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7 Helpful Tips on How to Stay Mentally Healthy While Working Remotely

[By Richard Conn - Senior Director, Demand Generation, 8x8]

Working remotely sounds incredible. 

Well, it can be when you’re mentally healthy. When you’re not in the right headspace, working remotely can be lonely and monotonous. If you don’t keep your mental health in check, feelings of anxiety and depression soon start to outweigh the benefits of zero commute time and playing with your new puppy.

Remote working often aligns with flexible working, which is great if you’re the kind of employee who thrives on being self-motivated. For others, the ability to clock in at any time and fly solo can lead to a pretty disorientating experience. 

As humans, we typically like structure and routine. But, as much as it’s liberating working in your pajamas all day, the novelty soon wears off. Not getting dressed for the day also poses visibility at work issues, as you’re not likely to join video calls if you’ve spilled cornflakes on your loungewear.   

Even if you’re feeling good about working remotely, taking steps now to look after your mental wellbeing will pay dividends in the long run. 

So, how do we achieve the best of both worlds? The key is balance. If you want to enjoy a sweet remote setup with a flexible schedule, read on, remote worker, read on. 

You’re in luck. We’ve got seven helpful tips to keep you mentally healthy while working remotely:

     1. Assign yourself a proper workspace

     2. Create a remote routine 

     3. Be mindful about breaks

     4. Plan social interactions

     5. Set boundaries

     6. Don’t forget to clock out

     7. Practice mindfulness 

1. Assign Yourself A Proper Workspace

Tempting as it is to bring your laptop back to bed, this isn’t a practical option. It’s also not the most professional look whilst demonstrating video conferencing solutions to the rest of your team!

A proper space to work gets your head in the game and can increase your productivity at home. Ensure your home office equipment is fit for purpose and comfortable. A worthwhile investment is a decent office chair and wide desk. If your budget allows (speak to your boss nicely!), check out sit/stand desks to get your steps in whilst working. 

Make sure you can differentiate work from play. An ideal situation is somewhere to work with a physical door. When you’re done for the day, you can close the door to work and start enjoying your leisure time.  

Bonus tip: consider a workspace with plenty of natural light. Add plants, candles, motivational mantras - whatever gets you in the best work mindset. 

2. Create a Remote Routine 

Best practice is to wake up at roughly the same time each morning as if you’re heading for the office commute. That’ll help you focus and be mentally prepared for the day ahead.  

Block out space in your diary for designated creative time and take advantage of peace to achieve these tasks. When it comes to collaboration, incorporate team tasks management systems to work with the rest of your team remotely. Task management tools are invaluable for remote teams to communicate, share files and identify resource requirements. 

Bonus tip: allow yourself time before work to engage in a favorite activity. Launching yourself straight into work can be a challenge without the physical interlude of journeying to the office. So pencil in activities like reading, some downward dogs, or walking your actual dog.  

3. Be Mindful About Breaks

It’s really easy to skip breaks when you’re working remotely. As a remote worker, it’s even more important to take regular breaks. 50% of employers cite increased productivity as the main benefit of a remote workforce, so be mindful of your mental health and don’t let yourself burn out.  

As well as entering project timeline tasks in your diary, be sure to set breaks throughout the day, and stick to them. Share diaries with the rest of your team so it’s clear if you’re taking a break or ready to work.

Breaks that incorporate exercise hit the mental health jackpot. We all know that exercise is good for our physical health. It’s also vital for our mental wellbeing, especially while working remotely due to isolation factors. Regular exercise is a natural way to relieve anxiety, so it’s great if you can incorporate an enjoyable form of exercise into your weekly routine. 

If you can get some fresh air during your breaks, do so. If getting out and about is challenging, why not smash out a quick home workout? There’s no shortage of fitness classes online, and who knows, you might find a newfound affinity for street dance.  

Breaks should include eyes away from screen time, too. It’s amazing how much tension builds up in our bodies when we’re working non-stop. 

Bonus tip: partner up with a team member for a virtual lunch break for that all-important social interaction during your break (more on this in a moment). Remind yourself to take breaks by scheduling them in your diary with reminders.  

4. Plan Social Interactions

Social interactions must be planned while working remotely. Remaining connected with the rest of your team keeps productivity and engagement high. Not to mention banishing the feelings of isolation. If your employer provides you with voice over internet phone technology to use remotely, it’s easy to stay connected and feel that you’re part of a team. 

Plan to connect with your colleagues at the start of each day, which sets the tone for the rest of your team. Use these opportunities to share funny client stories, ask for help on projects, and generally enjoy each others’ company. A lot of us feel that because we’re working remotely, we have to be alone all the time. But zero human interaction is the fastest way to depression and feelings of isolation. 

As you can see from the visual below, most employees are interested in improving work relationships with colleagues. Why not brainstorm together with your team whilst engaging in some much-needed team banter? Kick the conversation off with “What is a VoIP caller?” and see the responses you receive!

Image Source

If you’re struggling with feeling lonely, why not work in a coffee shop or investigate co-working spaces near you? Spending a couple of days a week other than in your home office can do wonders for your mental health. Think outside the box, as working remotely doesn’t have to mean always working from home

Bonus tip: there are lots of ways you can socialize with your team remotely. Virtual coffee breaks, weekly team meetings, and group chats help boost interactions. 

5. Set Boundaries

This tip is another reference to avoiding burnout. Surveys show that remote workers tack on an average of 3.13 hours a day. To avoid working more than you’re being paid for, communicate your schedule with the rest of your team so you’re not distracted, which will help you achieve your priority tasks. 

The well-known 80/20 rule is very relevant in the remote work climate. Relating to the business world, this method aligns 20 percent workload accountable for 80 percent output. Basically, don’t sweat the small stuff! Strive to prioritize your tasks that deliver the most results. 

Bonus tip: be sure to communicate to your family your scheduled work times to avoid blurred lines between home and work. If you’re sharing a workspace with a family member, work out designated times for when you need to get your head down and concentrate.  

6. Don’t Forget to Clock Out 

Clocking out is more than physically turning off your computer at the end of the day. We all have technology on our phones that enable us to switch into “work mode” at the touch of a button. An end-of-day routine is great to create habits that mentally switch us off. Things like a brisk walk, hitting the gym, and sitting down with a drink with your loved one are good end-of-day habits. Consider digital detoxing when your workday is done, too.   

Bonus tip: set notifications on your phone to reflect your non-working hours, so you aren’t tempted to just quickly check emails before bed. You can deal with them in the morning. 

7. Practice Mindfulness 

Our lives are busier than ever before and striving for the perfect work/life balance can be challenging for most of us. Even pioneering entrepreneurs like women in technology industries need downtime, too. 

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the here and now. Focusing on the present can reduce negative thoughts and allow you to become objective in the face of stressful situations. When done regularly, mindfulness is an incredibly powerful tool for relieving stress and anxieties. 

Bonus tip: set daily reminders for mindfulness practice. There are numerous downloadable mindfulness and meditation apps that include automated reminders to help you with this. 

Make Working Remotely Good for Your Mental Health 

Hopefully, these tips will help you successfully separate your work and leisure time for a better work/life balance. Working remotely can be awesome, so take steps to ensure your mental health is fit for the new working environment. Remote working looks set to stay, with many offices now redundant in favor of completely remote workforces. 

Take the time to work out your own unique working schedule, add enforced breaks into your day, and enjoy the freedom remote working brings. The perfect work/life balance is within your reach.

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