Eighteen months ago, how many of us could have predicted that home-working would become the norm? Back then, it was the province of the chosen few; a ‘perk’ that only the most trusted (or senior) of employees was free to enjoy. But in a post-Covid world, if anyone can work from home, they mostly are.
Which is great news, right? We finally have the freedom of flexibility; the power to balance our own working lives; the chance of an extra hour in bed because we’re no longer tied to a lengthy commute. So why are so many of us struggling?
Because working from home is new; at least in its current guise. The line between home and work is blurrier than it’s ever been, and we need to figure out a few ground rules before we can make the new working set-up, work for us.
A six-pillar approach to wellbeing at home
How do you stay healthy when you’re working from home? How do you look after your mental health when you’re isolated? How do you keep camaraderie alive when you’re no longer surrounded by countless colleagues? You prioritise your wellbeing with some intentional practices.
Anyone familiar with BetterSpace knows that we champion a six-pillar approach to wellbeing, and it’s a concept that carries just as much clout when you apply it to your home-working set-up.
So here are our six top tips for looking after your wellbeing when you’re working from home:
1. Stress Management
Working from home means being surrounded by home comforts (yey), but also distractions (boo). You might have your kids at home through the holidays, a yappy dog just itching for a walk, or your other half conducting business from the next room. When you can’t concentrate on work, stress levels inevitably soar – which is why it’s important to create your own calm.
If working from home is your new normal, you’re going to need a home office; or at least, a desk that’s all yours. Try to keep it clear from clutter, as mess will only bring you stress. Scent has a big part to play in stress management, so try burning a scented candle, lighting some incense, or popping an essential oil into a diffuser. Classical music can also help to lower stress levels; or if classical isn’t for you, relaxing soundscapes can take your mind to a really tranquil place.
It’s no secret that a lot of us overindulged during lockdown; sometimes, comfort food is what you need to get you through a tough time. But now that lockdown is over, it’s time we started fuelling our bodies with the best food and nutrients out there.
Why does this matter so much when you’re working from home? Because the cupboards are always within easy reach – and if you’re snacking on sugary foods, your blood sugars will be all over the place. That means trouble concentrating, lethargy, and more hunger. Not an ideal mix for a productive day. So fill your fridge with fruits and veggies, your cupboards with nuts and seeds, and your plate with a healthy mix of protein, fibre, and fats.
During the first lockdown, we lived for our daily half-hour – but how many of us maintained the routine? Working from home means we typically spend more time being sedentary. Not having to walk to the train station, run between bus stops, or pop into that after-work exercise class means a lot of us are less active than we were.
If you want home-working to be healthy, it’s absolutely vital to work exercise into your weekly routine. Whether you take the dog for an extra walk, sign up for some online classes, or head back to the gym, staying active will really improve your mental wellbeing.
One of the hardest things about working from home is the feeling of isolation. When you’re in the office, surrounded by colleagues, you benefit from the social buzz. If you’re lucky, your team becomes like a second family, and it can be difficult to adapt to working alone.
You know well enough by now that Zoom quizzes and video calls can help to keep you connected to your colleagues, but don’t overlook the importance of informal check-ins. Grabbing a virtual coffee together, where you’re allowed to talk about anything other than work, keeps that sense of community and friendship alive.
5. Meaningful Activity
Having a sense of purpose beyond our job role is essential for wellbeing – and with our personal and professional lives melding into one big home-working, home-living mixing pot, finding meaning beyond work matters more than ever.
If you’re not sure what ‘meaningful activity’ looks like for you, think about what you value, and what you enjoy. You might find meaning in volunteering your time for a local charity; your purpose might be discovered in setting up a book club; or you might choose to devote your free time to learning a new language.
If the stress of the past 18 months has been messing with your sleep routine, it’s time to take back control. When we’re not sleeping properly, it’s incredibly hard to function throughout the day. The trouble is, when we know we don’t have to get up at dawn for an early-morning commute, it’s really tempting to stay up late.
To make sure you’re full of energy for your home-working day, set your bedtime at least eight hours before you need to be up. If you struggle settling at night, try spritzing some pillow mist, listen to a guided meditation, and write down everything you need to do the next day, so your mind can let go and rest.
Our whole employee wellbeing platform is built on the six-pillar methodology because these are the lifestyle factors that have the most profound effect on our mental health. Get them right, and you have the best possible chance of staying happy and healthy when working from home.
To find out more about the BetterSpace philosophy, get in touch or book a free demo.
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