Working from home - your emotional, psychological, physical, social and mental health

EEAST Wellbeing Support

Last week we talked about your physical comfort. Now we want to look at a different element.

Once you are physically comfortable, remind yourself how important looking after your own overall wellbeing is. Working with just one wellbeing segment in isolation will not help you thrive in your new circumstances.

Every section in this overall series relates to your holistic wellbeing in some way and integrating as many elements as possible will help keep you mentally, emotionally, physically, socially, environmentally and psychologically well. So here are some tips:

Keep your ‘normal’ work habits as far as possible

  • Set up a routine for your workday: create boundaries between ‘home’ time and ‘work’ time.  Do the things you might usually do before work to make the dividing lines clear (ie make morning coffee, watch breakfast TV (!), go for a run, shower, dress, and move with focus to your workspace)
  • Establish a start time and a finish time: with structured breaks and exercise time programmed in. Remember not to go too far beyond your working hours either – just because you do not have a journey does not mean you should not stick to your limits
  • Keep to the dedicated workspace you have created (ideally avoiding your bedroom - you do not want to confuse work with sleep)
  • Keep regular meetings - especially team meetings - and find some time to check in with each other to make sure everyone is OK.  Small teams can have a morning organisational call – just 10-15 minutes to clarify who is doing what, when and how
  • Keep regular breaks: 10-15 minutes throughout the day will help avoid muscle ache, rest your eyes, and keep you sane.  For short breaks just drop your arms, roll your shoulders, twist to right and left from the waist.  For longer breaks take a brief walk or do some full body stretches

Manage your time well

  • Set alarms: work for 50 mins, take 5 off to stretch your legs, grab a drink, dream.  then take a comfort break and return to your desk.
  • Set expectations: give yourself time to do what you need to do having established your priorities with your team members
  • Set family expectations: establish boundaries if your kids are at home, set up a ‘reward’ system if appropriate (ie let’s meet at 5pm for tea and cake?)
  • Use headphones: these indicate to others in your household you are ‘otherwise engaged’ and can cut out other noise
  • Make lists: establish what you want to get done each day, cross off when completed so you have a sense of achievement.  allow time for sideswipes too: there are not many days without some time-consuming distraction!


Boost your mental health and resilience whenever you can

  • Ask for help when you need it: you do not have to solve everything on your own just because you are in separate places.  Asking for help is essential for good mental health: you will retain your level of efficacy and feel both less pressure and less isolated
  • Remember your personal values/standards: continue to work as you always would, being responsive, focussed and trustworthy as usual.  This will not only give you points with your manager and colleagues, but also help you feel good about yourself
  • Enjoy the flexibility: take a break to bake a cake, fill (or empty) the washing machine, play with the kids (a reward for keeping quiet for 2 hours!), take the dog for a walk - all between meetings
  • Ensure you have ‘wind down’ time: step away from your workstation at the end of the day, reflect on what you have done and might need to do tomorrow and then turn to your family, your friends, or whatever the evening has in store

Connection

Communication and connection (basic human needs) are vital for your mental wellbeing: to reduce stress levels, help with feelings of isolation and to help you stay focussed and productive.

Keep connected with your colleagues and managers. 

  • Keep those regular team meetings and 1-2-1’s wherever possible - perhaps make even more effort when working from home to keep the social contact going
  • Build on collaborations: more than ever, working closely with colleagues, managers and any external ‘clients’, sharing ideas, developing joint pieces of work, will help you maintain a sense of normality
  • Use video conferencing wherever possible – it may not be as bad as you think!

 

Retaining Balance 

Keeping a sense of balance is also essential for your wellbeing – to try to find a counterbalance for anything you do.

  • Manage your stress and anxiety levels through problem solving, relaxation or meditation. There are many apps to support you in any of these, for all levels, and to suit all types of personality. Experiment to find the ones that work for you. Our ‘extra sources of help guide’ will point you to some of these, especially those established specifically for Covid. Again, the principles will apply at any time.
  • Turn off your technology in the evening: we can be connected 24 hours a day but then find it hard to switch off.  Take a detox between work and home and do something completely unrelated for awhile.
  • Find alternatives to work: explore new activities you might enjoy, or simply ensure you balance your work life with your own, and your personal, life.  Spend time each day on photography, music, with your family, making memories

 

Positive thinking

Keeping on the theme of balance - remember there is always a silver lining. Whatever happens in life is never all bad, or all good. There is always a change, or a learning, or a meeting that results from what has happened.


There are many benefits to working from home (which we will come to later) alongside the things that are more difficult to deal with. So, this isn’t about always being unrealistically positive, but in finding ways to distract yourself from the negative. After all we always have a choice in how we think, react, or behave. 

Take care of yourself and each other.

Published 2 July 2020

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