A few years ago, the three terms that make up the title of this blog post – Working from Home, Pandemic and Mental Health – put together would seem arbitrary. However, in 2020, it’s the new norm.
Working from home is essential to us, the pandemic is inevitable and our mental health? Well let’s just say, it has seen better days.
This post is not just here to tell you that it’s okay to feel a certain bleak way in such dire times and that the feeling is shared by many , but it’s also here to tell you that as human beings we are contrived to feel this way.
As Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a social animal”. With the pandemic abruptly putting a stop on our social lives, the term work-life balance sounds implausible. Feeling depressed, anxious, lonely, frustrated, stressed etc is normal and expected. As we continue to work from home and accept the external changes and that this is going to be a way of life for quite some time, we also need to make mental health our top priority now more than ever. Working is vital but so is taking care of your mental health.
Following are a few ways to take care of your mental health while you are at it :
Sync with your internal clock
Your body has a 24 hour biological clock housed deep within your brain. A way to be most productive while not burning yourself out is to sync your daily schedule with your internal clock. Understanding your internal clock will also help you sleep better and be active during the day. Working from home has altered our bedtime and wake up time, thus leaving our internal clock confused. Sleeping and waking up at a different time each day, further confuses the clock. You should follow the same schedule all seven days of the week.
You are what you eat ! Your diet has a strong influence on your mood. For instance, a high sugar breakfast will result in a sugar rush, giving you instant energy for some time and leaving you tired for the latter half of the day. Working from home shouldn’t be an excuse to binge eat or eat at irregular times. Follow the same schedule you had on a regular day at work. Watch what you snack on – choose healthier snacks.
Take some time off for yourself. Listen to your thoughts, indulge in a hobby that brings you peace like gardening, reading, cooking, singing etc. Try to keep away from electronic devices and connect with nature.
Take a break
As Ann Lammot said , “almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… Including you”. Take a short break. Go for a walk or listen to some music, have some matcha tea or do some breathing exercises. Tiny breaks ease your body and reboot your brain. They can improve productivity and help you concentrate better.
Talk to a friend
Don’t bottle your feelings up ! This is an advice we’ve all heard one too many times and although it feels simple, we still hold ourselves back. We think about being judged or being considered weak, or think that no one will understand us etc. Talking to someone doesn’t have to result in the resolution of your problem. Talking leads to a catharsis, which is a feeling of relief. Expressing how you feel may also help you gain some insight and process how you feel. You can also talk to a professional. Therapy is for everyone not just for people with severe problems.
Working from home has eliminated the need for you to commute to your workplace or moving around within office. You might have also stopped going to the gym or the yoga class due to the pandemic scare. All of this resulting in inactivity. Exercise enhances your well being, both physical and mental by releasing endorphins. It also helps regulate your sleep patterns. There are plenty of exercises one can do at home. Yoga , Pilates, Stretching etc are relaxing exercises that can also be done before bedtime.
Shut down before bedtime. Stay away from screens. Avoid caffeine close to bedtime. Do not revisit stressful thoughts while you lay awake. Do not think about unfinished work. Follow an unwinding routine to prepare yourself for bedtime. While it’s said that 8 hours of sleep is essential for your overall well being, sleep needs vary from person to person and generally range between 7-9 hours. If you get enough sleep and still don’t feel well rested you might want to check that internal clock.
Your mental health can only be affected by something if you let it. While there are a number of tips and tricks to reduce stress, you know yourself the best. You know what you are going through and therefore what works best for you. These are tough times and the world is facing it together, it’s not just okay, it’s normal and expected to feel overwhelmed and it will pass just like every other phase of life. You will survive with a story to tell !!