There may not be much choice right now about home working but you do have choices when it comes to making this ongoing situation as positive and sustainable as possible. Follow these tips by wellbeing coach Christina Macnamara to stay healthy and avoid a total burnout.
Give yourself a break
Consider your normal work life and how you spent your time and energy there. Were you focused on work the whole day? How long was your travel time? Did you have social interactions and down time?
We would go insane if every single day in an office was a full-focus, productivity fest. Managers and company owners know that a certain amount of ‘time wasting’ is needed in order for workers to be happy, to bond as a team and to sustainably commit to their role. Ask yourself how much time out you’re planning into your home-working day and check whether you’re expecting too much of yourself.
Put your body first
You need to move your body and you need time away from the screen. Perhaps those feel like luxuries you can’t afford right now. Your body will tell you that, in fact, they are *non-negotiable* as part of your day.
Take proper tea breaks where you’re not on a screen – stick your drink into a travel cup and go for a quick walk, do a non-demanding physical task like taking the bins out or bouncing on a trampoline for a few minutes. These simple actions aren’t revolutionary, but are you *actually doing them* every day?
Make some rules and stick to them
Boundaries between professional and personal life are usually provided by the physical space we go to work and the clear start and finish times. Sure, we might check emails before and after work, but there’s less temptation to let work spillover when we have physically left our workplace and arrived at home. It’s important to create this sort of structure and transition for yourself.
Decide what time you’re starting and finishing work and stick to it. Even if you did take time in your work day to do the laundry or you were distracted by juggling childcare and work, *you still need time off*.
Don’t take procrastination personally
Perhaps you’re really struggling to get going with work, to feel motivated and get things done. If this is you, then start by turning the volume down on your self-criticism. You may be chastising yourself for being lazy or bad at your job, but that’s not the issue. You might be longing for that old version of yourself who would burn through a to-do list and eat work projects for breakfast.
You probably didn’t realise it at the time, but that previous version of you was receiving a lot of support that isn’t available in the same way for now.
There was more of a sense of certainty and some version of normality that just made sense. You weren’t questioning whether you’d be allowed to go into the office or wondering whether it was ‘safe’ to meet up with your friends. Low energy and a lack of motivation may be a stress response to all of these changes.
It’s ok to ask for help
Many people are experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression as a result of the pandemic. Tell friends and family how you’re feeling, even if you think they’ve got enough on their plates already or might not be understanding. Just dip your toe in, test the waters of being open about what’s going on for you day-to-day.
It’s also worth giving your local doctor a call if you’re feeling like you can’t cope. You can build your energy back up and feel good again, but it does require you to stop expecting yourself to be a superhero in the midst of troubling times.