Under normal circumstances, everyone has great things to say about remote working. Improved productivity, better work-life balance, making your own schedule — it’s a dream for most people. However, it’s silly to assume that everything is roses and daisies. As a remote worker, and given the current situation, you experience stress just like everyone else. Stress management is typically a term used at work. Now, it seems to be neglected because, well, you’re working at home — you have it easy, right?
Sure, there is strong evidence that working from home is just as productive or even more productive with suggestions that the experience lower stress levels. But let’s be honest: without self-motivation and communication throughout the day, feelings of isolation can creep up on you. The same goes with disorganization and struggling to maintain workflows.
In general, stress management in the workplace has been studied and implemented for decades. However, most methods simply don’t translate to an entire population of remote workers forced to work from home due to the Coronavirus. Now that some people have been working from home for over one month in the United States, and for months on end in other countries, it’s time to consider how to handle the unique stresses of working from home.
Who said remote working was stress-free? Your stress management at work (or, technically, at home) shouldn’t be neglected because of location. Couple the COVID-19 stress and lack of ability to move around like you may have before and it’s easy to see how going crazy working from home is possible.
We’d like to help you with our Top 5 suggestions!
1. Make a daily routine to stick by it
There’s a reason “daily routine” sits at the top—everything else depends on it. Although you work from home, you still need a structure for the work day. Disorganization and procrastination are the biggest culprits of work-related stress. Establish a routine to keep your daily workflow in order.
If you’re one of the many folks who have transitioned to working from home in recent weeks, it might have felt great at first. No more alarm clocks, cramped subway cars, or pants that aren’t soft. But it can have its downsides.
While it might be fun to work from your bed on occasion, sticking to your normal routine actually has a lot of benefits when it comes to your productivity and well-being.
- It lessens stress
- It maintains good habits
- It keeps you from procrastinating
- It’s great for your health
Perhaps the best reason for keeping your daily routine during a tumultuous time is that it helps to maintain your mental and physical health.
The reassurance of a predictable routine calms nerves without us even realizing it. When structure or routine vanishes suddenly because of something outside your control, it can feel like having a rug pulled out from under you.
Getting enough sleep is key to our health, and right now, it might not be as easy as you’d like. But sticking to your routine can help.
2. Stop working when the day is done
Actually, sign off at 5pm or when your work for the day is completed, and separate yourself from your workspace. Most of us often find ourselves lingering later than we need to doing non-work-related things, or doing work things that aren’t urgent just because we’re at home sitting by the computer or mobile device, constantly.
One of the reasons many managers don’t approve of remote work under normal circumstances is they fear employees will slack off without that physical, in-person oversight. But, in fact, the opposite tends to be the reality: remote workers are more likely to overwork.
When your personal life and your work are both under the same roof, it’s harder to switch off. So, be diligent about “clocking out” when the day is done.
3. Limit daily social media usage
Social media has been linked with an increased risk of depression. We scroll through all of these pieces of life, but we don’t live any of them. We see pictures of Paris and London and far off places, but we don’t go or cannot travel at the moment. Some may experience envy, jealousy, and complete inadequacy. And the more that we put ourselves in this situation, the higher our risk of depression.
If you want to lower your risk of feeling the blues, get off of the computer and make sure to move your body! Instead of scrolling, use that time to get up and move. For example, use the iPhone Screen Time feature to set a 20-minute time limit per day for social media usage.
Ironically, by not having social media in my daily work-from-home routine is what actually does get most people up and moving. If you have ten minutes of downtime, do something productive!
4. Exercise as much as possible
Being stuck at home is not an excuse for avoiding exercise.
While your gym may be closed, many gyms are offering online classes, yoga classes are available on YouTube, and people working from home are connecting in groups to exercise together before work or after their work day is done.
Push-ups, burpees, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, planks and many other exercises can be performed without equipment. Walking, for example, is one of the best exercises available and accessible to everyone and that comes with getting out in nature and breathing fresh air for extra added benefits. Consider varying your movement and your mileage to keep things engaging as long as you are social distancing or in isolated locations, as best practice.
Even though many retailers are closed, you can purchase yoga blocks, resistance bands, foam rollers and other equipment online. As funny as this may seem, there is always the option to incorporate items from home like canned goods and laundry detergent and using them in exercises such as lunges, bicep curls, dead lifts and rows.
In between work periods throughout the day, you can also try to take 10 minutes of short breaks to try to exercise every muscle group.
5. Establish multiple locations in your home where you can do work
One home office just isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need your kitchen and your bedroom to also be home offices so as to provide alternative scenery on days when you’re tired of not being able to leave the house while working from home.
For example, have a dedicated “office” portion of an apartment or home where you can sit when really needing to concentrate on the job. Otherwise, if casually researching or eating or working on an otherwise low-pressure assignment, consider moving to the couch or having a snack at the kitchen table while trying to avoid smearing food grease on the computer.
By having different spaces in your home dedicated to different levels of concentration, this can help you transition from one assignment to the next when you don’t have a manager to tell you that it’s time to move on from project A to project B.
Lastly, and in contrast to social media, keep family and friends close to you and connected. We are all going through similar experiences so keep that in mind. Make sure to call or video conference your friends and family in your downtime just to provide you with some perspective and life balance. Remember that this is a “one-day-at-a-time” scenario also!