May 11, 2017

How to work from home without going crazy

How to work from home without going crazy


A satire article recently published in The New Yorker titled “I Work From Home” went viral for the scarily accurate way it depicted the daily struggles of remote workers.

Freelancers, telecommuters and those who run their business from a home office could clearly relate to the jokes about not interacting with anyone except the postman, procrastinating with pointless tasks, and eating everything in the fridge.

But the impacts of working from home on mental health are no joke. Recent research published by the United Nations International Labour Organisation found remote workers reported higher rates of stress and insomnia than office-based workers, and another study claimed the lack of social interaction that can result from working from home can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or not exercising.

“Social support and connection are powerful buffers against stress, anxiety and depression,” health psychologist Dr Lauren Hamilton tells Coach.

“So if you work from home you might be missing out on those important social interactions that help to alleviate stress, and may increase your chance of experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, especially when your inner critic is giving you a hard time.”

As the location-independent work trend continues, co-working spaces – where you pay a fee to work in a shared office – are popping up in cities around Australia and the world, providing remote workers with social interaction (and a reason to put on pants). But what if there isn’t one near you, or it’s not in your budget?

Get your routine right

According to Dr A.J. Marsden, assistant professor of human services and psychology at America’s Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, you need to separate work from home as much as you can, and be strict about it.

“Designate a specific room of your house as a workspace, and only conduct your work in that place,” Dr Marsden advises. That means definitely no working from bed.

If you don’t have a room to use as a home office, have some daily rituals to signal to your brain it’s time to work, and likewise switch off when the workday is over.

“Grab a takeaway coffee or juice from a cafe every morning. When you walk back in the door, you are ‘at work’”, says Dr Marsden. “Another daily ritual that helps some people is to get dressed as if going into an office – no pajamas or track pants.”

As for helping your brain to shut off from work for the day, exercise and meditation are obvious choices, or there are other ways to “trick” your brain into changing gear.

“Change your clothing, go for a drive, or shut down your computer,” Dr Marsden says. “Whatever the ritual, do it every day so it conditions your brain to switch over into rest mode.”

To help your brain wind down from the day and prepare for bed, you could also try the technique Coach recently tested to help you nod off faster and sleep deeper.

Schedule socialising

Dr Hamilton says overcoming social isolation is key to staying sane when you work from home. Schedule meals, workouts or even life admin tasks like going to the bank, supermarket or post office with friends or anyone you know nearby.

“No matter how busy you are, making sure that you create enough social time in your week is vital – whatever ‘enough’ means to you”. It might be every day or just a couple of times a week, depending on your individual needs.

Sometimes when you’ve received a snarky email, all it takes is another person to point out that a) you’re reading too much into it or b) it’s not worth losing sleep over.

You might think you can achieve more working from home than in an office, since you don’t have a commute or team meetings chewing up time. But Dr Hamilton points out that putting too much pressure on yourself doesn’t create a happy mindset, and therefore a productive and effective person.

“The best way to make sure your self-esteem remains high while working from home is to set realistic and meaningful goals that build a sense of achievement and progress,” she says.

And don’t beat yourself up for scrolling Facebook, sneaking in some TV or finishing up early occasionally. There has to be some benefit to working from home, right?

Original source: http://coach.nine.com.au/2017/05/03/09/40/work-from-home

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