Being a remote worker has its advantages. There’s no commute, it can be less stressful and saves you money (including travel fees, eat out lunches and vending machine drinks and treats!). But there is also a downside to being a remote worker – it can impact negatively on your mental health.
As this Forbes article illustrates, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the rise of remote workers. It’s something that is likely to be the new norm for many:
“Remote work has been a rising trend for several years, and the Covid-19 pandemic will reveal the opportunities and challenges of working from home for many companies that may not have considered it an option.”
But remote workers are voicing concerns over their mental health. Feelings of loneliness and Isolation, difficulty in both getting motivated and switching off at the end of each day, as well as feelings of burnout are all big negatives to working remotely.
So if you’re a remote worker looking for hacks to protect your mental health, here are some ideas to get you started.
Be in the right headspace for remote work
Create a work routine and stick to working hours. The more normal and routine you can make your day, the better. Dress for work, too and when you are preparing for the day ahead, get yourself mentally prepared for being at work.
Opt for virtual coffee breaks
To help minimise the feelings of isolation, look to have regular virtual meetups with others. Virtual coffee breaks or lunches are a good choice, as you are getting some downtime whilst also catching up with someone you don’t already live with!
Look to co-work with a colleague or friend
Coworking can be another good hack for the remote worker. It helps you feel part of a team and it helps keep you focused. You’re also less likely to get distracted as you feel more accountable to your coworking colleagues. [If you’d like more tips on how to stay focused when working from home, check out this blog post.]
Take plenty of breaks
Get up and move around. You may not have the coffee break chats to look forward to, but it’s essential you still give yourself regular breaks. They’re even better if you get outside and take in some fresh air.
As a remote worker you need to reinforce boundaries
When you’re a remote worker it’s easy for those boundaries to get a bit blurred. Family and friends calling you, outside distractions, and even the sounds associated with being at home – such as music, the children, pets and the TV can all impact on your productivity. So ensure you’re establishing the boundaries you need, to create the best working environment for you.
Ensure you switch off at the end of your working day
It’s essential that you learn to switch off at the end of your day. Not only does it give you a rest from working, it’s the time you need to spend with your family and friends. So honour your downtime as much as your work time.
Maintain relationships at work
As a remote worker, it’s crucial that you maintain relationships with those you work with. This can vary immensely but can also include things such as team meetings, accountability catch-ups, and progress and review calls. Video calls are always a great way to interact on these, as it gives your communication an added dimension.
Stay in touch with your friends and family
Managing your mental health as a remote worker isn’t just limited to your working hours. Socialising outside of work and with non-work colleagues is just as important for your mental health.
Practice relaxation techniques
Finally, look to incorporate some relaxation techniques into your daily routine. Try your hand at things such as yoga, meditation, journaling, mindfulness and visualisation. And don’t forget going for a walk, singing and dancing – are all great relaxation techniques too!
Being a remote worker has many benefits. But as with any role, there will be disadvantages too. The tips above will help you to protect your mental health and any negative effects remote working may be triggering. However, the effect it has on your mental health has to be something that you and your supervisor monitor, manage and protect together.