In This Together: Tips to Reduce Stress & Anxiety While Working from Home
28 April 2020
Malene M. Therkelsen
As the world continues to evolve, so does how and where we work. With remote work being the new norm, new challenges arise which could impact our work productivity as well as our mental, physical and emotional health. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to prioritize wellness by practicing healthy routines at home/work.
There can be a great deal of stress and anxiety related to the transition of working from office to home and it can be a challenge to balance productivity with self-care. We’re sharing 7 tips that have eased our team’s transition in the hopes they may help you too!
While working from home, you might be tempted to keep up-to-date with the news by having the TV or radio on in the background and/or checking social media. However, “the constant barrage of news is only going to elevate your anxiety and stress,” says Clinical Psychologist Kevin Gilliland, Psy.D & Executive Director of Innovation 360. “It’s important to stay informed, but you don’t have to listen to every breaking news report throughout the day.”
Gilliland recommends you simply “watch a half-hour of news in the morning, then check a news website or two in the afternoon.” That’s it.
Create a routine
When working from home you may not have the same control or uniformity in your life. Maurya Glaude, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at Tulane University’s School of Social Work in New Orleans recommends you “exert some control and familiarity” by creating a routine and “sticking to a schedule.”
Glaude suggests, “Get up at a reasonable time, get dressed, and have a plan for your day.” This will create predictability that can be comforting during these unpredictable times.
H2O & eat healthy
Staying hydrated and eating healthy seems like a no-brainer, but in reality, it’s easy to lose track of time and forget to engage in this daily, commonplace self-care.
“It’s more important than ever to keep up your healthy habits,” says Clinical Psychologist Lori Whatley, Ph.D. “Stay hydrated, get some exercise and fresh air if you can, eat healthfully, and avoid too much alcohol and sugar. Taking care of yourself in these ways is also going to have a positive impact on your mental health.” Bonus, these practices can also keep your blood sugar stable, elevate your mood, and boost energy levels.
In this period of self-isolation, it’s essential to get up, move, walk, exercise, and stretch because movement can reduce stress and anxiety, not to mention relieve neck, shoulder, and back pain. While working from home, make sure to stand up, take a short walk, and stretch once in a while. If it’s safe (remember to check out what’s going on in your local community), try getting outside for a walk or run around the neighborhood, as fresh air and sunlight can increase your mood and decrease your anxiety levels, as suggested by Whatley.
It is easier said than done but participating in mindful and relaxing activities is important when feeling stressed or overwhelmed. “Mindfulness, relaxation techniques and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy are all genuinely useful for people who are very anxious,” said Dr. Niall Campbell, a Consultant Psychiatrist at the Priory’s Roehampton Hospital in London. Ten minutes of meditation and mindfulness a day can have positive effects on your mental wellbeing, although it can be challenging when working from home and looking after children.
Headspace is offering free meditations, sleep, and movement exercises to support you through this time of crisis. You can download and register through the app then navigate to “Weathering the Storm” here.
When working from home, it’s important to check in with friends, family, and colleagues to help keep a sense of normality, suggests Chief People Officer at Limeade, Laura Hamill, Ph.D. She recommends “using group chats, videoconferences and more frequent phone calls to get the connection you need.” This can help you keep in touch and prevent loneliness.
If you’re feeling isolated or lonely, take a break and reach out to someone by asking how they’re doing, how they’re dealing, or what they’re going through. Connecting and socializing virtually can help reduce our anxiety and the anxiety of others – even if it’s just for a minute or two.
When self-isolating and working from home, “it’s a good idea to add some practices that may bolster mental health,” Whatley says. “Start each day with a gratitude practice, listing a few things for which you’re grateful.” Focusing on what you’re grateful for will lighten your mood and help adjust your mindset.
The demands of working from home can create anxiety and stress which take a toll on your mental health. To stay productive and calm while working from home, it’s important to focus on what you can do to mitigate and manage your stress and anxiety. We hope these tips can help you do just that.
Cite references for expert quotes & recommendations below: