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We Work Remotely | How To Keep Your Mental Health in Check When You Work From Home

Symptoms of Depression

  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even with unimportant matters.
  • Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy for even the smallest activities.
  • Increased cravings for food.
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Avoiding people.

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We Work Remotely | How To Keep Your Mental Health in Check When You Work From Home

We Work Remotely | How To Keep Your Mental Health in Check When You Work From Home

https://weworkremotely.com/how-to-keep-your-mental-health-in-check-when-you-work-from-home

weworkremotely.com

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Key Ideas

Psychological Effects of Working from Home

  • Loneliness and isolation. And loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms like random pain.
  • Anxiety and pressure. The boundary between work and home life is not very clear. And switching between different roles and skills during the day will wear you out.
  • Depression. Besides the anxiety and loneliness that may lead to depression, sometimes work from home can make you feel stuck, like you are not achieving as much as the others.

Symptoms of Depression

  • Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration, even with unimportant matters.
  • Loss of interest or happiness in activities such as sex or hobbies.
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and sleeping too much.
  • Tiredness and lack of energy for even the smallest activities.
  • Increased cravings for food.
  • Anxiety, agitation, and restlessness.
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
  • Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches
  • Avoiding people.

Take Care of Your Mental Health

...while working from home:

  • Create a schedule and stick to it. Scheduling your tasks (and breaks) will help you to mentally prepare for the day.
  • Have a dedicated comfortable workspace, with a door that closes, preferably.
  • Fight the urge to stay sedentary and schedule active time to get your heart pumping.
  • Foster social connections (on the phone or via the internet, if physical contact is not possible).
  • Learn to say no. Know your limitations, set boundaries based on your schedule and workload, and don’t extend yourself beyond them.

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A Healthy Balance

Remote working may have tremendous advantages but research suggests that human beings aren’t meant to work in isolation. Working socially with co-workers who are good friends leads to higher engagement and satisfaction in one’s job.

For remote working to be successful, it needs to be tailored to suit one’s particular needs and personality, finding a good fit, while taking care of one’s mental well-being.

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Start Early and Mimic Office Time

The schedule that makes you start early, and mimic the office hours works best, as you end up being free earlier too. However, night owls may find working at night to be more productive or comfortable for them.

Maintaining a schedule in a routine, while incorporating regular exercise with it, works best.

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Pitfalls of working from home: 

  • Mental health disorders like anxiety, stress, and depression
  • Feeling isolated
  • Less self-discipline
  • Lack of exercise
  • Unable to keep the boundaries between work and life.

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Clear communication

The key to working from home is clear communication with your boss. Your manager might not be used to managing people virtually or may not have a ready-to-go suite of tools for remote workers.

To prevent a breakdown in communication, you need to know exactly what's expected of you from day-to-day. Ask your boss for a 10-minute video call to start and end the day. Reach out to coworkers and managers regularly so that you won't get forgotten.

Treat it like a real job
  • Don't lounge around in your pajamas. Treat it like a real job.
  • Create a space exclusively for work that is removed from distractions, just like you would at your office desk.
  • Create boundaries within your home that your family members understand when you're 'at work.'
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Identify your triggers
Identify your triggers

When you identify what's causing you stress, it becomes much easier to manage it:

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Assess what you can change

When you recognize your external triggers, you can figure out what changes you can make to manage them.

  • If having too many Zoom meetings is draining your energy, see if you can make your meetings shorter, or assess when and where you presence is not critically needed.
  • If you’re stretched too thin and have the power to do so, you can think about delegating, or ask your boss what you should prioritize and what you can complete later.
Asking for professional help

Sometimes eliminating external stressors just isn't enough. When you find yourself in a prolonged state of stress, it’s time to get the help of a professional.

Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your quality of life and can also make physical health issues worse.

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  • Many employees would want to get back to offices as soon as possible due to social and mental issues, like the feeling of loneliness at home.
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Common Challenges of Remote Work

Even high-performing employees can face a decline in job performance and engagement when working remotely. This can be due to:

  • Lack of face-to-face supervision, which leads to a two-way communication gap and even mistrust.
  • There is a delay in the procurement of information as remote workers aren’t able to sense the atmosphere and real-time events at the workplace, leading to a lack of ‘mutual knowledge’.
  • A sense of isolation among remote workers, leading to a feeling of less belongingness within the organization.
  • Distractions at home due to unplanned work-from-home transition, with employees balancing childcare and many other responsibilities along with work.
Improving Engagement And Productivity

A few specific, research-backed steps that can be taken to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees:

  • Establishing Structured Daily check-ins, by establishing a daily call or touchpoint.
  • Providing several different communication technology options, using virtual communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams etc., and making use of video conferencing.
  • Establishing clear rules of engagement for communicating with the coworkers or the managers, according to the levels of urgency.
  • Providing opportunities for remote social interaction by talking about non-work activities, thereby reducing the feeling of isolation among remote workers.
  • Offering encouragement and emotional support by listening to the workers, acknowledging their stress, and keeping their needs and issues in focus.
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Just after WW2, there was a rise in corporate headquarters and larger office spaces and cubicles. During this time, the 8-hour workday was established.

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Remote work is common

4.3 million people currently work from home in the United States at least half of the time, and this figure has grown by 150% in the last 13 years.  

Remote workers tend to have higher engagement rates and higher productivity levels. Once they switch to remote work, they rarely want to become office bound again.

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Unintended consequences
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Schedule “movement breaks” 

Set a timer once an hour to remind you to move. Get up and move your body, walk up and down the stairs, or take a brisk loop around the block.

The movement needs to be reasonably active and needs to get you out of breath. Afterward, you will feel more productive.

Find an activity you love

Most people can find an activity that they enjoy. It could be walking the dog, doing pilates, or playing in the garden.

Find the activity you like and get value from and do that.

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Flexibility with remote work
Flexibility with remote work

Usually, working from home is about flexibility. Every single person will have a different schedule, which will make them more productive.

Early risers and night owls
  • Early risers may work from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., take a break to get kids sorted for school, then start work again at 8:30 a.m and be finished by 2:30 p.m.
  • Some may sleep in and only start working around 10 a.m. They may stop at 3 p.m. and work again between 10 p.m and 1 a.m. when the house is quiet.

It's not always a matter of early versus late. Some people work longer hours on some days to give themselves a break on other days. It's all a matter of fitting work into your lifestyle and when you're most productive.

Batching for productivity

Batching is a common productivity strategy - group similar tasks together so your brain doesn't tire with too much context switching.

For example, to break your day into three-to four-hour work sessions with two- to three-hour breaks or naps in between. That way, you can focus on specific tasks during each session.

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