February 11, 2021
When the COVID-19 pandemic began sweeping across the globe in early 2020, S&P Global Market Intelligence found almost 80 percent of organizations implemented work-from-home policies. Employees hoping to return to an office soon are likely to be disappointed: more than two-thirds of companies expect expanded work-from-home policies to be in place long-term — or even permanently.
There are certainly many positive aspects to working from home: no commute, more freedom during the workday, and healthy lunches at home instead of endless fast-casual dining. But the impact on mental health can be draining: those who work from home tend to spend more hours working, and work-life balance can quickly erode.
If you’re currently working from home, chances are you will be for a while. Implement the following six practices into your workday to maintain, and even improve, your mental health:
Creating structure for the workday is the most basic step to good mental health while working from home. When someone works in an office, they establish a routine: their shower before work, getting dressed, where they stop for coffee, or even the route they drive to the office. Now that your home has become your office, it’s important to establish the same markers. Identify start and end times, and when you’ll take your lunch. Changing outfits after work each day, taking a walk or drive before and after working hours, or even ensuring you shower each morning before starting work can help set clear boundaries for the day, and help you detach and recharge when not working.
A run, walk, or trip to the gym has obvious physical benefits, but daily exercise can also have a significant impact on your mental health. Exercise reduces stress, eases symptoms of depression, and improves your thinking, learning, and judgement. Find a way each day to exercise — all the better if it’s outside in the fresh air.
Working from home can have many upsides, but ignoring the challenges it creates for mental health can make it difficult to manage. Embracing a work-from-home arrangement as a way to not only be safely productive, but to improve your own mental health, can help you get the most out of each workday.