The pandemic has led to many changes in our daily lives. For many office workers, it has meant switching from going into the office every day to working from home 100% of the time. This has eliminated a lot of social interaction with co-workers and having a distinct divide between the office and home life. This begs the question: Are these changes taking a toll on our mental health?
Pre-pandemic life for office workers looked a lot different. Get up, get ready, commute however many minutes (or dare we say hours for some), work in the office alongside co-workers and commute home. Once you left the office, it felt like you were turning work off for the day. Of course, with constant access to email and technology, work may never have felt completely "off" for some, but at least there was somewhat more of a distinction between the two worlds.
Now, those who are full-time remote workers essentially wake up in their office. And that means a lot fewer work boundaries for some. This can cause longer working hours since you are always in your "office" — available to take a call from early in the morning, to late at night. After all, if you're home, you feel like you can make yourself available for whatever comes along. It adds stress raises the risk of becoming overworked.
With these different factors to consider, it's important now more than ever to prioritize mental health. Here are some tips to help reduce stress and set healthy boundaries during this tough time.
Set a Time to Start and End Work
Just as if you were going into the office, it's a good idea to assign designated work hours so you don't end up getting caught answering emails instead of spending quality time with your family. Agree to not mentally check into work until maybe 8:30 a.m., take an hour lunch at noon, and log off for the day by 5:30 p.m. or 6 p.m.. Having these set times makes it easier to establish boundaries that promote mental wellness.
Take a Day Off
Even if you aren't hopping aboard a plane to go on that vacation you had planned, it's still important to take downtime.
Some employees feel that there is no need to take off when they are already working from home and they have no travel plans for the foreseeable future. But a day off can allow you some time to yourself and let you unplug from some of the daily stresses of life. Use this time to do some self-care. Investing in yourself can help you show up better for work and your family.
Prioritize Social Interactions
Whether it's meeting a friend for lunch or setting time in the morning to have virtual coffee with a coworker, implementing ways to interact socially during the day can help lessen feelings of isolation. While it may seem inconvenient at times to make that investment, you're likely to leave feeling more socially connected.
If you don't want to see people physically, there are tons of virtual events going on. From live-streamed cooking classes to virtual travel talks of different countries to virtual meetups, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Do Something You Love
Even though you may be home more than ever before, that doesn't mean you are necessarily taking time for yourself — especially for those with small children. Make time to do something that you enjoy or that relaxes you. This can mean anything from going for a walk, reading a book or sitting in meditation.
Prioritizing physical health can, in turn, lead to mental health benefits. As you may not be walking as much due to a lack of commute and travel, it could be a good idea to set up a workout routine to keep moving. That doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to the gym. There are plenty of online and virtual options that involve little to no equipment. Find something that is sustainable and works for your lifestyle.
Many people are still working on getting adjusted to this new normal, the one that doesn't involve going into the office. With work and home life blurred together and the lack of daily social interactions, stress levels can feel high. That's why it's so important to take some time to support your mental health within your every day life.
Dr. John Tantillo is a marketing and branding expert, known as The Marketing Doctor. JT utilizes his doctoral skills in applied research psychology to analyze the issues and personalities of the day utilizing his marketing and branding lens. This provides his readers with additional insight needed to understand the "new normal" in politics, news, and culture. Dr. Tantillo is the OpEd writer for Political Vanguard. He is the author of "People Buy Brands, Not Companies," and the Udemy course "Go Brand Yourself!" Dr. Tantillo is also the host of the popular podcast BrandTalkk, another way to talk heard and seen on YouTube.You can follow him on Twitter @marketingdoctor and at Facebook.com/dr.johntantillo. Read Dr. John Tantillo's Reports — More Here.
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