Maintaining mental health while working from home

Mental Health, and separating work from home

Think about how a typical work day starts for you. Do you commute? Maybe you grab a coffee on the way to work once or twice a week. Every day of the week? Whatever your morning ritual and habits are they are an important part of your day whether we realize it or not. These have become part of you, and are what allow you to mentally prepare for your day. Should you find yourself working from home, you may have totally disregarded these as it’s not something we actively think about, and more have become a habit or background task for us.

Now that you’re working from home these rituals have disappeared. You may have felt the affects of this already. Perhaps you’re sluggish to get moving in the morning, getting out of bed later and later each day. The impact could also be manifesting as crankiness in the evening, or not being able to sleep as you can’t stop thinking about all the work you’ve left undone. This is common, and you’re not alone. Maybe your symptoms are different, or you haven’t actually identified what’s bothering you. Try some of our ideas, or adjust accordingly to your routine!

A very common part of work for most American’s is a daily commute. In 2019 the Washington post recorded that the average American was commuting about 27 minutes one way to work. That’s a lot of time you may not have accounted for in working from home! Now what do people do on their commute? Everyone is a little different. Whether you’re driving along listening and singing along to the radio, or listening to a podcast while you take the city bus, we all have ways of making the time go by faster. Take this into account for your daily routine. Maybe you’re up and at ‘em by 7am, but realistically you don’t reach work until 7:30am. Take half an hour to listen to that pod cast, or put on a playlist. If you need to get away from distractions at home maybe get in the car and turn on the radio. Some how some way you need to add a virtual commute in to your routine. This will help you get into the zone in the morning!

On the same point, if we commute to work then the same must happen at the end of the day to head home. This is your chance to cool down. TAKE IT! Subconsciously this is part of how you unwind and shift into your home mindset. You may find it easier to relax, or focus on house work after this. So at the end of your work day give yourself another virtual commute of the same amount of time. Listen to you favorite songs. You could also change it up. Maybe try a short meditation, or even go for a walk around your neighborhood to cool off. You’d be amazed how you feel when you get back home after a long, productive day of work.

If you read our article about time management and block scheduling, then you know how important keeping a schedule is to your mental health and organization during this time. Make sure to block in time for your commutes so nothing comes between you. Also, before you leave on your evening ‘commute’ home, make sure you schedule out or make changes to your schedule for tomorrow. It’s important to have everything done and set up for tomorrow before you finish your work day.

Now that you know you should commit to your commutes; you need to commit to the end of the work day. For many of us, a computer is involved with our work, so that could be as simple as powering down your device. I don’t mean ‘sleep mode’ I mean power OFF. This way you aren’t able to just pick back up where you left off, get one last edit in, etc. You save that for tomorrow. You are no longer at work, and need to tend to your chores, family and other aspects of your life! Jot down those quick ideas you have on a note pad or white board, and address them first thing when you ‘get to work’ tomorrow. Set time for you and yours so that you can maintain a healthy work/life balance.

Commuting may have been a drag before but now you have a fresh way to look at it as a way to energize and decompress each day! This mindset can even be carried over to the day you switch back to ACTUALLY driving to work. Mix it up, try different versions until you find the way that works for your new home office situation. Take a morning walk, maybe to a coffee shop and get one to go as you head back home to start your day. Find the methods that work for you, commit to the time you’ve set to end your work day, and watch how your spirits lift and productivity increases!

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