Mental Health and Home Office - How to Actively Strengthen Your Mental Health
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Since the Covid pandemic, many of us have been working from home. Of course, we all enjoy the wonderful benefits such as not having to commute to work, or secretly wearing sweatpants combined with a business top. However, working from home on a regular basis also comes with some challenges that, if left unattended, can be potentially detrimental to our mental health.
Here are 6 concrete tips you can try to improve your mental health in the home office:
When working from home, the lines between work and free time become increasingly blurred. If the work laptop is at home, there's nothing to stop us from quickly reading the latest e-mails on the couch in the evening. It can also happen that our free time spills over into the work area and we find it difficult to concentrate on our work at home. In both cases, it can be very helpful to set yourself clear boundaries. Think about when exactly you want to work and when you don't, and use an alarm clock to remind yourself of your work and leisure times, for example.
2. Communicate your working hours to your environment
To ensure that you can stick to your working hours and that your work does not constantly get in the way of your private life, or vice versa, it’s important that you talk to those around you. Inform your colleagues and your private environment when you would like to work without interruptions. In many cases, of course, arrangements need to be made. However, these can be very helpful in order to either work or relax without being stressed.
3. Create rest spaces
If you work in multiple rooms in your home, it might be helpful to do some soul-searching and ask yourself this question: "Do I want to associate each place in my home with my work?". It may be that you think it's great to use your whole apartment for working and you thrive on changing your work locations. However, you may also find it difficult to use your home as a place to rest if you associate too many areas with your work. Feel into yourself and if necessary, create conscious spaces of rest where you don't work, but spend your free time.
4. Social contacts
In the office, we meet other people all the time. A quick smile on the hallway, a coffee break together, or even meetings in which we sit in a room with other people. When we work in the office, we feel the presence of our colleagues and perceive them with many more senses than virtually. Social contacts are important for our health (1, 2). Therefore, make sure that you maintain your social contacts even with Corona and the home office. Even virtual coffee breaks can have a positive effect on your mental well-being. And if your colleagues don't live far away, you could try meeting up for a walk in the fresh air.
5. Exercise and breaks
To stay mentally and physically fit, it's important to take regular breaks. This can greatly increase your productivity and creativity. Moments, when you feel like you're just not getting anywhere, are often the best time to take a short break. These are the moments when it's hardest to let go, but sometimes you need just that distance to take a fresh look at the tasks at hand from a different perspective. Consciously observe how often you actually get up, take a few steps, stretch, or even go for a walk. Physical exercise is very good for our mental health and body (3).
6. Consciously relax
Are you still brooding over your work while sitting on the couch, or do you even find it difficult to fall asleep at night because your mind won't let you rest? In such cases, it is important to practice conscious relaxation. There are various approaches to this, such as physical exercise, meditation, or thoughts diaries. Conscious distraction, through for example movies, audiobooks, reading, or creative activities, is also an effective approach to better switch off.
With all the tips we have shared with you in this article, it is quite clear that not every one of them will be suitable for you. You and your working situation are unique. We would like to invite you to contact us with your individual situation. We offer you a safe space where you can share your concerns with us and together we can take a look at what you need right now.
Author: Anna Seger
(1) Hall-Lande, J.A. , Eisenberg, M. E., Christenson, S. L. & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Social Isolation, Psychological Health, and Protective Factors in Adolescence. Adolescence, 42, 265-287.
(2) Holt-Lunstad J., Smith T.B, & Layton J.B (2010). Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Med 7 (7): e1000316. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316
(3) Rethorst CD,Wipfli BM, Landers DM (2009) The antidepressive effects of exercise. A meta-analysis of randomized trials. Sports Med 39:491–511