Man with headphones on laptop

Creating new routines and staying socially connected.

With the sudden shift to working from home for many employees due to COVID-19, the risk of feeling isolated or disconnected has increased, but there are many steps we can take to maintain our mental health through these tough times.

Here are some tips to help maintain your mental health while working from home (our staff at HeadsUpGuys are following these too).

1. Create a dedicated workspace

If you’ve got an extra room, try setting up a desk, or shift things around in another room to create a dedicated workspace that is physically separated from where you usually spend time at home.

This is important for switching from ‘work’ mode at the end of your day, back to ‘home’.

2. Make sure it’s comfortable and limit distractions

Make sure your workspace is as comfortable as possible – with good ergonomics in mind regarding chair and table height and computer positioning – so that you’re not sitting with your back and shoulders holding tension all day.

Keep your phone handy if you need to, but try not to check it for updates more often than you usually would.

3. Get dressed and ready

It’s tempting to sit around in pyjamas or sweat pants all day, but it’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy where you can. Change your clothes and get ready for the day like you usually would.

4. Stay connected with co-workers

Feeling isolated is one of the bigger challenges when working from home, but there are a lot of ways to stay in touch with co-workers – email, phone, Skype, and Zoom, to name a few. Try to schedule regular times to check in with each other.

If there are other co-workers you usually see around the office or workspace, give them a shout – reach out to see how they are doing. This is not only good for your mental health, but their’s as well.

5. Make a schedule and create a new routine

Getting a new routine in place is key to maintaining your mental health. Create a schedule with start time, breaks, and end of day. Sticking to this new schedule will help to reduce stress as you have more structure while working from home.

6. Get up and move

Don’t forget to take breaks, get up, and stretch. Usually at work you might walk over to another person’s office or another building to hand something off. This might not seem like much but it is physical activity and it’s really important to keep active now that you are working from home.

Try to get up once an hour and walk around for a few minutes, do some stretches and/or get some fresh air.

7. Keep being productive

Though the setting may have changed, your job is still your job and you need to take it as seriously as you normally would.

If you’re feeling a lot of stress because of COVID-19, keeping busy can be a huge help. Work can get your mind off other things and focus your attention somewhere more productive, while giving you a sense of accomplishment as you knock items off your to-do list.

8. Be flexible and go easy on yourself

These are strange times and we are all making big adjustments to our regular routines and habits in order to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

If working from home is new to you, expect it to be an adjustment. Eventually you will get the hang of things and find your bearings – it’s okay if that takes some time.

Written by the HeadsUpGuys Team - Combining lived experience, clinical practice, and research expertise. Reviewed and approved by Dr. John Ogrodniczuk - Professor and Director of the Psychotherapy Program at the Department of Psychiatry, The University of British Columbia.
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