Surviving Social Distancing When Working from Home

Protect your mental health as you adjust to a new routine

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Working from home can be an uncomfortable change in lifestyle, so it’s important you don’t neglect your mental health as you adjust to your new routine.

Here are a few ways to stay healthy and focused when working remotely:

1. Actually get dressed

Our daily attire impacts how we act, speak and think. In fact, there have been studies showing that dressing up, or putting on work clothes, can make you feel more in control of your surroundings. How we treat ourselves (and how we treat ourselves in our home environment) can have a subtle, yet powerful, impact on our self-esteem.

2. Soak up that fresh air

Rain or shine, spending time outdoors can lower stress, anxiety and even blood pressure! Try getting outside first thing in the morning and take frequent breaks throughout your day. If you can, leave your phone inside your home, or at least in your pocket to get away from the news and focus on your self-care instead.

3. Plan and prep

Just as if you were going to the office, plan and prepare for your day.

  • Pack a lunch.
  • Take coffee breaks.
  • If you normally exercise during the day, set out work-out clothes and block out time for it.
  • Think of energizing ways to spend the extra time you might’ve spent commuting, such as doing a calming breathing exercise or 5-10 minute meditation.

4. Create boundaries

Boundaries give you the ability to balance work and home, creating necessary distance between the two.

  • Designate a working area in your home.
  • Clear that working space at the end of the day, every day.
  • Take your lunch break away from your desk.
  • Identify and announce your working hours, and let your coworkers know when you are “signing off” for the day.
  • Save household chores for “after hours” — avoid multitasking!

5. Give that brain a break

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed and unproductive, try adopting brain breaks.

Brain breaks increase creativity by increasing oxygen flow to the brain during the day. To do this:

  • Designate a working area in your home.
  • Make a list of tasks you can complete in an hour, even if it’s just one.
  • Once you complete that task, reward yourself with a short break.
  • Consider doing something enjoyable or active to get that oxygen pumping, such as taking a walk!
  • Resume the following hour with a new task and a new reward.

6. Connect from afar

Do not let distance keep you from connecting with your coworkers. Find ways to create your own virtual watercooler!

  • Call and check in with a coworker in the morning.
  • Set up informal meetings to catch up as you would in the office.
  • Try virtual walking meetings by phone or Facetime.

7. Plan, prioritize and recognize

Knowing how much time we spend at work, it is no surprise that a sudden shift to a new working environment may feel like a drastic life change. Planning ahead, prioritizing and recognizing your mental health needs will help to find better work (from home)-life balance, regardless of where you are.