How to Handle Stress and Anxiety When Working From Home
Tips to Improve Work-Life Balance as a Remote Worker During COVID-19
Americans in the Mid-South and across the country have abruptly changed where and how they work in 2020. More than a third of Americans are working from home because of the coronavirus, according to recent research from Yahoo-Finance Harris.
Some remote workers feel more productive working outside of the office but struggle to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In fact, combining your home and work life can take a serious toll on your mental and emotional wellness. Here are some healthy ways to adjust and take care of yourself.
Create a Routine and Set Boundaries
People who shifted to a work-from-home environment during the pandemic may feel like the workday never ends. It’s easy to find yourself answering emails at 9 p.m. or skipping lunch when you’re not sharing food with a coworker.
“People feel like they’re always readily available,” said Melissa Wilkes Donahue, director of CONCERN Employee Assistance Program. “Remote workers may feel compelled to work longer hours because they have everything they need at home. It can be more difficult to compartmentalize your life when everything happens under one roof.”
For parents, children complicate working at home. Some children must learn at home during the pandemic and require more time and attention than working parents can give during the 9–5 workday.
“Set healthy boundaries for your coworkers, your children and yourself,” said Dr. Tracey Johnson, assistant director of CONCERN Employee Assistance Program. “Create boundaries and follow a routine to ease your stress and anxiety. Explain to your child why he or she can’t interrupt you when your office door is closed. Take this same honest approach with yourself when you need breaks.”
Johnson and Wilkes Donahue also recommend incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Take a 15-minute walk around the block, meditate for a few minutes after a meeting or prepare a quick, healthy lunch.
“When the workday is over, flip a mental switch and allow yourself to step away from your computer and your phone,” said Wilkes Donahue. “It’s your time to recharge physically and emotionally.”
Get Fresh Air
Studies show that fresh air affects productivity, creativity and how the brain processes information.
“Get outside during the workday,” said Johnson. “Give yourself permission to spend time in nature. The green effect is real—trees, grass and fresh air all provide a boost to your wellbeing. You may be surprised how good you feel by simply stepping outside to take a phone call. At the very least, open a window and enjoy the breeze.”
Make Time for Yourself
Self-care is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself, promoting wellness and reducing the risk of burnout. It can be easy to slip into bad habits or ignore the things you enjoy when you’re working indoors by yourself.
“Self-care is not selfish,” said Johnson. “It’s a necessity. Your needs are important. You deplete your motivation and happiness levels if you spend all your time working or meeting the needs of other people.”
Allow yourself to listen to an audio book, go for a run or light a scented candle. Meditation and yoga can help you focus on your breath, which improves posture and overall feelings of wellness. Whatever self-care looks like to you, prioritize the activities that bring you joy.
Ask for Support
It’s normal to feel frustrated, scared or uncertain during a pandemic. If you’re doing your best to cope but you’re still struggling, turn to family, friends or mental health professionals for support.
Through the CONCERN Employee Assistance Program, mental health professionals provide free mental health services, guidance and resources to employees, including unlimited confidential counseling, conflict resolution services and referral assistance.
“If you’re struggling, reach out for support,” said Wilkes Donahue. “You can find resources to help manage your work-life balance. Set boundaries. People may take and take until you choose to say no. Use self-care to do things you enjoy and that refill your cup.”