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Maintaining mental well-being while home working

As a consultant I’m used to working from a range of different locations, including from home. However, speaking to a number of professionals it occurred to me that many have never worked from home on a continuous basis. I first thought about sharing my own experiences but instead, engaged the services of an NHS Mental Health Nurse to give her insights. Here’s what she told us.

laptop and glasses on a kitchen table
Home working at table

The best way to maintain good mental well-being whist home working is all about routine, as well as preparation made the previous day.

Think back to when you have revision to do for your school exams or further education, a top tip is to try to remember what worked for you and, of course, what didn’t. Make sure to separate your office space from the rest of your home, wherever possible, so it feels like you have a space for work. It follows that working from bed or on the sofa is not the best plan for productivity.  

The first step is to work from a to do list, but when you complete the task don’t delete it, instead mark it as complete, we’ll explain why later.

Your work/life balance is vital to your well-being, don’t be tempted to work longer than you need, instead, focus on working your usual hours with a 30minute lunch break. Even if you don’t usually take your lunch break, this is now an ideal opportunity to spend your break with family or even chatting with friends on the phone. Working your usual hours, with a lunch break, is essential for your well-being because of the need for routine. We can also build in a short piece of exercise before or after work to mimic the commute, usually a time to switch on/off from our working day. If you are unable to go outside to exercise you could simply sit by an open window, or in your garden/yard to get a burst of fresh air.

During your lunch break try not to look at a computer screen or your phone. It’s difficult but we spend most of the day, especially the home working day, staring at screens so this time away is essential. Furthermore, we are bombarded with news, thoughts and opinions about COVID-19, so time away from this can really help your mental health.

Practice mindful eating, enjoying your food and also mindful breathing – inhale four breaths, exhale eight shorter breaths and repeat four times – which helps to increase concentration.

Make sure you stay hydrated, so always work with some water, juice or herbal tea. If you feel lethargic or achy from sitting then stand up, walk around and perhaps gently stretch – we would never do this in the office but in the privacy of our home we tend to feel more comfortable to do as we need.

Another top tip is to split the day up - two hours of continuous work is a lot so reward yourself with a healthy snack, cup of tea or do that mindful breathing exercise. Plan some time at the end of your work day to look back over your to do list, give yourself praise for the items completed, hence why you shouldn’t delete completed items, and plan tomorrow's day. You feel so much better knowing you have a plan of action to complete what you need to, which means you switch off from work more easily come the end of the day – this is often a struggle for those homeworking.

In your evenings ensure you connect with others, family and friends, for example. Limit your screen time though, some video chat is great but remember it is beneficial to have time away from your screen as well.

We hope the above is helpful, or at least one or two parts. One other top tip from us: Collaboration with other professionals ensures you maintain social connections. We’ll be hosting a series of co-working webinars to assist with this, if you are interested in finding out more just let us know.


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