For those who have been working at home for years, managing stress may not very difficult. However, many people who traditionally work in an office or other location are now being tasked with managing work from home. There is a big difference between working in an office setting and trying to get your job done from the comfort of your own home.
Managing Work From Home Stressor
On the surface, it may seem like skipping the early morning hours, the hectic commute, and even the need to wear a suit would help lower stress levels. While this may be true to an extent, there are a different set of challenges that managing work from home offers.
The Stress Of Working In The Home Environment
The Covid-19 pandemic has infused the world with a constant source of fear, anxiety, and stress. These stressors are further compounded when a person is confined to their home. Being separated from friends and colleagues while still trying to carry on, as usual, is no small feat.
One of the main stressors of working from home is the need to be always “on’ or working. In the traditional corporate world, a person would only need to be active and present for a set number of hours. Your day starts when you go to the office in the morning, and ends when you clock out at the end of your scheduled shift. This allowed for a clear boundary line between work time and downtime that would give workers a chance to de-stress each day.
With most people now working from home, these lines have become blurred. Most people remain accessible from their office by technology and other means. There is no real line between what is considered dedicated work time and dedicated time just for the family. When paired with the inability to travel and seek out solace in leisure activities, the level of stress and anxiety most remote workers feel has reached a boiling point.
Social Factors That Increase The Stress of Working At Home
Working outside of a professional environment is only part of the problem. Depending on who lives in the home, there could be social issues that add more pressure during the workday. People who live alone are able to be more productive even though they are working from home due to fewer distractions. Remote workers who have a spouse are slightly less productive. Homes that have children, elderly people, and pets are the least productive.
Home is meant for social interaction and just living in general. The office environment is free of distractions to help improve productivity. Many people have to battle with the regular activities of home and even their children’s online classes in addition to work. This can not only lower productivity, but it also tends to add a higher percentage of stress throughout the day. While all these factors may decrease productivity and increase stress levels, there are ways that you can manage stress even while working from home.
Managing Stress In The Work From Home Environment
For those who are new to working from home, time management and setting boundaries are the biggest issues. Even people who have worked from home for years will often struggle with managing their day. The new Covid-19 restrictions have made it harder for everyone. One of the first steps to managing stress levels while working at home is by setting clear work times and boundaries. Having a set time for work and a separate time for personal use will help you increase productivity and reduce stress.
Don’t Work Excessively
When there is no clear line of when the workday ends it can be easy to overwork yourself. There is also a feeling that you have to work harder or longer just because you are not in the office. However, this is actually counterproductive. Think about your regular workday and the usual amount of work you would complete during the day. Even if you try to work slightly longer or slightly shorter hours, try to maintain your regular workload but no more. If possible, keep your weekend and evening activities the same as they were before you started working from home. This will help you to mentally unpack after a day of working, even though you never left the house.
Reduce Stress With Clear Boundaries
Working in an office environment allows you to take periodic mental breaks. Walking to the bathroom, going to get a cup of coffee, chatting with co-workers, and even your lunch break all add up to a nice chunk of stress-free time during the workday. These breaks give your brain a chance to recharge and release the stress that builds up during the workday. Working from home does not have these breaks built-in, so it is important to create them on your own to help manage stress levels.
Schedule Time Away From The Screen
Being that most people are working from home, that also means there is an increase in how much time is being spent facing a screen. This may be due to Zoom meetings, skype calls, working online, or any other number of tasks. It is important to take a step back from the screen. Try focusing on other things for at least a couple of hours each day. Take a walk outside, sit on your porch, have a drink outside on the deck. You may also just lay down and think about anything but touching a computer, phone, or television. Consider running errands, just make sure that you maintain all social distancing rules in the process.
Take A Break From The News
It is important to stay up to date on what’s happening in the world. On the other hand, too much information can also increase your stress levels. While actively working, avoid surfing the internet for news updates and trending information. This will help you maintain your focus, increase your productivity, and also better manage your stress levels. Dedicate an hour or so at a set time during the day to check for the latest news.
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