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  • Writer's pictureMelissa-Mae Horner

Managing Your Mental Health in the Remote Workplace

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

Mental health has been in the spotlight over the last few years with discussions around fighting the social stigma for people dealing with issues, encouraging those experiencing problems to open up to those around them to get the support they need. Statistics from mental health charity MIND show that at least 1 in 4 people in England will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year. Whether that person is you or someone you know, it is vital we educate ourselves on some steps we can take to help empower us and others when it comes to looking after our mental health.

In recent years with changing work environments, many of us are now based at home full-time. Whilst businesses move towards remote working and flexible hours, which can help with our busy personal lives, the impact of losing out on social engagement in the office can leave some feeling isolated. As we shift into this new working paradigm, we must make some simple adjustments to our daily habits to ensure we are looking after ourselves well whilst at home.

Here are some well-being tips to think about to manage your mental health in the remote workplace: 1. Daily Routine Long forgotten are the hours spent commuting to the office during rush hour which may hopefully mean a little bit longer in bed in the morning! With no dress code to adhere to you may be tempted to stay in pyjamas all day! However, to better deal with outside stresses, it is crucial we keep some structure to our day. Getting washed and dressed after we wake up can form part of a simple and achievable daily routine to get you in the right mindset for the day ahead. Some interesting research also shows workers are more productive and engaged when dressed how they want to at home. So wear something comfortable that makes you feel good! 2. Working Environment Whilst not all of us have access to a private room for work away from the rest of home life, we can designate a separate space and set it up with everything we need to mimic a normal day in the office. It’s no secret that the sun helps us to perk up and so if you have access to a window, setting up your workspace to be near natural light will really help keep you feeling refreshed throughout the day. You could also think about setting up two spaces and alternate between them depending on the time of day, which might come in handy when thinking about lighting. You could consider if you need a desk lamp when working at your computer so you aren’t straining your eyes. Some people find music also helps to get them into a productive flow, whereas others prefer peace and quiet. If your home environment proves to be too noisy or you need a change of scenery, you may also want to think about suitable working environments close to you such as a café or coworking space. Wherever you find suits you best, ensure you talk to your employer to get the tech you need to be able to perform your job properly. 3. Regular Breaks It is easy for us to get caught up in urgent tasks and before we know it, we’ve skipped lunch and the sun is already setting! It can also be harder to get outside when the weather isn’t good. Getting caught up in this cycle can be damaging for our mental health and so it is important we make an effort to manage our time efficiently. Taking regular breaks from screentime gives you a chance to rejuvenate your mind. Every hour try to stand up and step away from your desk, have a stretch or go and make yourself a glass of water. If you find yourself in a funk, rather than push through, it might be better to take a longer break and come back to what you were doing with a fresh mindset. If you often tend to struggle with time management or feel swamped with a vast workload, the Pomodoro Technique could be beneficial. This involves breaking down tasks into 25-minute digestible chunks, then breaking for 5 mins and repeating this cycle 4 times. Once you have completed an hour of work you are then able to take a longer 15-30 min break and can keep this pattern going throughout the day to keep your productivity level high. Remind yourself of how much better and clearer your mind is after getting outside and breathing fresh air. 4. Finding Balance Living in the same area as you are working can prove challenging in finding a good work-life balance. We could picture our mental health as a spirit level, and when one end is heavier it can throw everything else off kilter, leading us to feel out of control and overwhelmed. Introducing some boundaries around our personal and working lives can help us feel more in order. If you share your home with others, you may need to implement some boundaries around your designated work area to ensure this is kept private and quiet, so you are not distracted and can keep focused. You may also want to define your working hours and be disciplined in keeping to them. Writing a realistic to-do list and highlighting priorities can help maintain motivation. Outside of working hours and at the weekends pour your time into self-care, whether this be with a hobby you enjoy, catching up with friends or simply going for a walk and being out in nature will help you connect to yourself and what makes you happy. 5. Reaching Out If you feel yourself struggling or as if your mental health has taken a dip, be sure to reach out to those around you. At Premier IT we have two Mental Health First Aiders available for staff to approach for support and signposting to appropriate services. If your employer does not currently have clear help offered for mental health, it may be worth asking about to improve this. Fostering an open and non-judgmental space for conversations about mental health is fundamental for all, from businesses to individuals. Keeping active communication between your colleagues and teams will help you stay in the loop about what is happening at work, along with making time to chat to people about non-work-related things. Booking time in your diary for regular team or company meetings will also help build a sense of community and camaraderie amongst workers. At Premier IT we have introduced monthly quizzes hosted by individual employees including some information and history about the places they live. This has been great fun to get to know each other a little better and bring some lightness to our weeks over winter. Working from home may come with it’s perks and challenges, but finding an approach that works for you will give you the balance you need. Just remember to speak out when you need to and ask for support from friends, colleagues and managers. For further helpful resources, please follow the links below: Supporting your mental health while working from home Remote working tips for parents How line managers can support their teams

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