Recent studies led by the University of Glasgow have shown that lockdown had a big impact on mental health in the UK, including an increase in rates of suicidal thoughts. During the first national lockdown, a lot of people were assigned to work from home in order to stay safe and to avoid spreading the virus. This has meant that our safe havens (our homes) have also become our offices.
In normal circumstances you would have had the option to go home after a long stressful day at work and had some relaxation time…… however, at the moment the days seem to merge with time, and it can be difficult to separate between work and home time.
As we are almost a year into COVID restrictions and most of us have been working from home, I thought I should share some of the things that I have been actively doing throughout the year to make sure that I am taking care of my mental health whilst working from home during this time.
- Planning my day (Stick to a schedule)
Planning my day helps me separate my working time and my personal time. It was so easy to be consumed with work and not realise that I hadn’t taken my lunch break or had time for myself. I decided to plan my day and stick to a schedule that allowed me to have my breaks and time away from my work laptop and this really helped.
- Set up a working space
At the beginning of lockdown no one was really sure of what was going on. As time passed, home offices started to become increasingly popular. Last year taught me that you don’t need a big house to have a home office. You can create an office space anywhere in your home for example working in your kitchen, bedroom and lounge. Some people have even transformed their storage rooms into offices! As long as you are comfortable whilst you are working, that’s all that matters.
- Taking regular breaks away from my work laptop
Taking regular short breaks has helped me focus more than I did previously. It’s easy to get consumed with work especially when having deadlines, however having a clear mind is better than working while stressed.
- Taking walks during my lunch break
As well as taking regular breaks from work, I found that going outside for a walk during my lunch break has helped me become more productive. It also helps break up the day. Going outside and seeing different people (even without socialising) is vital especially during this time when we spend the majority of the time in our homes.
- Keeping in touch with colleagues
Taking part in team quizzes and attending virtual coffee breaks is always a good way to catch up with colleagues. I always feel great after team quizzes as this is an opportunity for me to socialise with different people. It also gives me another chance to get away from the daily work routine.
- Being kind to myself
Sometimes it’s easy being hard on yourself. It is important to remember that we are all in a global pandemic. This is something most of us have never dealt with before. Make sure you take care of yourself not only physically but mentally too. If you are struggling, please talk to a loved one, friend or you can use the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mental-health-helplines/ . You can also use this website if you are concerned about your loved ones too. Always remember to be kind to yourself and to others and please feel free to add any other recommendations in the comments section.