Once upon a time, most people dreamed of work from home jobs. The idea of working in your pajamas, sitting on the couch, and being wrapped up in your favorite blanket seemed so appealing to most.  Due to COVID-19, working from home has become a necessity for a lot of people, not a position that was accepted leisurely. This has led to a great deal of stress and anxiety. 

One day you’re in the office, and the next day you are at home setting up a workspace while scrambling to be productive. Your meetings are completely virtual, so you must use Google Hangouts or Zoom to have important conversations with peers and leadership. And trust me, there are a thousand tech issues that can happen on these calls. If you have kids and/or pets, you have to balance time and attention between caretaking and work.

And here’s the big one, on top of all of that, add on being concerned about company layoffs due to the current economic downturn. I don’t think this is how any of us imagined working from home. 

A recent survey promoted to discover what causes Americans the most Anxiety, “What Gives Americans Anxiety During COVID-19” dives into how people are handling anxiety brought on by COVID-19 on a daily basis. People were asked questions such as “What is the biggest source of their anxiety before and after COVID-19?” and “Are you working from home?”. Results show that work was the biggest source of anxiety before and after COVID-19. In fact, nearly 1 in 4 Millennials reported that the economic situation has caused them more stress than the fear of getting sick. Other factors such as family, physical health, and politics fell closely behind. In terms of working from home, Millennials and Gen X are the most likely generations to work from home, while Baby Boomers are most likely to be unable to work in the current situation. Factors such as not having the technical equipment, internet, or privacy to work from home have left many people unable to work from home or they’re struggling to do so effectively. 

However, many of us are in this situation until further notice, whether we like it or not. So, how can you make the best of your work from home experience and minimize anxiety? Here are a few ways you can suppress those anxiety levels and embark on a healthy work-life balance. 

  • Set boundaries: You must create structure around your personal and professional life. It’s easy to blur the lines between your productivity and leisure time. You can either have too much leisure or too much work, and neither of these is good. 
  • Develop a schedule: You must create a consistent schedule around your work hours. For example, if you work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., those are your start and end times. Don’t push yourself to work any earlier or any later, if you can help it. Take a lunch break halfway through your workday. Schedule mini-breaks throughout the day to take a step back and breather. Use this time to interact with your family, spouse, pets, etc. You can also go for a quick walk. 
  • Block out distractions: Does your spouse think working from home is free time for you guys to hang out? Do your kids think it’s a free for all play session all day? Sometimes others don’t understand that working from home is still work. This can lead to unnecessary distractions that prevent you from completing work. However, you must let people know that during work hours you need actual hours of uninterrupted focus. “Sorry, I’m working right now, call you later.” or “Honey, I’m working right now, and I need to focus.” are nice ways to tell your loved ones and friends “Leave me alone!”. You can also take other steps like only using your phone during breaks, using headphones, and going to a secluded space. 

Working from home can be rewarding and actually reduce stress if it is handled properly. In order to reduce anxiety surrounding your job and put your best foot forward, set boundaries, develop a schedule, and block out distractions. Remember, you got this!