Working at home in Corona times. Tips for maintaining your mental health and balancing work/private life

  • event 19-10-2020
  • schedule 07:55
  • timer 7 minuten

October 2020

Hold on to your daily routines

Keep up your daily routine as if you are still going to the office. Irregularity in your work and private life can lead to feelings of turmoil and instability. An example of how you  find stability and regularity is  by taking a walk or a bike ride in the morning, then carrying out a task that gives your energy. Make sure that you can work without  any distractions from emails or phone calls. Take your time to lunch. Leave the computer and even go outside to take a breath of fresh air. The time directly after  the lunch break is more suitable for routine tasks and ” to do-things”. From 15:00 you could possibly  try to do another complex task. It is wise to keep a rhythm of 1 to 1.5 hours of effort and then a break of 10 – 15 minutes away from the  monitor.

Plan regular  breaks

Experience demonstrates that many people tend to work harder at home and take fewer break. It is not healthy to sit behind the screen for the duration of the  8 hours. Sequence  of online meetings  require a lot of focus, attention and concentration. On the one hand, meetings are more efficient and shorter, because online meeting are less inviting and open to chitchat . On the other hand, it requires more alertness to the purpose of the communication, because nuances of communication are missing. It can also raise frustrations that you want to be closer to each other, but the online platform creates and sharpens the remoteness.

For a working day at the office,  expecting 6 hours productivity is realistic, taking into account that you would take in total about two hours to walk back and forth, consult or catch up with colleagues and to lunch.  It is therefore important to give yourself the same time  to take a breather when you work at home. Find out what kind of activities at home are pleasantly functional for you as that breather.

Switch off after a workday

Working at home does not give off the same sense of freedom that the end of a work day at the office gives off. After all, the work is now at home, so you are not leaving it behind you at the office. Think of a ritual  that you can do  at the end of each  work day, which will help you feel like you left work.

For example,  make a distinction between work clothes and what you wear at home. Once finished working, change into  your home or leisure clothes. Another suggestion is to deliberately store your work gear behind a door or cupboard that you lock up; or take a shower and literally  wash the workday off.

Working with colleagues

Now that it appears that the corona and the need to work from home will last longer than expected, it is important to make time for informal conversations and/or meetings  with your colleagues. The danger in working effectively and task-orientally online, is that the feelings of belongingness, togetherness and  the interconnection decline. Additionally, this form of communication leaves much to be desired when it comes to listening and supporting each other. Therefore, plan both ,moments of task-oriented meetings, as well as, informal moments in which you can talk, share, ,advice and confer  together. Try to take advantage of the available opportunities available to reconnect in person( e.g. taking a walk, picnic, ride a bike together)

What is my meaningfulness?

Working from home may make you feel more drawn back. Many positive incentives have vanished      ( e.g. office parties, chatting at the coffee machine ,getting a pat on the back). Perhaps it may be a accompanied with a sense of emptiness  or dissatisfaction with what you have actually done during the  day. That’s why you should  ask yourself and your colleagues the following question; What did I mean or contribute no matter (how small is it)? Then,  focus on those things you named.

Balancing  being too much or hardly any ,alone and together time

Too  much alone time
You may spend too much time alone ,because you don’t have a partner, miss a family  member or because of the fact that work at the office was a major and  important part of your life. It takes creativity and commitment to personally meet people. It is  recommended to plan in advance  a time  to reconnect with friends and colleagues, such as an outdoor activity or to work together. You can then look forward to it and have a consistent support resource.

Hardly any alone time
You may not have enough ‘’me’’ time  when the whole family has to work  and study at home. Mutual irritations can run high when workstations need to be shared or when habits and wishes collide. Make a  family schedule and make sure that the advantages and disadvantages are equally shared between family members. When there is a favorite workplace or computer in the house, everyone should be able to rotate and use it equally. See if it is possible to work outside home  like  at the library, a friend’s house or on a park bench.
Make sure you don’t spend all your time together, thus also meet your friends or other family members. In corona time, walking together, cycling is still a possible outdoor activity.

Confronting problems; don’t solve everything now

During this time  you may be confronted with problems, which otherwise  due to being at the office were less evident to you. You may start to get annoyed by your partner, children or living environment. There could be more arguments and misunderstanding at home; or you realize that you are stuck, sad and disappointed by your job . It is important to realize that a crisis, like the corona and working at home, puts a magnifying glass on certain problems. It’s harder to put things into perspective and distance yourself. In times of crisis, it is important to live  day by the day and  to focus on what has gone well or what you have done well, however small it may be.  It is not sensible to put pressure on yourself, or on others, to  immediately solve certain problems. Be patient with yourself and your surroundings in this new situation. As well as, take the time to reflect on what are the sensible steps  that need to be taken in order to solve the problems  or make them manageable.

How to deal with health anxiety?

You may  worry about your health and that of others. It’s hard to live with something that is unpredictable. It raises questions such as; Can I get sick? Have I complied enough with the corona regulations? How are my elderly parents ,who belong in  the high risk group, coping? Furthermore, physical warmth and tenderness may be lacking due to keeping the 1.5 meter distance. This is difficult because we as humans need proximity, warmth and nurturing.

In times of uncertainty and fear, it is important to stick to the rules, to focus on what you can do to protect yourself and help prevent illness from further spreading. If you notice  that you dare less and due to angst tend to retreat and self-isolate,  try to stick to your daily routines as much as possible. Seek support from others. Think about other challenging moments in your life and remember what helped you deal with them then.

How to cope with (impending) job/income loss?

Having a job and steady income is an important pillar of your life. It allows you to live your daily life, have a roof over your head, buy food, take care of your family etc. It contributes to your self-worth and  level of confidence in your qualities as a professional. The (imminent) loss of a job is profound and stressful. It may be easy for others to say “you’ll get benefits” or “you finally have the free time that you always wanted.” It is prudent that you take control of your life, that  which is within your power. Map out your work experience, skills and diplomas. Look at employment sectors ,where there is  still a need for employees. Bring forth   that which is in line with that sector. Looking for a new job is an intensive task. Plan a few half days a week to get started. Make sure you use the other day parts  for activities  that relax you. In this way you can avoid exhaustion due to overly intensive  pursuit of a new job.

Plan time to recuperate , “oases”

A prolonged intensive situation is bearable by planning a regular  recuperation time in your daily routine. Find quiet and relaxing places  ,where the presence of stressors is minimum.   It is sensible to take a break after every 1 to 1.5 hours of continuous work and spend it in such an oasis.

For maintaining your mental health, see the App: