Nearly a year after initial stay at home orders went into effect, many of our teams are continuing to work from home. For some of us, this requires that we balance our work responsibilities with family duties, home schooling children and even caring for at-risk relatives. The lines between work life and home life can get blurry, and the result is often an overwhelming feeling of stress and pressure.
We often talk of the importance of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Never has this been more important than now. And never has it been a greater challenge than today.
Few would dispute the connection a healthy mental state has on one’s overall wellbeing. By actively nurturing wellness, we can more effectively handle the curveballs life throws at us, and bounce back when bad things happen.
Create structure to your day – Stick to a schedule. Many people who have mastered the WFH life get up at the same time every day, shower, dress and treat their home office or workspace like a company office.
Schedule “me time” – Chances are your calendar is filled with calls, meetings and deadlines. Does it include time for yourself? If not, why not? Be sure to schedule breaks for yourself to do something good for you every day. Maybe it’s taking a break to read a chapter of a favorite book, taking an online meditation class, calling an old friend or taking the time to fix yourself a healthy lunch.
Move more – It’s easy to lose track of time when you are working from home and not subject to the distractions and interruptions you get an in office. So create your own distractions. Set a calendar reminder to get up and stretch every half hour. Stand at your desk for part of the day, or try to take calls standing up or walking around your office. Take a break for a walk around the block, play fetch with your dog – anything to get you up and moving.
“See” coworkers – Some days might be chockablock with Zoom meetings, which oddly can feel more exhausting than days of in person meetings. Other days, you are on your own. If you thrive on social interaction, invite a co-worker for a virtual coffee or lunch break. This helps strengthen bonds with colleagues and minimize feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Express gratitude – It’s human nature to focus on things that have gone wrong. But what happens when we retrain ourselves to focus on the positive? Some ways you can do that include keeping a gratitude journal. Writing down the good things that happened during the day is a great place to start. Another is beginning and ending each day with a positive thought.
Take on a new perspective – Chances are you are working on a laptop. Sometimes a change of scenery does wonders for our mental state. If you are lucky enough to work in a warm climate, consider working from your porch or patio, or move your laptop to a sunny window and work from there.
Give back – We all know that volunteering helps benefit our communities, but it is also good for us too. In addition to helping combat depression, it can counteract the effects of stress and anxiety and provide a sense of purpose. It also makes us happy.
“Applying my skills to help others gives me a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. It feels great knowing I have done my part to make someone’s life better,” said Anthony DeVincenzo, of California Closets of Suffolk County. Read Anthony’s inspiring story here.
Take a break – The pandemic has forced many of us to cancel or postpone travel plans. Just because you may not be able to travel doesn’t mean you should forgo using your PTO. Use your time off to do anything that makes you happy. Give yourself time to recharge and relax — you’ve earned it!
Stress – Stress is part of life. Everyone, regardless of their job role, experiences stress at some times. Feeling down or anxious at times is a normal part of life. Exercise and a healthy diet can help minimize the effects of stress, as can getting plenty of sleep. The trouble is sometimes people find getting a good night’s rest hard during times of stress. What can you do?
If you have trouble shutting your mind off before bed, consider keeping a journal. If you record your thoughts and worries before you go to bed, you are less likely to be kept awake from them. And if you wake up during the night worrying about a work or family problem, record it in your journal so you can deal with it later
Practice yoga – there are lots of free yoga classes online you can do from the comfort of your home
Meditate – meditation is a great way to relax your mind, reduce anxiety and stress and improve sleep. Consider downloading one of the many apps designed to guide you through a variety of meditations. Calm and Headspace are two popular ones
Give yourself permission to feel stress and remind yourself you are doing the best you can.
While most stress is temporary, sometimes it can feel overwhelming, or even paralyzing. In those cases, seeking professional help is a good idea. Many of our health insurance plans offer EAP, or Employee Assistance Programs, which include mental health resources. Check with your benefits provider to see what’s available to you. In addition, you may qualify to receive treatment on a “sliding fee scale” which is a reduced fee structure based upon your income level.
There are also many free resources available. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, has a wide variety of resources available, and also offers a hotline. 800-950-NAMI, or in a crisis, text “NAMI” to 741741.