As we try to navigate the “new normal” of remote working, it’s important that we do not neglect our mental health or wellbeing. If you ever find yourself in a position where you are having to prioritize work over your mental health, something needs to change.
Remote working can be an incredibly positive experience for the vast majority of people. Although, for some, remote working has the potential to be quite challenging if you haven’t laid the groundwork and building blocks to keep your mental health in check. Our 10 tips for keeping your mental health in check whilst remote working will set you on an exciting path.
This is the perfect article to read if you have just recently been asked to start working remotely. COVID-19 has dramatically shifted the way in which millions of people are approaching work across the globe. With prolonged periods in lockdown, it is more essential than ever to make sure that you have good mental health.
If you have been working remotely for a significant amount of time, this article will help you to shake off bad habits with combative ideas and techniques to support your mental health. Are you ready to start exploring some tips and tricks to boost your mental health whilst remote working? Let’s dive straight in.
Take Regular Breaks
In the same way that you would have regular coffee breaks in the workplace, you should try to replicate this at home. This means stepping away from your computer for short periods of time to refresh your mind and grabbing a drink to stay hydrated. You need to be kind to yourself and remember that everyone should have time to recuperate and reenergize.
Taking regular breaks will help you to step away from potentially stressful tasks and collect your thoughts. Having time to be able to think is immensely beneficial for managing high-pressure situations. Regular, blissful breaks will give you the thinking time you need to cope and respond to any pressure you may be faced with. During these moments, you can take some much-needed time for reflection to widen your perspective on the day’s events.
Many people do not take regular breaks when remote working because they “don’t have the time”. For the sake of your mental health, you need to be able to make time for breaks, helping you to recharge your batteries and maintain a consistent level of energy and enthusiasm throughout the day. Regular breaks can help you to find the ideal balance of productivity and wellbeing in your working day.
Pick Up The Phone
Never underestimate the power of picking up the phone and talking to a colleague. When you’re spending prolonged periods of time working from home, feelings of isolation and loneliness can creep up on you, but these are entirely preventable if you keep communicating with other humans. This gives you the opportunity to talk to someone about how your day has been going, whilst getting on with the job at hand.
You want to be able to hear someone’s voice during the working day and it’s not always practical to have the radio on all of the time, although this depends on the nature of your work. Grabbing the phone and dialing up the number of a team member can uplift your spirits and give you a much-needed boost during the working day.
It’s always nice to speak with people that are in a similar situation as you. This creates a level of empathy and understanding that is difficult to replicate. Speaking on the phone can give you the opportunity to voice any concerns that you may have about the existing workload, providing you with a sense of clarity. Sometimes, it can be easier to communicate your emotions through a phone call than in an email or text message.
Embrace Video Conferencing
If there’s an opportunity to jump on Skype or Zoom with the team, never let it go to waste! This is the perfect time for you to have some human interaction. If you have just recently transitioned into working remotely, video conferencing is an opportunity for you to see some familiar faces from around the office. This sense of familiarity will comfort you during the working day. If you have any work-related concerns that are affecting your mental wellbeing, this is the ideal time to voice them to the relevant team members.
Many people prefer to communicate through video conferencing applications because it helps them to articulate concepts and ideas that they would otherwise be unable to through written words. The facial expressions of your team members can also help to influence your mood. For instance, if everyone on the call is smiling, this is likely to make you smile, filling you with positive energy. Video conferencing is the ultimate crowd pleaser!
On any team call, there are always moments of lightheartedness and these are vital to your mental health when remote working. Listening to others as they crack jokes can fill you with laughter and joy. These are the kind of emotions that you want to be feeling. There is always a balance between professionalism and lightheartedness in any communication with other team members, but a few moments of laughter and fun on a video conferencing call can only be good for your mental wellbeing.
Stick To Your Schedule
It can be easy to let the distractions of home life take hold of your working day, but you cannot let this happen. At the beginning of every day, as you take a seat at your desk, you should divide up the hours of your working day and allocate blocks of time for specific tasks. It might also be worth allocating time for those unexpected calls and emails that can appear at any time. Rather than throwing your schedule off course, you will have allocated leeway to deal with these events as they arise.
If you’re feeling sluggish during the day, take a break and look at your schedule. On some days, you just won’t be able to physically achieve every task that you set out to complete. You’re only human, after all. Individual productivity can vary on a day-to-day basis, but if you go into each day with a plan of action, you are likely to get more tasks done.
Stay Active & Get Exercise
There is a strong correlation between exercise and mental wellbeing. People that get regular exercise usually choose to do so because it makes them feel more energetic throughout the day and helps them to sleep better during the night. It’s also a great way to inject some positivity into your life, as it makes you feel better about yourself, offering a general sense of overall wellbeing - and who doesn’t want that?
A recent study, completed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour can reduce the risk of major depression by 26%. These are staggering statistics that clearly indicate the importance of exercise and its role in improving a person’s mental wellbeing. When you are spending all day behind a desk, you need to be able to release muscle tension to achieve a state of relaxation.
Set Boundaries Between Work & Home Life
Have you picked a movie that you want to watch in the evening? Do you have a recipe that you cannot wait to cook? Is there a book that you desperately want to start reading? If you want to do these things, you’re going to need to make sure that you have set time aside in the evening. This means setting boundaries between work and home life. Mastering work-life balance will make remote working a sustainable option for you.
You need to be clear with the rest of your team about when you finish work every day. If they email you at 4pm with a new task to complete, you need to manage expectations and be honest with them about whether you have enough time to complete it before 5pm. This will help the rest of the team to understand the flow, length, and structure of your working day.
Create A Positive Work Environment
Is your home office set up to support you throughout the working day? If essential pieces of equipment are scattered around the house, going to search for these will only slow down your productivity. From the very beginning of your day, make sure that you have everything you need in front of you. This will prevent your day from being slowed down.
If there are other people in your household that may distract you from your work, you could consider potentially distancing yourself away from them during times of focus and concentration - and this includes pets! A positive work environment will ensure that you are able to carry out tasks and activities to the best of your ability, helping you to build confidence.
A lack of confidence lies at the heart of many people’s worries and anxieties. If you create an infrastructure where you can work productively at home, this will give you confidence in your ability to complete projects and be effective in your role. This confidence will soothe your mental wellbeing and turn remote working into a positive experience.
Ask For Clarity On Goals & Expectations
To keep your mind at rest, you should have a clear idea of what is expected of you as a worker. This is another reason why consistent communication with your team leader is important when remote working. Knowing what is expected of you will give you defined goals and objectives to meet, so you won’t be second-guessing yourself as to whether you are meeting expectations or not.
When you’re working from a distance, getting regular validation about the quality of your output from team leaders isn’t always possible. This can leave you second-guessing about whether your performance is in-line with expectations. Schedule a video conferencing call with your team leader and ask them to clarify the targets you should be hitting and the objectives you should be meeting.
Be Honest With Your Team Leader
During this call with your team leader, you could also take the opportunity to talk about any potential challenges that you have faced in working remotely. We know remote working can be both a blessing and a burden for parents. When you have kids, working at home is all about striking a balance between being productive and caring for your children.
It’s important that your employer understands the situation that you are in. By sharing your situation with them, they will be able to find solutions and workarounds to accommodate your childcare needs and take the pressure off. For instance, if you’re trying to take care of children whilst the schools are closed, your employer will be able to allow time for you to look after them during the day, by potentially decreasing your workload on a temporary basis.
Add Karma To Slack Or Microsoft Teams
Karma, our intuitive workplace tool, can help teams feel closer together when spending time apart. With seamless integration into Slack and Microsoft Teams, Karma is designed to build highly-productive remote working teams through positive reinforcement. Team members can bond while celebrating each other’s micro-successes on a daily basis.
Encouraging appreciation and recognition among remote working teams can improve the mental health of individual members. These quick moments of appreciation and recognition can give team members a much-needed boost of confidence, energy, and enthusiasm in the work they do. At Karma, we believe that the true potential of a workforce can only be unlocked when every team member feels like they are in a positive, supportive environment.
Add Karma to Slack today and build a high-performance remote working culture!