Listen: Collett Smart provides some practical tips to help you adjust to working at home during a crisis
By Collett SmartWednesday 8 Apr 2020Mental Fitness With Psychologist Collett SmartHealth and WellbeingReading Time: 3 minutes
I read someone’s Facebook post this week which said, “this isn’t working from home — it’s working at home, during a crisis”.
I think that is an important distinction to make. When you’re used to working from home, you’re properly set up, and it will come naturally. In a crisis however, thrown unexpectedly into the situation, is quite a different thing.
So, how do we stay sane and mentally fit while working at home during a global crisis — the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
You may find yourself even more isolated than you have ever felt before. or perhaps you have kids crawling up on your lap or teens constantly rummaging in your drawers while you’re on a Zoom meeting.
The foundation for getting through this is to remind yourself this will pass: – it is not permanent, there will be an end to this – and be kind to yourself and family when people have days when they’re a little frayed.
Here are some practical tips I have seen a number of experts and articles recommend:
A routine improves mental and physical health. Write down or add calendar events as you would if you were going out or to your place of work. But also expect your schedule to disintegrate on some days. This doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible, but seeing a physical schedule can help you see that you have some type of structure to your days.
Have a getting-started routine or a morning routine that allows you to transition psychologically into work mode. This can be sitting down with breakfast, a cup of coffee or tea, logging in online, and logging out of all your social media apps. As part of your morning routine, take a shower before you start work, get dressed, make your bed (if that’s usual for you), and do your hair.
3. Stick to Work Hours
Try to stick to a schedule or regular work hours, where you start and end each work around the same time, and sleep and wake up at the same time.
4. Set Boundaries
In regard to others in your house, it is important to set working boundaries so that you’re not distracted by the kids or having to open the door for people. Physical space is important, too. Try to create a work space in your home that is separate from your spaces for relaxation. It’s crucial to have this psychological difference in where you work and where you relax.
5. Have A Clear-Cut Finish Time
Don’t work until all hours of the night, if that’s not what you’d normally do in the office. Have a discipline of calling it a day, turning off your computer, turning off your work messaging, and moving into your home life.
6. Take Proper Breaks
Schedule breaks and take them in their entirety. If you normally have an hour for lunch, take the full hour! If self-isolation and social distancing measures permit, go for a walk. And, remember to have proper meals.
7. Schedule ‘Down Time’
Do things that are relaxing and that you enjoy in your personal time— things you’ve wanted to try or you’ve put off.
8. Connect With Others
Make time to connect with and socialise with colleagues and friends virtually. Isolation does not have to mean loneliness.
9. Manage Expectations
This relates to your expectations as well as others. Set expectations for your work load, emails, and more.
10. Look After Your Spirit
One arm of resilience recognised by American developmental psychologist Emmy Werner some decades ago, is spirituality. Make time to meditate and pray and practice gratitude.
? Check out the next episode — Maintaining Your Mental Health
Please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information, Resources and Encouragement central page for more information, support and encouragement.