When the COVID-19 pandemic started, many people experienced a significant change in their work environment. There were numerous people who had to start working from home on a daily basis. This sudden shift caused a lot of difficulties for someone who is not used to working from home.
Not only would they worry about being productive while working at home, but they also needed to remember how to enjoy life during quarantine. It can be hard to adapt to such a quick and unprecedented shift that it can also take a toll on one’s mental health.
It’s important to take care of your mental health all the time, but the pandemic has made it tougher to do so because of various factors such as the lack of social interaction and the changes in employment/work and/or school. Fortunately, here are tips and techniques that can help you maintain a happy and productive life as you work from home.
Meditating can help a lot in terms of mental health as it can help to reduce stress and anxiety, it helps to increase your focus, and overall give you time to relax. For these reasons, it’d be good to set meditation as one of the things you do first when you wake up in the morning or even do it throughout the day. Most people would probably be familiar with the mantra meditation in which you would repeatedly chant “om/aum”, but it doesn’t have to specifically be that chant, it can be any calming phrase. There are also many other ways to meditate, you just need a comfy position and a quiet setting. If you’re new to meditation try out a guided meditation on YouTube. Another advantage of meditation is that there is no set time for it, you can meditate for 5 minutes to up to an hour, it’s all up to you.
Engaging in some form of physical activity helps you to energize, and also gives a sort of mental boost. You should always incorporate at least one physical activity in your daily life. Exercising is one way that you can meet your physical activity quota so take advantage of the many gyms that offer online classes. Doing yoga or simply taking a walk outside for a few minutes will also suffice. It should be an activity that suits your preferences and your needs, so don’t worry about purchasing exercise equipment if that isn’t what you want to do. Just make sure you are keeping your body healthy and active.
As quarantine got extended for most people, they found themselves getting bored and became unsure of what to do while being confined to their homes. Now, although quarantine is still in effect, it would seem that some people have figured out what to do in the form of hobbies. Hobbies encourage you to do something productive instead of lying around all day. It is the perfect opportunity to pick up a new hobby or re-discover one that you might’ve had a long time ago but gave up. Bake some bread, learn how to dance, read a book series, do some gardening; there are so many possibilities when it comes to hobbies. If you’d like to be taught something new try online classes with Masterclass or Skillshare.
One of the complications that COVID-19 caused is the necessary social distancing from our loved ones. If you don’t live with family or friends, or one or the other, it has probably become very tough to deal with not seeing them in person for a long while. Humans are social beings and interaction with others helps us emotionally. Being face-to-face would be ideal but since we can’t do that right now an alternative would be to connect with friends and family through online measures. Thanks to technological advancements, you can connect with your loved ones through Facetime, Zoom, Skype, or other communication tools. Set up a game night, a movie night (Netflix party, Disney party), or just a general chatting time to help you keep in contact with the people that you love. Make sure to check up on them and see how they are doing.
Since the pandemic started, many important daily activities were shifted online such as school and work. Almost everyone has to do their work online, and thus spends a lot of time in front of a screen. Spending much of your time like that can strain your eyes and can also exhaust you. It is important to make sure that you take breaks from on-screen activities when you can. This also applies to balancing the time you spend on social media. Many people use social media as a source of information about developments of the pandemic. However, overusing social media in this way can lead you to feel more anxious and distressed. Social media also shows us how other people spend their time in quarantine and as a result, it may make you feel the need to compare yourself to how others do it. Just focus on what you have done and want to achieve instead of feeling like you need to compete with others.
Working from home does seem fun at first with the flexible hours and the avoidance of the morning hustle to get to your workplace and dropping the kids off to school, but it soon becomes another chore to do when you lose the structure provided by a routine. Since you would be working at home, you’d take advantage of it by working in your pyjamas or sleeping in, but these things can cause you to lose a daily routine. A lack of routine could lead you to have less motivation to do things because it’s supposed to help in focusing on other tasks and keeps your life structured. Routines also help if you have kids as they like predictability in life. Create a routine that you can stick to but will challenge you, here are some suggestions: commit to waking up at a certain time, do stretches throughout the day, get dressed (no pyjamas!), make a cup of coffee or tea for yourself, implement a skincare routine, don’t look at your phone until after breakfast, etc.
Start your day by sitting down and making a list of what you want to accomplish for the day and ideally, for the week. You can start out by scheduling daily activities before incorporating a full list for the week. Write it down however you want either in your notes on your computer/phone or writing it down by hand, just make sure that it is placed where you are able to see it repeatedly. This will remind you of what you want and need to accomplish throughout the day and the week. When it comes to creating a schedule, keep in mind the tasks that you need to prioritize, the breaks that you need to give yourself, and when you want to have everything done by. Make sure to set goals that are SMART. By creating a list/schedule with set goals, you can feel more motivated to do the tasks that you need to do and can give you a sense of control, it can also keep track of your workload.
Although working from home can mess with your routine a bit, it gives you the opportunity to create a personalized and comfortable office space. Many people struggle with the lack of physical separation from work and home, by taking the time to set up a definitive work space you can tackle this problem. If you live alone, this will be easy as you can pick any space in your home. However, if you live with other people, picking a spot will be harder. In any way, it’s important to keep in mind that your own bedroom might not be the best choice as it will compel you to ‘wind down’ more than you could afford to. In general, choose a spot that is quiet and gives you enough comfortable space to work with, and you might also want to consider a spot that gives you good internet connection. Remember to choose a spot based on your need. If you live with other people, let them know that it is your work space and remind them not to disturb you unless absolutely necessary.
This may seem more of a chore rather than a tip, but decluttering your space can help reduce stress and distractions so try not to think of it in that way. It makes sense as you would not be constantly worrying about the mess that’s lying around somewhere and would help you stay organized and clean. By decluttering your space, you can focus more on your workload instead. Organize your work space so that you can easily access the things you need when you do your daily tasks. Keep your computer and notes up to this standard too by organizing your notes in their respective files/folders or having them altogether through management apps like OneNote or Notion. Make sure that you consistently organize your work so that you can perform tasks more efficiently.
Depending on the type of person you are, taking breaks may be too easy or very hard. If it’s too easy for you to take a break that means you aren’t being productive enough and you are constantly ‘taking breaks’ when you get distracted. If it’s very hard for you then you struggle with setting a time for yourself to take one. Resting for too long and working for too long will both cause a lack of motivation. So not only is it important to set time for breaks, but it should also be noted that you need to plan the breaks according to how much time you work so that you’re not just constantly taking breaks. You could just schedule your breaks and try your best to stick to them, but if you want a more solid routine, I suggest the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a time management method that sets intervals of work periods followed by short break periods; the more tasks you complete, the longer your breaks will get. There are even apps for this technique.
There was a lot of uneasiness because of the uncertainty of what was going to happen due to the sudden shift brought by th COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, despite these times of anxiousness, it is important to remind ourselves of the ways in which we can take care of our mental and physical well-being. By doing so, we can work more productively and efficiently in our own homes.
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