We all know how 2020 went and how millions of people ended up working from home. Although this did help remove the stress associated with daily commutes, the truth is most of the world was not prepared to work from home. Remote work does bring up so many extra stressors that can easily hurt your productivity, focus, and mood.
I fully understand stress. I manage shipping containers and even delays of a couple of hours can lead to huge logistics problems. And even I, who thought dealing with stress was something I mastered, ended up having huge problems when starting remote work.
The big problem for most people is that they drastically underestimated how difficult it can be to work at home. There are countless things that increase stress, like internet problems, the lack of social interaction, and wasted time because of not knowing how to use new software.
Stress quickly piles up so self-care becomes very important. Make sure you make time to distress. And do it every single day, not just during the weekend. Here are some great ways to do exactly that.
Make It A Habit To Have Daily Workout Breaks
When you start to feel frustrated, stuck with work, or stressed, just take a quick break. One of the best advantages of working from home is you are not restricted to specific work hours. Sure, there are some things that you have to absolutely respect. But it is so much easier to squeeze in some workout time.
My personal favorite is a quick set of yoga asanas to energize and destress while I get the blood going. You might try something else, like hopping on a treadmill or doing some HIIT. Regardless of what you choose, it will boost your mood and can energize and destress you.
Respect your Cut-Off Time
A big challenge with remote work is that you do not have to respect office closing time. There is no train you need to catch to get home. Combine this with working in an industry where there is always something you can do, and you can often find yourself going way past normal work hours.
If you work too much, stress catches up and you have no opportunity to lose some steam. This is why you need an official workday closing time, like 6 PM. Basically, you need to work the same number of hours you would at the office, not more simply because you are at home.
Create Your Personal Post-Work Ritual
Many parents know children need bedtime rituals before going to bed. This is because routines practically tell our body what the next step is.
By setting up a post-work ritual, your day quickly improves. Before remote work, you most likely went home from work by following the same route and you did the same things. You might have made the exact same things when you got home too. That was your post-work ritual.
Now that you work from home, you might not have a good, clear routine set up for the time after work ends. Your brain might thus stay stuck in “working mode” for way longer than it should be. This only increases stress and you do not relax.
Look for ways to clearly tell your brain that work is done. For instance, you can try changing your clothes, doing a quick workout, or even something as simple as taking a shower.
Create And Protect A Proper Work Environment
Our home is where we should feel safe. It is our retreat from the world. But now, we have to work from home. Outside stressors are taking over our safe spaces.
For most people that struggle with working from home, a huge problem is there is no separation between work and relaxation. There is no clear work area. Solve this fast by creating your work area, a part of the home you only use for work, like a desk or even one specific armchair.
Do not work in spaces that you normally use for relaxation. When you do this, your mind associates the spaces with work stress, not relaxation.
As an extra tip, you should always keep your work area as free from clutter as possible. Try to have only the items that you use for work there. After work day is over, remove the laptop, organize the clutter that piled up, and simply walk away.
Do Not Meal Prep
In a regular work environment, it is a very good idea to prep your meals in advance. This helps you to gain time. When you work from home though, do not prep meals whenever you feel that you are getting too stressed.
Resist that urge to grab a salad or an already-made dish to eat in front of the computer, as you keep working of course.
The best thing you can do is to take an actual lunch break. Spend that time to cook and choose a nourishing meal. When you do something so unrelated from work, like cutting meat or vegetables, it is almost as effective as meditation. Your mind leaves work and you allow yourself a much-needed break.
Sure. Some people do not like cooking. If this is you, there are still things you can do. For instance, you can boil some pasta or an egg. This only takes around 10 minutes and it is more than enough to destress yourself.
Socialize With Your Colleagues Outside Work Hours
One of the things most people miss when they work from home is socializing. If you are isolated, you feel lonely. The situation becomes worse because you cannot brainstorm projects in group settings and cannot laugh with your coworkers.
A great way to get some socializing with your teammates is to simply give them a call or set up Slack channels. Never underestimate the importance of such communication outside work hours. It will reduce stress and even indirectly make you more productive.
I hope some of the suggestions above will help you and there are surely many others that you are already aware of, like maybe turning off technology. The point is always to try different options. You never know what works for you.
Do not underestimate how stress destroys your mental at home. And do not let it reach the point at which it is a problem. Take proactive actions now.