quite chaotic right now, which understandably causes a deterioration to the mental wellbeing to many of us. We fear for the health of ourselves and our loved ones; we feel isolated from our friends and family; we worry about the economy and our job security. Suddenly we’re spending almost all of our time within the same four walls, unable to do the things we once loved. All of this combined can begin to take a toll on us mentally.

It won’t be forever; it will get better.

But for now, it’s important we do all we can to make sure we’re looking after our mental health. Even if you’re still working office hours, there are several measures you can take to help take care of your head.

Sleep Well

The impact of a good nights’ sleep on our mental health is well documented, but for many of us, working from home may have actually decreased the quality of the sleep we’re getting. When you don’t need to worry about getting up early to get ready and commute to the office, it can be tempting to stay up later than you otherwise would.

Having a proper sleeping routine is vital for feeling energised throughout the day. If you’re lacking energy, it can make you feel anxious or forgetful, as well as lead to a tonne of other issues that could negatively impact your mental health.

If you’re not doing it already, try being a little stricter on your bedtime, as well as getting up time. You might be amazed at the results of a consistent sleeping pattern. Finally, aware of what you are doing in the hour or so before you go to sleep. Overly stimulating activities such as videogames or loud music may have a negative effect on your sleep quality, as could the bluelight omitted from your phone screen!

Try some of these bedtime routines to prepare your mind for deep, restful sleep.

Keep In Touch With Your Colleagues

Humans are social creatures by nature. One of the biggest challenges of working from home is the lack of interaction you have with your colleagues. When you’re in the office, it’s fairly easy to overlook the ‘normal’ things like asking a colleague for help, a bit of banter in the office, or the spark of creativity in the corridor. 

Thankfully, the 21st century is full of incredible technologies like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. While they’ll never be able to replace that in person interactivity, don’t be afraid to use these services to connect with others. 

Some of you may have been working with your colleagues for a long time, so jumping onto Microsoft Teams to catch up while you’re working may not seem like so much of an issue. But if you’re fairly new to the office, or simply don’t feel comfortable speaking through the ether, text based communication can still be effective. The power of GIFs is truly transformational!

And remember; your employer has some responsibility when it comes to your mental wellbeing. If you feel like your mental health is spiralling out of control, don’t be afraid to speak up to your line manager or employer. They will be able to implement measures to support you.

An image of a cartoon man speaking to people on the computer.

Separate Work and Home

When we go into the office, the commute is both a physical and mental journey. The physical one is obvious, we go from A to B and back again. The mental journey is a little more subtle, but no less important.

When we walk, drive, or ride to work, we’re able to mentally prepare for the work ahead. We leave our homelife behind us for the day, put on our professional disguise, and create a mental checklist for the things we need to get done.

Similarly, when we leave the office, we’re hopefully able to use the commute home to reflect on the day and ‘switch off’, and leave work at work. Without that journey, it can be difficult to differentiate work and home, which isn’t good for anybody’s mental health. 

With this in mind, try to replace the journey with another ritual. You could go for a walk when you clock off for the day, simulating the commute to work. If that’s not your cup of tea, then try another ritual. Have a shower, do some yoga, play a video game; anything to form a gap between yourself and work.

The issues of separating home and work can be worse if you live somewhere small, like a flat. Many of us are forced to work in the same place we relax. It can be hard to switch off when you can see the computer in the corner of your eye, reminding you of work. 

If you can’t work in a different room to where you relax, take some steps to hide your workplace as much as possible. If you use a laptop, close it each day and hide it somewhere. If you use a computer and a desk, cover them with something homely – such as a blanket – to try and lessen its presence in the room. 

Flagship Partners

As we said at the beginning of the article, things will get better. At Flagship Partners, we understand the hardships that employees face while working at home during these hard times. It’s why we provide comprehensive mental health at work training for businesses who care about the mental wellbeing of their employees.

Visit our course page for a full list of upcoming courses, or get in touch with us today at 03300 553643, or via our online contact form.