Working remotely offers a number of advantages. You can work from the comfort of your own home, in whatever feels comfortable, and often in your own time. However, there can definitely be challenges, especially when it comes to your social and emotional well-being. Remote work can feel isolating or, at times, overwhelming. In some cases, remote work can even mean less boundaries between yourself and your work.
So how can you maintain your mental health while working remotely day after day? Here are a few of our tips:
For some, the draw to remote work is the opportunity to break outside of the usual 9-5 schedule. You can set your own hours and take time off when you see fit. That said, it is good for your mental health to have something of a routine and structure each day.
You may have to try a few different routines to determine what works best for you. Do you work better in the day or in the evening? Do you prefer weekends or weekdays? Where do you work best? Take all of this into consideration when creating your routine. Try to start work around the same time and stop around the same time each day. Schedule breaks, as well!
Where do you work each day? For some, working from home may mean working on their bed or on the couch, but this might not be the best choice for your mental health. If you’re too cozy, you may find yourself wanting to sleep in and becoming lethargic.
Have a dedicated workspace, whether a full home office or your desk. Curate it with all the things that will help you feel motivated, focused, and balanced. That might mean keeping a few energy bars in your desk drawer for when you start to feel low energy. It might mean creating a playlist that helps you work. Natural lighting is also a must, as it will help you feel less cooped up, more energized, and able to sleep better at night.
Sitting stagnant for long periods of time is something that can be detrimental to office workers, as well. Over time, it can make you feel more tired and lethargic, and less focused. Make sure you take time to get up and move around throughout your work day.
Between tasks, you can get up and stretch. Maybe halfway through your day, you could go for a walk or run or go to the gym. By exercising, you can release endorphins that can help you reduce workday stress. It will also help you return to your work reinvigorated.
Just because you work remotely doesn’t mean you have to work from your own home. Try going to work at a library a couple times a week — a great way to support your local libraries, as well! — or going to a coffee shop. This change in scenery can keep you from feeling too boxed in. It can also help you be a little more social even when working from home. You’re working around other people, even if you don’t talk to them, which can help fill some of that social well.
Isolation can be one of the most emotionally trying parts of working from home. But work is just one aspect of your life. It’s important that when you work from home, you don’t make your work everything. With your more flexible schedule, reach out to your family and friends. Ask if they want to meet up for coffee, have a game night, or find other ways to spend time together. This will keep you from feeling too isolated and from work overpowering everything else.
In a structured office job, your employer may tell you the best time to take your 15-minute breaks and lunch breaks. When you work remotely, however, you set your own breaks. It’s important that you actually take advantage of the opportunity for a break rather than letting yourself get too bogged down with work.
The way you schedule your breaks is up to you. It might be a break in between each round of work or a break at certain times. You might have to try a couple different methods before you find the best thing for you. But taking breaks will help keep you from feeling burned out as you work.
Whether you work for one company or you perform contract work with several clients, it’s important to set boundaries with your employer. Often when connected by the internet, your employer might assume that every time you’re online, you’re available to work. Let them know when you will and won’t be responding to work inquiries. For instance, if you don’t work in the morning or during the weekends, let them know you will respond to their email when you next return to work. Let them know how much work you’re willing and able to take on. Be kind but firm in your boundaries for the best working relationship.