How to Spot & Manage Stress While Working From Home

Working From Home

With the speed of COVID-19 forcing business & workers to drastically change how we interact, many workers found themselves working from home in a haste just to keep their jobs and/or businesses open.  As a few pandemic restrictions have been relaxed, some workers have now returned back to the office, but many are still working from home with the outlook of a long term or even permanent scenario.

Working from home certainly has it’s advantages.  More freedom allows time to connect with family members in the house, attend to personal appointments and to dress more casually that you might otherwise need to in an office environment.  No costs for commuting and no travel time means you might be able to relish in a few extra minutes of sleep each morning.  Also, if you made a regular habit of going out for lunch, you will save money, time and maybe even some calories by eating your lunch at home.  Not to mention, no need to deal with any in-office gossip & politics while working from home either.

While all of these points sound positive, there can be a downside to working from home.  And it’s important to be aware of how you can be affected so that you can take steps to manage any stress that might creep in before it becomes overwhelming.

No Set Routine or Schedule

It might be tempting to think of no schedule as a benefit, but it can actually work against you.  Set yourself up for success by establishing a time that you start work, eat lunch, take breaks and quit for the day.  In a home environment it can be all too easy to sleep in, skip meals, sit for hours staring at a screen and work well into the evening without noticing how these habits affect your productivity and well being.  Our bodies thrive on similar, day-to-day practices, so keeping a schedule of your daily routine is an easy way to stay on task and keeping your health in check at the same time.

No Dedicated Work Space/Area

If at all possible, create a dedicated space for working in your home.  Ensure you have a comfortable seat/chair and that everything you need is close at hand.  This sets the tone for work and allows you to “leave” the work area so that you can take breaks.  if you’re lucky enough to dedicate a full room with a door as your office, even better as you can shut out any distractions from the rest of the house.

Distractions & No Boundaries

Creating structure to ensure that you allow ample time for being productive as well as to relax & have leisure time is important when working from home.  At home, kids, partners, roommates, pets and unexpected interruptions demanding your time will inevitably come up.  Even checking email, phone notifications and regularly scrolling social media can add up to a large amount of unproductive time.  Allowing these disruptions to steal your attention randomly throughout your day can wreak havoc on your ability to focus and ultimately breeds stress.  Setting boundaries for yourself as well as with others will help you allocate your time so you can be productive & fully engaged in each activity.

Lack of Focus & Motivation

A great way to stay energized, focused and motivated is physical activity.  Daily exercise keeps focus clear and energy up which in turn help us stay motivated.  And when you’re motivated, the happier and more productive you become.  Another approach to foster motivation is to hold yourself accountable and reward yourself on a regular basis.  Divide large tasks into smaller achievable outcomes that you can celebrate once you’ve reached them.  When you get a taste of regular accomplishment, you’ll stay motivated to keep the momentum going and strive even higher.

Limited Connection With Others/Social Isolation

It may have sounded good initially to be able to work from home with no other coworkers to distract or take up your time with gossip and chit-chat.  However being detached from other people for long periods of time can turn into a deep sense of loneliness and a yearning for human contact and connection.  Combat this feeling of isolation by arranging regular video calls with friends and coworkers.  And remember to talk about topics other than work to keep that sense of social & community connection

No Sense of Gratitude

During a global health crisis, soaring unemployment rates and economic uncertainty, it’s easy to forget what we can be grateful for if we are not mindful about our circumstances.  Be grateful you have a job to do and a place where you can do the job from.  Remind yourself about what you’ve accomplished and your purpose.  Having these things in mind can reduce stress and elevate your mood and emotional well being.

Hang in there.  Working from home can be frustrating, but watching for potential stressors and having the tools & a plan to manage them can make working from home a productive, satisfying and even   enjoyable experience.