The world has changed for all of us over the last year, and one significant change has been the shift to remote working. As Optimists, we believe this new way of working has many benefits. Actually, any statistics you look at show that people like working from home. Nonetheless, it comes with some challenges too.
According to statistics, 53% of people feel like they need to be available at all times. At the same time, 32% of remote workers admit their mental health has worsened during the pandemic, and 42% of those say the main reason is their inability to switch off from work.
Whilst remote working can be appealing due to flexibility and freedom, we need to be careful and consciously make the right decisions for our mental health and wellbeing. We have gained autonomy over many areas of our work lives, but as we all know, “with great power comes great responsibilities”, so we cannot underestimate the importance of taking care of ourselves.
Like any new situation, it takes a while to get used to it, and it needs some trial and error, but ultimately we can all find the right solution that fits our needs.
Here are some of our tips:
- Create a routine that works for you.
One great thing about working from home is that we have more freedom than before to organise our days. The idea is that you take the reins and create a routine that suits your needs.
To do this, you need to spend time understanding what works for you. For example, when are you more productive? Where do you do your best work? And how can you manage your workload in a better way?
Once you know when and where you perform at your best, it’s easier to decide how to manage and organise your day to maximise your productivity and potential.
- Create a ‘switch-off’ activity.
Switching off after work can be challenging when we have our computers right in our living rooms or even bedrooms. This is why having a switch-off activity is extremely helpful.
These types of activities or small routines are simple behaviours that set up our minds for our next task, whatever that is. For example, some people start their day with a coffee before jumping on the train for their morning commute. In doing this, those coffee drinkers have created a routine to ease themselves into their workday.
Now that our work is centred around our home, we don’t have the luxury of a commute to disconnect, so we have to be intentional in establishing some routines that facilitate a start and an end to our working day. For example, after switching off your computer at the end of the day, go for a quick walk to flip your mind to personal time.
The idea is that you have an activity that helps your mind reset and switch off for the day.
- Schedule personal and social times.
An essential part of maintaining our mental health and wellbeing is finding time both for ourselves and our relationships. Here are some examples of things we can do during and after work to benefit our mental health.
- Taking breaks during work hours to decompress or get away from the computer.
- Schedule time for ourselves, so we don’t just go from work tasks to home tasks. Put some time in your schedule for things you enjoy, for example, exercise, meditate or just go for a walk after work.
- Dedicate time to our social relationships. Re-engage with people and enjoy their company once more. Keeping these habits in place even if we are working remotely is essential for both the individual and the team.
- Develop a positive mindset.
Whatever situation we are in, there are always two sides to the coin. We can either look at the positive or the negative side of any case. For us, working and keeping a positive mindset is essential for our mental health and in many ways, it has kept us safe and sane during the last year.
Developing a positive mindset can’t be done in a day, but the way we do it is by aiming to always have an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Spend the first 5 to 10 minutes of every day just thinking and being grateful for all the good things in your lives.
With everything that goes on in our daily lives, we can easily forget about the small things and how lucky we are. So, starting every morning with a dose of gratitude gets your mindset straight into a positive one.
- Reflect on your previous activities and behaviours.
Take some time to understand what went well or what could be improved on at the end of each day. Even small changes can have a significant impact on our mental health.
Every person is different, and no one size fits all regarding mental health, wellbeing, or work-life balance. The crucial part is understanding the importance they have in our lives and remembering that we are working from home, not living at the office. Our careers and jobs are important, but our personal lives and mental health are always top priorities.
Ollie Phillips is the founder of Optimist Performance, a company specialising in performance coaching, leadership and behavioural change. www.optimistperformance.com