Working from home – managing your mental health and productivity – Referment

We’ve teamed up with Sanctus, the mental health start-up on a mission to create a world where mental health is viewed the same as physical health, to provide our community with some words of advice and re-affirmation. In this series, we’ll explore topics surrounding mental health in relation to the workplace, Coronavirus and recruitment.

With the second lockdown, a worldwide recession and high unemployment rates, you’d be forgiven for having a lot on your mind at the moment. Whether you’re working from home or spending the second lockdown searching for a new job, here’s a few tips for managing your mental health whilst working from home.

A shock to the system

The first thing to know is that working from home is probably going to be a shock to the system, and that’s okay. 

Even if you’ve worked from home before, or worked totally remote before, like in the first lockdown this Spring, these are different circumstances. Before, it was a choice. Now, our hands have been forced and there’s even questions about whether we can visit friends outside or use public transport to get much needed supplies.

That loss of freedom can feel restricting, and that’s going to feel weird at first. Don’t be hard on yourself or feel like you’re doing this remote thing “all wrong”. 

Simply pay attention to the bits you’re enjoying and the bits you’re finding hard, and make adjustments based on that. 

Everyone works in their own way and you want to find the way that best suits you.

Don’t forget the basics

Time can lose itself as a concept when you’re working remotely, and minutes, hours and days can quite easily merge into one. 

Don’t forget to keep up your daily/weekly basics – getting enough sleep each night, exercising, getting a balanced diet, spending a bit of time outside (although be sure to follow the current government guidelines on getting outside). 

It seems obvious, but it can often be the simplest things we forget to do when our routine drastically changes. 

Keep up a routine

You’re likely not commuting to work right now but that shouldn’t stop you sticking to a routine. Whilst working from home means you might have a few extra hours in your day, there’s no need to change your routine.

Try getting up at a similar time to when you would when you headed into the office and continue your usual routine as much as possible.

With the lack of a commute you’re likely moving around a lot less than usual, so try to put aside a little time before you start working to go for a walk around the block.

Normally have lunch at a certain time? Try and stick to a similar time while at home.

Stay connected

Connection is so important right now. Make sure you stay connected with friends, family and colleagues as much as you usually would.

Here at Referment we have a few scheduled lunch-time catch-ups with the whole team each week and Sanctus have a daily tea-time catch-up at 11am.

Be honest with how you’re feeling

If everything that’s happening in the world or working remotely is weighing down on you, then be honest about it to someone. Preferably your manager or whoever supports you in a work capacity, but if not to friends or family.

When we’re in a period of isolation, how we’re feeling gets amplified and can be overwhelming.

They say a problem shared is a problem halved, so don’t be afraid to be honest with where you’re at.

The guys at Sanctus recommend doing one-sentence check-ins where they honestly say how they’re finding things. “I’m bored”, “I’m feeling lonely” and “I’m quite enjoying myself” have all come out so far.

Don’t work where you sleep

It can be tempting to wake up in the morning, grab the laptop and stay snug in bed while working through your emails. Or, to simply stay in your room all day working from your desk.

However, there’s plenty of science floating around that shows if you don’t separate the rooms out to match the different parts of your life, they can all merge into one. 

It’ll make it harder for you to sleep at night, and you’ll also find it less relaxing in your bedroom.

Find somewhere else to work from the house if possible, and only work from your bedroom when absolutely necessary.

Stop and turn it off

Without the commute to and from work, it can sometimes feel like there’s no beginning or end to our working days.

Have a stop time each day. Whether that’s one set hard stop each day or it’s a different time every day, just be clear that once you’ve stopped, you’ve stopped. 

No more reaching for the laptop or refreshing of your emails – 99% of work can wait until the next day. 

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the small wins

Filling our day with a few small wins will help give a sense of accomplishment and feeling that the day has been productive to a degree. 

This may sound patronising but remembering to shower and make your bed in the morning are a couple of quick wins that can help you get your day started on the right foot. 

Try to get out and walk for 10 minutes before starting work and try to do the walk without your phone so you can avoid any temptation of checking those emails.

These are just a few ways to address your mental health whilst working from home. With the help of Sanctus, we’ve put together a list of great apps and techniques you can use in your life to keep on top of your health, both mental and physical. Check it out here.

If you know anyone out of work currently, refer them to us using the Referment platform and we’ll help connect them with companies in our network.

If you’re struggling with your mental health and need some urgent advice please contact Samaritans here.