Working from home- how to protect your mental health

It’s mental health awareness week (MHAW)!! A week that’s all about raising the awareness we need to reduce stigma and educate those who are unsure of mental illness and what it entails. I have been posting some short blogs over on the Love Your Mind Facebook page so please check those out if you haven’t already. The theme for MHAW this year is LONELINESS, something which we all experience from time to time, even more since the pandemic.

Now although I’m not specifically talking about loneliness today, I am looking at a topic which is very similar. Since having my own experiences and hearing from others about the impacts of working from home, It’s come to my attention that it can be lonely, isolating and be generally bad for our mental well-being. But this is the new world we live in, and it’s reality for a lot of us now. Being alone all day can be lonely, it can lead to us feeling low, unmotivated and a lot of the time leaves us being left with our own negative thoughts, which can spiral into depression.

I want to help those struggling and help to make your life at home that little bit brighter. So here’s my tips on how to look after your mental health whilst working from home-

1). Get dressed as normal- This is simple yet so effective. If you’ve been working from home for a while you’ll know how easy it is to slide down the slippery slope of rolling out of bed 10 minutes before work and working in your dressing gown. STOP. Our body and mind needs time to wake up and reset before a long day at work and how does your brain know it’s work time when you’re wearing the Christmas pyjamas you’ve just slept in for 8 hours?? Not only does it wake up your mind and body but when you look good you feel good. Give yourself a purpose to get up, what shall I wear today? Shall I try my new lipstick? if you look bright you feel bright!!! Plus, know one wants to smell of 8 hours sleep for the day.❤️

2). Plan even more breaks in the day- It’s really easy when working from home to forget that you need a proper lunch break. At the office you’d probably waste half an hour catching up with people throughout the day, remember you need these breaks at home too. Make yourself frequent drinks throughout the day, eat your lunch away from your laptop or spend your lunch break on a little walk. Our brains get tired and need breaks, the harder you work it the less productive it will be.

3). Move your body- Think of the steps you accrue naturally through the day, walking to the office from your car, walking to the shop at lunch time, walking up and down the office whilst you print/copy documents. These steps are lost when working from home, but your mind and body need that stimulation. The less we move, the more aches and pains we get and the more brain dead we feel. Whilst waiting for the kettle to boil at home, run up and down the stairs a few times, walk round the garden, do a few star jumps, or go to the gym after work. I always save my long runs for working from home days, it makes me feel revived and gives me a burst of energy for the evening. Not only is it good for our bodies but increasing your heart rate increases oxygen to the brain and helps you to stay focused. If you’re feeling brain dead and tired, get up for 5 minutes and get moving…thank me later!!

4). Stay in contact with people throughout the day- Got a question for one of your colleagues? Why not ring them instead of typing it in an email. You might not be at the office but it’s important to stay connected. Keep talking to people, communication is a great boost for our mental health. It helps us to feel less isolated and strengthens work relationships which are vital for a happy workplace. Also, why not ring a loved one on your lunch break? They’d probably love to hear from you. Whatever it is, keep socialising, that’s what humans are meant to do.❤️

5). Get out the house after work- Before the pandemic would you stay in your 4 walls for 5 days at a time? No of course you wouldn’t because it’s boring, lonely and makes us feel rubbish. So why do we do it when we work from home? Plan things out of the house after work. Even if it’s just your weekly supermarket shop, don’t save it til the weekend, get out after work and wind down from the day. Go for a walk with friends, get a coffee or even go to the cinema, if we don’t leave the place we have been working all day our minds will still be in work mode.🤍

6). Try to separate your office from your home space- This may not be possible for some people, but if you have the space, try to separate the place you work from the rest of the house. If you work in your bedroom, your mind will relate that room to work/stress/worries and you will therefore struggle to sleep at night. Let your brain know that the desk upstairs is for working and everywhere else is for resting/relaxing/sleeping. Also put your laptop away at the end of the day, out of sight, out of mind, that is tomorrow’s worry not tonight’s.🥰

I could carry on for ages but I don’t want you to get bored of reading so I’ll end the tips here for today. Thank you so much for reading to this point. Remember to look after yourself that little bit extra when working from home, you’ve got this.🙌🏻

P.s. In relation to MHAW I just want to let you know that I will continue to blog for as long as I can. I will never stop raising awarness of mental illness and want people to know that they are not alone in this fight. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me….lots of love x

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