With much of the nation working from home while self-isolating or social distancing due to coronavirus, it’s really important that we look after our mental health and emotional wellbeing—especially as this is a difficult and troubling time when our mental health may suffer. As a freelancer, I’ve worked from home for the past four years, and most work-from-homers know how isolating it can be even in normal times. I used to make a point of going out every day to look after my mental health, whether it was working out at the gym, visiting family, or having a coffee with a friend. At the moment, we can’t do these things, but it’s still vital to look after our mental health. So, here are 10 tips on looking after your mental wellbeing while working from home…
#1. Have a home office
If you have the space at home, set up a home office away from your relaxing area. This might be in the spare room, the garden if it’s warm enough, or even a chair in a different corner of your living room. Try to keep your “work life” and “home life” separate even though they’re in the same location. If your home-working environment feels cluttered, do some spring-cleaning before settling down to work.
#2. Figure out your hours
Although it may be tempting to work constantly because you have no social activities planned , it’s crucial to not work all the time. Figure out a work pattern that works for you and give yourself regular breaks during the day. Schedule downtime for relaxation, exercise, and speaking to others.
If you’re used to a set working pattern in the office, then you could stick to that—or see what your circadian rhythm is telling you.
#3. Stay in touch
Humans are social creatures, and we need social contact to survive. So, while you can’t physically spend time with many of your friends and family, call them regularly and stay in touch so you don’t feel lonely. If you have the option to video call or Skype them, then that’s even better as you can see their face. Studies have shown that this social contact can reduce anxiety.
#4. Get some fresh air
Even though it might not be possible to go out socially, try to get some fresh air where you can. If you have a garden, then sit outside for half an hour with a cup of tea or work outside if the weather allows. If you live in an apartment, spend time on the balcony or even open the windows to let some air in. Fresh air can do wonders for your mind.
#5. Do some exercise
Being stuck in the house doesn’t mean you can’t work out—you may just need to be creative in how you do it. If you have a garden, then you can head outside for a workout using an app or online tutorial. If you don’t, then there are some great sofa-based exercises on YouTube, and you could do star jumps and squats in the kitchen. If you have the room and the cash, you could order a folding treadmill or exercise bike.
#6. Take a break from the news
Although you may want to keep up with what’s going on in the world, studies have shown that watching the news constantly makes us more anxious. If you’d like to keep up with world events, then watch the news once a day—from a legitimate source—and turn off news app notifications. If you’re feeling worried or upset after watching the news, do something calming, positive, or fun rather than ruminating on what’s happening.
#7. Follow positive social media
At times like this, everyone on social media has an opinion. What’s more, while people are isolated from each other, they rely on social media to stay in touch and maintain vital social contact. However, there are lots of negative, misleading, and scaremongering posts on social media that can make you feel much worse about what’s happening. Try to stick to reading positive posts on social media, unfollow people who post negative or scaremongering posts, and don’t engage in opinionated debates that will lead to more stress.
#8. Do something creative
Studies have shown that we can improve our mental health by doing something creative. That might be drawing, sewing, cooking, or something else you enjoy. This also extends to learning new skills, as doing so can really help our minds. Maybe you could take the time to learn a new language using a free app, learn to play an instrument via YouTube tutorials, or take up a hobby such as knitting.
#9. Appreciate what you have
Even though things might seem awful at the moment, and you may be worried about your loved ones, your income, and your mental health, it’s also important to focus on the good things in life. If you’re feeling blue, make a list of all the things you have to be thankful for in your life—whether it’s your caring family, your pets, your home, or something else.
#10. Do something for others
You may feel helpless in times of crisis, but there’s always something you can do to help others. It might be taking food to elderly or vulnerable people who can’t go out, donating to charities who are struggling at the moment, or supporting freelancers who have lost their earnings by hiring them to do some work for you. We can always help each other out.
If you have any tips to add, feel free to add them below…