How to Take the Stress Out of Working from Home (Long-Term)
By Dr Becky Spelman
As we close in on nearly a full year of much of the nation being furloughed, it’s reasonable to ask where it’s left the state of mental health amongst all those who’ve either been forcibly – or else elected – to work from home. At the outset, for many, this all may have seemed like the dream ticket. Roll out of bed at whatever o’clock put a shirt on, keep the pyjama bottoms on, log in for a daily conference call before a long lunch and a bit of typing. But it doesn’t quite work that way… And while some pressures have been alleviated, the act of working from home has brought with it new challenges.
The Reality of Being Furloughed
Each company will invariably have its own policies. But there has been a tendency – at least in some businesses – to max out the schedule of its employees. Many people are now having to cope with their time being blocked out in a never-ending cycle of Zoom call after Zoom call. It creates an ‘always on/always on call’ culture where the opportunity for any kind of downtime or lunch break becomes a luxury or special treat rather than the basic human requirement. This, of course, is just one factor that is contributing to the burnout of the some 46.6% that are currently working from home.
New ways of working have also brought new challenges, as we’ve already touched on. Moving from an environment where human interaction is pretty much taken for granted to one that is now exclusively based in the digital sphere has added to the malaise of what can already be quite tedious tasks for many people who’re responsible for logistical duties within their company. Communication has taken a big hit. No longer do we have the fall back of body language to pull us out of a rut if our words are failing us. A lot of what’s being said has now been confined to the black and white of emails. This has led to increased anxiety about the subtext of messages. Some people just don’t care to communicate very well in a written medium.
3 Signs That You’re Cracking Under the Stress of Working from Home
If you’ve been working from home for an extended period, you’ll most likely already be feeling the pinch in some way. But it also might not be so obvious that stress has become a part of your behavioural patterns. It can take many different forms and can have a slow-burning effect. But perhaps worst of all, we can seek to justify our inability to cope with the stress of unreasonable conditions, supposing that it must be us that are ill-equipped to deal with what’s being asked instead of questioning whether these demands are feasible or even fair at all.
Making Mistakes: This will most likely be the first sign you notice. Mistakes creep in most often when people are placed under increasing pressure to perform, and also during undesirable conditions.
Decreased Resilience: As you make mistakes, over time, it will slowly begin to chip away at your morale. You may incur supervisions or interventions by your superiors, which, at first may be fine. But as the stress takes hold, it will see your ability to take constructive criticism decrease.
You’re Losing Motivation: The final sign is that you will just lose the will to show up, both in a figurative and literal sense. You may be there physically, but mentally, you’ll be absent, which in turn, becomes a self-perpetuating cycle of increased mistakes and decreased resilience.
5 Simple Steps to Takes the Stress Out of Your Work Day
The key to working from home long-term is to strategise, and that is to say, know your strengths and weaknesses. If you know there’s an aspect of your workflow, environment and quality that’s going to be your undoing, address it. Don’t allow it fester and grow into a problem that’s far worse than it should ever have been allowed to become. Here are some simple steps to get you started:
1. Create a Schedule and Prioritise Your Tasks
This may seem a little obvious, but stress can result from obvious places that often require a little tweaking to get past them. Knowing how you’re going to spend your day will allow you to allocate the proper time and stay on top of your workflow.
2. Schedule Your Least Desirable Tasks First
Rather than taking care of the easy things on your to-do list, make point of getting the gritty work out of the way as soon as possible in your day. This has two effects: 1) It leaves you without the worry of completing it later. 2) It allows you to create a reward system for a job well done.
3. Have a Dedicated Workspace
Another obvious inclusion… But create a clear distinction between workspace, communal space and private recreational space is one of the most overlooked, but easy to fix sources of dysfunction in your workflow that could be contributing to your stress.
4. Don’t Allow Yourself to Manufacture Conflict That isn’t There
Remember when corresponding with people by email, text or WhatsApp, there isn’t always an undercurrent of animosity. A lot is lost in the written word, which some people just aren’t aware of and are too busy to compensate for by typing lengthy prose-like messages.
5. Request Some Actual Downtime from Your Employers
If you’re finding your schedule and/or workload unmanageable, don’t suffer in silence. Speak to your employer. It doesn’t need to be fractious – you don’t need to confront. Just converse with them. Open up a dialogue and make your grievances known.
About the author:
Dr Becky Spelman is a leading UK Psychologist who’s had great success helping her clients manage and overcome a multitude of mental illnesses.
***If you’re struggling with the stress of working from home and think you might benefit from speaking to someone, we offer a FREE 15-MINUTE CONSULTATION with one of our specialists to help you find the best way to move forward. You can book yours here.
Very Well Mind (7th Feb 2021) How to Handle the Stress of Working From Home.
Psychology Today (3rd May 2020) Does Working From Home Make You Blue? Research Explains Why. Retrieved on 25th February, 2020 from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/the-couch/202005/does-working-home-make-you-blue-research-explains-why
NHS (2020) 7 simple tips to tackle working from home. Retrieved on 25th February, 2020 from, https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/7-simple-tips-to-tackle-working-from-home/
How to Take the Stress Out of Working from Home (Long-Term) was last modified: July 5th, 2021 by Dr Becky Spelman
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