Here’s how to look after your mental health while working from home

The unprecedented nature of the last few months has paved the way for the spread of misinformation, confusing government guidelines, and drastically limited freedoms.

The uncertainty surrounding the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, tied to the fact that a large portion of the UK workforce are now working from home, has certainly taken its toll on many people’s mental health.

So if you have found yourself struggling while working from home lately, we’ve got a few tips on how to practice some much needed self care.

Go to bed on time

Maintaining a regular sleep schedule does wonders for your mental health.

Since we have collectively done away with the daily commute, there may be more of an opportunity to get an extra few minutes - or even hours - of sleep a night.

However, while you can technically start work from your sofa, or even from your bed, it may be tempting to give bedtimes a miss.

Yet, without a good night's rest, you can become more easily irritable, and it can heavily influence your outlook on life, along with your energy levels and motivation.

All of these are not just essential for doing your best at work, but more importantly for having a happy life.

Adults are recommended to get at least seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a night. So, if you find yourself struggling to motivate yourself while at work, or just want a positivity boost, hit the sack early.

Get dressed

Similarly, if you know you don't have to commute, or meet with coworkers, it can be tempting to skip getting changed in the morning.

But keeping to your normal pre-lockdown routine is an important part of feeling like yourself.

While it can be freeing to reject restrictive office clothes once in a while, consistently working in pyjamas, may not help you feel ready to take on professional responsibilities. In the main, it might be best to dress to impress, even if it’s just for your own benefit.

Exercise regularly

What is good for the mind tends to start with the body. Exercise has well-known benefits to not just physical health, but also mental health.

Regular exercise can help you maintain a positive disposition, by releasing endorphins, which relieve pain and stress.

Under current government guidelines, you can exercise as many times as you like each day, so long as you remain two metres apart from others.

Eat healthy

The phrase ‘you are what you eat’, tends to ring true.

Not so much in the sense that you are last nights’ lasagne, but, rather, if you eat unhealthy food, you will feel unhealthy, too.

Foods high in saturated fats and salt, and low in fibre, can cause you to become lethargic and unmotivated. Such food also affects your mood, memory, and emotions, causing you to feel more anxious and irritable.

So, by all means, treat yourself to a takeaway on occasion, but try to avoid it becoming a habit if you want to wake up feeling ready to take on the day.

Drink lots of water

Drinking water helps to maintain a clearer mind.

When you are dehydrated your body has to work a lot harder to fulfil its functions. This stresses not just your body but your mind, making you more sluggish and anxious.

Try keeping a large bottle of water next to you as you work, to make it as easy as possible to stay hydrated, and to keep an eye on how much you have drank throughout the day.

The NHS recommends that you should be drinking around six to eight glasses, or about 1.2 litres of water a day.

Work in a well-ventilated room

Fresh air has many benefits for your physical and mental health. Not only does it help decrease the survival of bacteria and viruses in the air of the room you are working in, it also helps to prevent fatigue and irritability.

Take regular breaks

In addition to working in a well ventilated room, you can get some much needed fresh air during lockdown by taking regular breaks.

Regular breaks from your work also help reduce stress and help increase concentration.

Speak to your manager

Even if you don't have the closest relationship with your manager, it's definitely better to be honest with them if you are struggling.

If lockdown and home working has made it harder for you to maintain the same standard of work they are used to, there's no need to keep such concerns to yourself.

They are human after all, and are likely to have their own stresses and tough days - especially in a global pandemic.

Managers are there to help you at work and ensure you can do your job to the best of your ability. Any good manager will be understanding of the days when you’re not feeling your best self.

Listen to uplifting music

It is well known that happy, relaxing and positive music is a mood booster.

Music can help to boost your mood and motivation by triggering positive emotions and past memories of listening to the song.

If you feel like you are stuck in a bit of a rut as the days in lockdown blur into one, try shaking things up with a good old sing-along at your desk. Just make sure you have definitely left that conference call beforehand.

Be forgiving

Try to be kind to yourself. This is, understandably, a tough time for many people, and you're not alone in your struggles.

Being forgiving towards yourself for any self-perceived flaws has been proven to improve your self image and boost self confidence. Self-forgiveness has also been linked to much lower levels of depression and anxiety.

If you haven't been feeling your best, treat yourself as you would a friend, and go easy on yourself.