Learning how to take care of your mental health when working from home is crucial in today’s world as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread and teams adjust to an unpredictable future of working from home. Managing your mental health at work is just as important as reaching your project goals and maintaining high levels of productivity.
Issues associated with employees who work from home, such as loneliness and burnout, are on the rise, especially with employees who have never worked from home before.
These employees not only have to deal with the sudden change, but may also have the added pressure of working with children in the house, having to home-school children, and catering to the needs of a family while trying to stay engaged and productive at work during the lockdown.
To help employees who are new to working from home manage stress and maintain good mental health, we’re sharing helpful habits and tips you can implement in your day-to-day life.
Why mental health awareness at work is important
Mental health awareness at work should be a priority for every company at this time. In a bid to pivot or maintain profitability, too much pressure may be placed on employees who are anxious about the security of their jobs due to the pandemic’s impact on businesses.
This intense pressure can cause employees to overstretch themselves and eventually burn out, which can impact work performance. Not being able to stop and chat with colleagues, compare progress, or ask simple questions in person may make completing tasks harder.
The worries and pressure on employees, especially those who are working from home for the first time, can exacerbate mental illness and lead to a drop in productivity. Educating or simply talking about mental health at work opens up a channel for employees, and leaders, within a company to share their experiences in a way that makes the team feel closer and safe.
When your team is aware of how to take care of their mental health at work, they can see signs in themselves or in colleagues who are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed. Some symptoms to look out for in colleagues who may be on edge include emotional outbursts, a decline in work performance, withdrawing from other colleagues, and constant feelings of discouragement or sadness.
How to work on your mental health when working from home
Here are some tips and habits you can implement to take care of your mental health while working from home.
1. Prioritize taking care of your mental health
It may seem obvious, but in a calendar full of meetings, tasks, deadlines, family, physical hygiene, and children, the thought of how to work on your mental health often comes last. It is essential, however, for companies and employees to invest in mental health-boosting activities and initiatives. This makes it easier to help struggling employees before their issues become serious.
Employees can protect their mental health at work by taking regular timed breaks within work and meetings, and accomplish their tasks using the popular Pomodoro technique for time management. This allows for break times where they can pop some clothes in the laundry, check-in on their kids, or take a few minutes to breathe and build a gratitude habit.
Mindset matters a lot when it comes to surviving chaotic situations. By practicing some of these habits, you can strengthen your mental health and gain more energy to be productive at work, from home.
2. Be open and realize you do not have to be perfect
Due to the economic recession and massive job layoffs predicted by business leaders and analysts, many employees are feeling the pressure to prove their value to their employers to avoid possible job loss.
This may make you hide your struggles as you transition to new work arrangements and discourage you from seeking help from your colleagues and employer. It may also cause you to take on more work than you can handle to prove that you are productive even while working from home.
But mental health awareness at work means that you can show vulnerability, and your colleagues and leaders can too. By being honest with each other about how you are dealing with the new work situation, and the coronavirus outbreak at large, you create a space where others can do the same.
This is a time that calls for leadership in everyone, not just those in management positions. If you lead the way by encouraging good mental health habits and discussions during your team meetings, you can create a better culture of support, empathy, and productivity within your organization.
3. Create a routine and stick to it
When we talk of good work from home habits, creating a routine and sticking to it tops the list. Routines strengthen your mental health by reducing the number of decisions you have to make in a day.
You create more mental space and have more energy to get things done when you are organized and prepared for the tasks you have planned in a day. You may not accomplish everything, but you will have a lot more peace and control as you go about your day.
Note that organizing your routine should not only stop at “what” you do within the workday but also “where” you do them. Create a dedicated workspace with an ergonomic chair that supports your back, neck, and spine. Try to schedule in daily workouts or walks to keep your body healthy. Physicians say regular exercise helps to lower anxiety levels and boost the flow of endorphins in the body.
4. Track your work transparently
One of the biggest concerns of employees who are new to working remotely is figuring out how they can show their work in an easy format that is accessible to every member involved in their projects as they work from home.
Wrike’s team collaboration software solves this seamlessly by making it easy to communicate with one another and work with clear direction and visibility over what is expected of each team member on each project. You can get more done with less stress as the software provides the structure and flexibility you need to be productive while working remotely.
You can complete projects in sync with your team and have communications and project management aligned in one portal.
5. Control your information intake
While it is wise to stay informed about the latest updates on the coronavirus spread, especially within your locale, it's also important to protect yourself from the barrage of information — and fake news.
You can protect your mental health at work by reading relevant news from a few trusted sources and ignoring all others. Going through the constant stream of negative news from all over the world is detrimental to your mental health. It will elevate anxiety and stress levels and affect your outlook and work performance.
You can instead replace checking the news with a positive habit. Whenever you find yourself worrying or reading the news, you can drink a glass of water, breathe in deeply, or meditate. These healthy habits can turn the impulse to stay updated on world news into a means for you to stay healthy.
How to look after the mental health of your workmates when working from home
Staying connected is one of the most proactive ways of looking after the mental health of your workmates, who are also social distancing and working from home.
With group chats, videoconferences, and one-on-one phone conversations, you can check in on co-workers who seem to be struggling more than others. You can suggest game nights or a fun virtual team building activity to foster closeness and friendship during these tough times. Most importantly, you can listen and be of assistance to those who are alone or going through a great deal of stress.
We cannot predict when this will be over, but we can choose to stay mentally healthy and productive at work. Ready to supercharge your work from habits and optimize efficiency within your new remote team? Try Wrike’s team collaboration software for free.