Working From Home – Tips & Tricks

As we know, workplaces provide the opportunity to interact with colleagues, have social conversations and engage with people. So working from home can be an isolating experience, that can easily have a negative impact on our mental health and general well-being. Here are some simple steps we can all take to help look after our mental health while working from home;

Stick to a routine
Keep your alarm set for the same time you would if you were commuting to work.
• Have a shower—get out of your pyjamas and into casual comfortable clothes.
• Have breakfast and lunch at the usual times. Be innovative—have virtual lunches with your colleagues or friends.
• It is important to remember at the same time,  to be flexible and not too rigid. Working from home can bring new challenges, so it’s best to try not to over-schedule yourself. Ensure to include breaks.

Your workspace
Make sure your workspace is tidy, inviting and ergonomic. A clean and tidy workspace will be more encouraging and safer for you to work at.
• A small diffuser, a scented candle, a coffee cup coaster or a small plant can help improve the mood.
• If possible, separate your workspace from your family. Noise and distractions can become frustrating, heightening emotional responses.

Adapt your work
Acknowledge that this is not a normal time, and won’t be here forever.
• Pretending it is ‘business as usual’ but from home is not always helpful—adjustments need to be made.
• Work with your colleagues and manager to identify essential areas of focus. Channel your energy into those tasks, meetings and priorities.

Stay active
Exercise is important for physical and mental health.
• You can exercise outside as long as you follow required social distancing rules. Take a walk in your lunch break.
• Exercise at home! There are a range of free exercise apps you can download.
• Challenge your friends and work colleagues to home-based exercise challenges.

Stay in touch with your work mates
Connect with your colleagues through platforms such as Zoom, Team, Skype, Facetime etc.
• Use these platforms for work meetings and social interaction.
• They’re a great way to stay in touch with family and friends, too.

Music
Workplaces are rarely completely silent environments. Make a playlist of songs and music you like to listen to.
• Spotify and other platforms have background noise playlists designed for workplaces—so they won’t interfere with your concentration.

News exposure
Stay informed on current developments.
• Limit your exposure to the media.
• Only use trusted news sources.

Eat well
Ensure you maintain a balanced diet for your health and immune system.
• Eat fresh, unprocessed and whole food. Avoid takeaway and high fat foods.
• Plan your lunch and work snacks in the same way you do when working in the office.
• Don’t drink alcohol during your working hours. Be conscious of how much alcohol you are drinking
These are very difficult times, and it is OK, not to be OK. If you need help, reach out and seek the help you need. Don’t forget—you can always see your GP.

Below are some contact numbers, websites and apps that may help if you need more information:

Apps:
Ten Percent Happier (meditation)
BeyondNow (suicide safety)
Buddhify (meditations)
Calm (meditation)
Daisy (domestic & sexual violence)
Headspace (mindfulness & meditation)
MY3 (suicide support)
NOCD (effective care for OCD)
Pocket Rehab (recovery assistance)
PTSD Coach Australia (PTSD assistance)
Recovery Record (eating disorders)
Self-help for Anxiety Management (anxiety)
Smiling Mind (mindfulness)
Blackdog Snapshot (well-being)
What’s up (coping mechanisms)
UCSF Prime (schizophrenia)
Youper (mindfulness & meditation)

Organisations:
Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Kids Helpline 1800 551 800
MensLine Australia 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au
Headspace 1800 650 890 www.headspace.org.au
ReachOut au.reachout.com
Care Leavers Australasia Network 1800 008 774 www.clan.org.au

This article has been adapted from Beyond Blue, Blackdog Institute, Com Health, and St John Australia April 2020 by Teresa Barter, Hendercare.