As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working has become more and more widespread. According to Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work survey, at the beginning of this year, 62 percent of full-time employees in US worked remotely to some degree. By now, more than 65 percent are mostly working from home. And the already fragile work-life balance is once again under great pressure. Therefore, avoiding burnout and caring for the mental health of their employees have become paramount for companies from all over the world.
On this blog, we mainly write articles to help service providers enable their customers to streamline their business processes. This time, we changed the focus a bit. The purpose of this article is to present some strategies to avoid burnout at work. Because we strongly believe anyone can improve the current work-life imbalance.
The world we used to know
For most people, home was the place where they went to disconnect from all the struggles they’ve been facing during the working day. It was a safe place for rest, joy, and relaxation where they would spend time with their loved ones and get involved in (mostly) pleasant activities. Working at home meant washing the dishes, vacuuming the carpet, or fixing stuff in the garage.
However, during the past few months, everything has changed. With the lockdown measures implemented all over the world, the office became inaccessible and home became the new office. Many employees found themselves in the position of having to do their job with only a laptop, on the kitchen table.
Social distancing, isolation, the constant threat of getting infected with Coronavirus, economic fallout, unemployment, the individual and collective trauma of the COVID-19 disease have all taken their toll on our mental health. Many of us are experiencing anxiety, stress, loss of meaning, and depression.
Proven tips and tricks
The second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic is upon us and new lockdown measures are slowly sliding in. And we all need some ideas to take care of our mental health while working from home during these difficult times. Here are five proven strategies.
1. Organize your workspace
First, we should reiterate the importance of having an organized home workspace. This is not only a matter of comfort and productivity but also affects your stress and anxiety levels.
Placing your desk in a sunny area with lots of natural light will help your body increase its deposits of vitamin D, while also stimulating the production of serotonin inside your brain. Both these substances are directly responsible for depression – more exactly, the higher your levels, the more likely you will avoid it. And the Sun is your best provider.
2. Set boundaries
Ending a workday at the office used to be marked by different social and physical routines that signaled crossing the boundary between work and home, like:
- commuting from the office to your house
- changing your clothes
- taking a shower
All these were indicators that marked the ending of work time and the beginning of personal time.
While working from home, almost all of those social indicators get blurred or disappear altogether. It makes it hard to set a clear boundary between work time and free time. If you don’t set some boundaries, soon you may end up feeling like you’re supposed to be available for work at any time. Having your work and personal life intertwine to that point is a sure way to burnout.
Avoid that by finding some boundary-crossing activities you can perform as a routine, to have a clear delimitation between work and home. It can be anything from having separate clothes for work hours and changing into PJs once you’re done working, going out for a short walk, or simply having dinner. Try to maintain that routine every single day, just as you used to do back in the good old office days.
3. Relax during breaks
Breaks feel a bit different now too, without colleagues to chat with and the constant rumor and energy of the office. However, we still need breaks and time to relax and take our mind off of work and the pandemic with all its anxiety-inducing aspects. Breaks should be about relaxation, so it would be really nice to have some gadgets that could bring positive vibes.
Get a VR set and take a walk across the Grand Canyon, or just walk on a virtual beach. If that’s out of your reach, you can always play a game – be it on Xbox, The Switch, on PC, or even on your phone. All these activities are great ways to disconnect and help your brain rewire in a short time span.
However, if you are not so much into the virtual, you can always try classic methods of relaxation. Essential oils are supposed to lift your mood and make you feel good. So, an ultrasonic aroma diffuser or a portable essential oil diffuser that connects to your computer’s USB port is the perfect choice when it comes to a relaxing break.
For even more relaxation and a nice ambiance, create a playlist with calming music to carry you away from all your worries.
4. Secret ingredients: naps
Working from the comfort of your home has among its hidden benefits the ability to nap. You could not really do that at the office, right?
A 20-30 minute power nap during lunch break will help you reset and boost your productivity and prevent burnout. You have plenty of choices in terms of comfort, from your own bed, or the couch, to even creating a designated cozy nap space with a comfortable chair ideal for naps but not for long periods of sleep.
5. Keep in touch with your team
While working from home it’s easy to become so involved in your small bubble that you start forgetting there is actually life still going on out there. This is particularly valid for those who self-isolate trying to avoid the virus. Losing track of the bigger picture can be very harmful to your mental well-being. And believe it or not it could lead to burnout.
Don’t let yourself get there and, as a manager, don’t let your team members get there! Team communication is more important than ever. Use team collaboration apps, such as Hubgets, to keep the team spirit and the sense of unity alive among your people. Keeping in touch with your peers during these difficult times can make all the difference.
Time to act
Psychotherapists say that there are ways we can cope and better control our response to the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid future long-term mental health issues:
- sticking to routines
- eating healthy
- staying in touch with loved ones
- finding ways to distract ourselves and relax
Following the five strategies presented above should also help. And don’t forget, trying to find a balance and to accommodate this new reality is something all of us ought to do for our mental health.
Stay healthy, keep safe!