10 Brilliant Ways to Boost Mental Health While Working From Home, Remote

10 Brilliant Ways to Boost Mental Health While Working From Home, Remote

10 Brilliant Ways to Boost Mental Health While Working From Home, Remote

Working from home has become more commonplace in recent years, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many companies to implement remote work policies. 

While working from home has its perks like flexibility and no commute, it can also negatively impact mental health without proper boundaries and self-care. Here are some evidence-based ways to boost mental health while working remotely. 

Maintain a Morning Routine 

Starting the workday with intention can set you up for success. Having a consistent morning routine helps you mentally transition from home to work mode and feel more productive [1]

Try waking up at the same time each day, making your bed, exercising, showering, getting dressed, and eating a nutritious breakfast. Ritualizing these morning habits separates work from leisure time and boosts motivation. 

Research shows that morning routines reduce anxiety and stress throughout the day by activating the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for focus and impulse control [2]

The prefrontal cortex functions better after a good night's sleep and morning routine. Beginning each workday this way provides structure amid the flexibility of remote work. 

Woman work from home, using laptop and desktop for teleconference with her teamates in the nature 

Working in bed or on the couch makes it harder to be productive. Set up an ergonomic workspace with a desk, chair, and computer monitor [3]. Make sure it has good lighting and minimal distractions. Decorate it with office supplies, calendars, and inspirational quotes to feel motivated. 

Only use this workspace for work. Resist temptations to work in other areas of your home. This associates your workspace with “work mode” and the rest of your home with “relaxation mode” [4]

It’s easier to mentally detach from work at the end of the day. Keeping work confined to a single physical space also reduces digital distractions from TV, pets, etc.

Set a Schedule 

When you worked in an office, your days likely had a built-in structure. To prevent days from blurring together at home, map out a schedule. Include set working hours along with breaks for exercise, lunch, errands, etc. This provides order amid potential chaos [5]

Fixed schedules simulate the rhythm of in-office work. They also give you time to fully disengage. Without set hours, you may feel pressured to work constantly or be “always on.” 

Schedules allow you to focus intently during work hours and detach completely after. Sticking to a routine makes days feel more satisfying. 

Take Regular Breaks 

It’s easy to get sucked into work non-stop when the office is just footsteps away. But taking regular breaks is essential for mental functioning. 

Studies reveal that taking short breaks during work helps you refocus and improves productivity [6]. Breaks also give your mind needed rest from constant concentration. 

When designing your remote schedule, be sure to build in a 15-20 minute break every two hours. During these breaks do an activity completely unrelated to work - stretch, meditate, make a snack, go outside, etc. 

Stepping away provides mental clarity and energy to dive back into work fully recharged. 

Avoid Multitasking 

Juggling multiple tasks seems efficient but research shows it’s counterproductive. Multitasking lowers IQ, increases mistakes and stress, and reduces concentration [7]

Remote work often comes with more potential distractions and the temptation to multitask. 

Instead, focus on one task completely from start to finish. Then move to the next task. Give your full attention and don’t allow yourself to be interrupted by emails, calls, pings, etc. 

Single-tasking leads to greater productivity and less burnout. It may feel slower at first but you’ll accomplish more in higher quality. 

How to recognize and avoid burnout when working from Home, Remote.

 

Incorporate Physical Activity

Lack of movement when working from home negatively impacts both physical and mental health. Make sure to incorporate exercise into each workday. Take walks around your neighborhood during breaks, use lunch to hit the gym, follow home workout videos, etc. 

Exercising helps relieve muscle tension from sitting all day. It also stimulates the release of endorphins, chemicals that elevate mood and reduce stress [8]

Higher energy and optimism carry over to make you more engaged and productive with work. Prioritizing daily activity keeps your mind and body nourished. 

Maintain Human Connection 

Working remotely can feel isolating without daily social interaction. Make an effort to regularly connect with co-workers, family, and friends. 

Schedule video calls to catch up and collaborate. Attend virtual hangouts and meetings. Use digital tools like messaging and social media to stay connected. 

Meaningful human connection has proven benefits for mental health like lower rates of anxiety and depression [9]

It satisfies the fundamental human need to be seen, heard, and validated. Staying socially engaged while working remotely combats loneliness and isolation. 

Limit News Consumption 

Today’s 24/7 news cycle delivers a non-stop influx of stressful and negative stories. When working from home, it’s tempting to constantly check the news as a distraction. 

But research shows that excessive news consumption heightens anxiety, fear, and hopelessness [10]

Limit yourself to checking the news just once or twice a day. Avoid having it on continuously as background noise. 

Be mindful of how you feel after consuming the news - if you feel more anxious or depressed, cut back even more. Stay informed but prioritize your mental wellbeing. 

Ways to work remotely

Let In Natural Light

Sunlight exposure is vital for regulating circadian rhythms, mood, and sleep quality [11]. When working remotely, you likely spend less time outdoors. Ensure your workspace has access to plenty of natural light. Open blinds and sit near windows when possible. 

If your workspace is darker, consider investing in a light therapy lamp. Mimicking the effects of sunlight, it boosts energy and focus while alleviating seasonal depression. Maximize light exposure to keep your mind sharp and uplifted. 

Unplug Outside Work Hours 

Without a commute home, work can easily bleed into evenings and weekends. But rest and detachment are crucial for avoiding burnout. Give your mind a complete break by unplugging after work hours. 

Turn off notifications on your devices and put them in another room. Designate evenings and weekends as work-free time for leisure, family, hobbies, etc. Disconnecting prevents work-related stress from carrying over and gives you something positive to look forward to each day.

 

Conclusion 

Working from home allows greater flexibility but also presents mental health risks like isolation, lack of structure, reduced activity, and barriers to fully unplugging[12]. Implementing healthy routines, habits, and boundaries can minimize these risks. 

Boost your well-being while working remotely by maintaining a morning routine, designating a workspace, setting a schedule, taking breaks, avoiding multitasking, exercising, interacting socially, limiting news intake, and unplugging at the end of each workday. 

With intention and self-care, remote work can be fulfilling without sacrificing mental health.

Sources

[1] Hirotsu, Camila et al. “Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions.” Sleep science (Sao Paulo, Brazil) vol. 8,3 (2015): 143-52. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002 

[2] James Clear, Atomic Habits, Penguin Publishing Group, 2018. 

[3] Oakman, Jodi et al. “Strategies to manage working from home during the pandemic: the employee experience.” Industrial health vol. 60,4 (2022): 319-333. 

doi:10.2486/indhealth.2022-0042

[4] Christina Maslach and Michael P. Leiter, The Truth About Burnout: How Organizations Cause Personal Stress and What to Do About It. Jossey-Bass, 1997. 

[5] William James, The Principles of Psychology, Read Books Ltd, 2013. 

[6] Jory MacKay, 7 Science-Backed Ways to Take Better Breaks. Zapier Blog. https://zapier.com/blog/better-breaks/ 

[7] David Rock, Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long, HarperBusiness, 2009. 

[8] David A. Raichlen, Gene E. Alexander, Why Your Brain Needs Exercise. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-your-brain-needs-exercise/ 

[9] Julianne Holt-Lunstad, The Potential Public Health Relevance of Social Isolation and Loneliness: Prevalence, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors, Public Policy & Aging Report, Volume 27, Issue 4, 2017, Pages 127–130. https://doi.org/10.1093/ppar/prx030 

[10] Anto, Ailin et al. “Exploring the Impact of Social Media on Anxiety Among University Students in the United Kingdom: Qualitative Study.” JMIR formative research vol. 7 e43037. 16 Jun. 2023, doi:10.2196/43037 

[11] Kalampokas, Theodoros et al. “The Current Evidence Regarding COVID-19 and Pregnancy: Where Are We Now and Where Should We Head to Next?.” Viruses vol. 13,10 2000. 5 Oct. 2021, doi:10.3390/v13102000 

[12] Kearns, Ade et al. “Loneliness, social relations and health and well-being in deprived communities.” Psychology, health & medicine vol. 20,3 (2015): 332-44. 

doi:10.1080/13548506.2014.940354

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