By Joanna, an accredited and qualified Health Coach specializing in working with clients and businesses to protect from the negative affects of stress and burnout.
Ok, so we all are experiencing lockdown. Restrictions to our daily lives and freedoms are in place and for many that means working from home.
There are many things that we share with this experience – our office and leisure time is now in the same place, but how we cope, deal and experience this new norm is different.
Whilst our day-to-day experience is the same, there are still a number of challenges that we share and should be aware of and manage to avoid burnout, poor sleep, and productivity.
- Setting boundaries for work/ leisure – work is creeping more into down time and that is impacting sleep, relationships, and stress.
- Combating loneliness when you are working from home and living alone in lockdown.
- How to build a good WFH routine – including movement, work scheduling and switching off.
Boundaries – Really, essential. With leisure being restricted, and to be honest, beginning to feel like Groundhog Day, the temptation to crack on with work well into the evening, or be permanently connected is strong. But just because there is not much to do that does not mean that downtime and recovery isn’t essential. Giving our brains and bodies a chance to recharge and reconnect is powerful in improving our ability to perform, be productive, creative, and energised through the working day. So, try and stick to a start and end time with work, use the non-work time to recharge – go for walk, have a relaxing bath, make something nice for dinner, read, do a hobby, do some movement, listen to some music, binge on Netflix. The downtime you give yourself in the evening will be beneficial for the quality of your sleep and therefore energy the next day.
Loneliness – working from home can mean we are either super connected (Zooming all day) or completely isolated. Either way, loneliness can creep in and be incredibly damaging. Even those that are seeing people on screen all day are still missing out on those small, informal chats and connections during the day – those ‘water cooler’ moments. Connections are so important and so it may take a bit of effort to keep it going, especially as there is one topic of conversation and not much to catch up on as no one is going anywhere! But, just reaching out, sharing how you are feeling, having a laugh, talking rubbish, really lifts the mood and keeps that essential connections with friends and family. Loneliness is as harmful as smoking and you can get sucked into the black hole of isolation really easily (even if its in your own head), so making a regular point to call a friend or check in on a loved one is a good way to keep that contact going until we can see people again.
Routine – this can help us feel a bit more control in a situation that we have very little over! Boundaries are key to this working. It may seem a struggle to set a routine if you are juggling many things at the moment (home schooling, caring, covering for colleagues) as well as doing your role, but it doesn’t have to be super controlled to the exact minute, it can be broken into pockets of time. A good way to approach routine is as follows:
- Start and end time for your day – even if that is a little different at the moment, sticking to this will stop work taking over. Closing down the laptop, clearing work away and switching off work notifications (or putting the work phone in a drawer) will all help with that transition from work to leisure. Having visual prompts and pings from your phone every 10 mins will make it harder to switch the mind off from work.
- Be the boss of your day
- Take some time in the morning to plan what needs doing – make it realistic.
- Take some time at the end of the day to close the day down, tick off the areas of your to-do-list and list what needs to doing tomorrow – this will stop you thinking about it in the evening and night.
- Take a break – a break (however small) will recharge your batteries and keep energy levels high. Take the time to eat, hydrate and move.
- Create opportunities for leisure – having things fill your time in the evening is a good way to distract from work and enable you to switch off. Phone a friend, read, watch a movie, bake or do a hobby. All of these evening activities will help bring the body and mind down a notch and therefore enhance the quality of your sleep.
Ultimately its all about putting each of these in place for your unique situation, but all can be done without much thinking or time. By creating these habits you will feel more in control, having a set time for work will focus the mind and make you more productive in that time.