How to protect your mental health when working remotely?

Having a clear desk is a boost to your mental health and productivity with no to minimal effort.

How to protect your mental health when working remotely?

Your reaction when you are put up in a position to select one between two things decides if you are a decisive or an indecisive person. Many of you will come forward and give this condition different names such as - “It is my overthinking”, “I am a nice person”, “I just take time to decide”, “I am a rational thinker”, and whatnot.

Believe me, it’s not that, it simply means you have poor boundaries and I observed that while I was working from home.

  • I couldn’t say no to my manager for the work that was assigned to me after my working hours - I messed up my health because of overload.
  • I couldn’t say no to my family even when I had a deadline over my head - I worked during the night.
  • I couldn’t ask my manager for the necessary break - Unfortunately, fell sick and had to take a break.

But why? Because I had poor boundaries.

There was a time when I decided to quit and gave myself a one-week deadline to either get on the right track or wrap up the mess by escaping. I was under a lot of mental burdens and for the whole month, I was overwhelmed with the work and pressure from both my family and organization.

I did not quit, don’t worry. What I did is -

  • I drank one full glass of water - Believe me, water solves like 85% of the problems, any time you feel overwhelmed, or anxious, just go and drink water, you’ll feel a little better if not your best.
  • I slept like a log - Sleeping peacefully is the goal and if a small decision gives you the power to sleep peacefully, then take that decision, my friend, please don’t do anything illegal, I have heard jail doesn’t let you sleep peacefully, your choice though.
  • I cleaned my cupboard and desk - It is a very important step to sort out your life and makes your mom happy too.

Adjusting to the right work routine means setting up the right boundaries and that’s what I did.

But how does mental health get affected in the first place?

Hiring - Remotely?

Career is one of the top reasons associated with worse mental health. From the senior year of college to getting the wanted placement itself is a journey that teaches lessons for life and a good percentage of students suffer from mental health issues but it got worse because of the online set-up.

  • The confidence is low because of isolation.

Recently graduates or even working employees go through the phase of overthinking before an online interview.

  • Technology hiccups - What if wifi doesn’t work smoothly, what if the laptop stops working, etc?
  • Humans tend to feel good in a room full of humans. That’s why seeing people around automatically gives a push.
  • Last but not least, after continuous rounds of online meetings, I’ve not met any individual who likes meetings.
  • Even the hiring manager complains most about it - they can’t understand how a potential employee is, how sincere they are, etc.

But all these are the challenges that one faces after getting an interview. Getting an interview is itself a task that gets super stressful, however, Akash has talked about why we struggle at the beginning of any task (process) - keep going is the solution.

Let’s understand how remote working is different from the offline setup.

Mental Health & Remote Working - Right Combination?

Covid made work from home a new normal. While everyone was relaxed in the beginning, there were various after-effects that we all saw and one of them was the increased number of cases of mental health-related issues. Let’s see how working from home has affected the whole system.

Challenges for the remote workers:

  1. Burnout - Since we are working from home, there are no working hours per se which leads to managers giving work even after working hours. Not saying no and proving to managers that we are working have become primary reasons for burnout.
  2. Unplugging after work - This is mostly seen when you are leading a project and always thinking of a way to solve that particular problem, you don’t particularly know how to switch off the brain while being on a break. It has its advantages but the disadvantages are harming your ability to be productive during working hours.
  3. Collaborating/or communication - Communication becomes a problem when a few team members are working on the same project but are not available at the same time. It gets frustrating and make pressure on everyone.
  4. Distractions at Home - From family members disturbing the smallest task to using mobile during work hours can disturb the whole workflow leading no to fewer tasks done meaning an overflowing to-do list.
  5. Staying Motivated - Getting into a monotonous lifestyle can be a little boring and lonely. Not being able to have a fun chit-chat with team members can lead to a feeling of loneliness and demotivation.
  6. Taking vacation time - Because you are working remotely, it feels weird to take a vacation.

These all lead to stressful life which becomes an obstacle to a healthy working and personal life.

But, there are a few things that one can do to protect their mental health such as:

  1. Set clear boundaries - Tell your boss the amount of work you are doing and be upfront about the working hours. Tell your family about the significance of your work.
  2. Learn to say NO - Say No to your family and your manager whenever needed. Don’t overload your to-do list with the tasks that don’t come under your work of scope.
  3. Get connected with your team members - Set up a fun meeting with team members and talk about anything but work. Get to know each other.
  4. Be strict with your schedule - Manage a to-do list and stick to it.
  5. Be strict on breaks - Once your working hours are over, minimize replying to texts or emails.
  6. Set up a workspace - It will help you to relax in other places in your home. Your home won’t feel like an office.
  7. Go out with your family and friends - Take a good amount of time to get connected with family and friends to protect your mental health. Outings are one of the stress relievers.
  8. Take time to exercise - Go for a walk, run or do any kind of exercise. Do it in the morning to get sunshine, it’ll automatically turn up your mood and will keep you physically fit.
  9. Choose a hobby - Make time for some activity to give yourself “me-time”. It’s very important to charge up your social energy.

Taking care of mental health gets easier with the above-mentioned steps, once you learn how to manage the whole system. What one needs to understand is that it’s not one-day work, one needs to make it a habit and rebalance the whole system weekly/monthly to get the most out of it.

Career stress turns into a mental health-related issue before even one can comprehend what is happening. That’s why everyone needs to understand - it’s okay to take a break.

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