Insights for Remote Professionals

Remote Work and Mental Health: How to Stay Positive When Working Remotely

Cedric Jackson

June 24, 2021

Remote work has plenty of benefits for both employees and employers.

It can boost productivity. It eliminates the commute. It can save both employees and employers money. But there are also some potential downsides to remote work.

The biggest downside is remote work's affect on mental health.

For most people, remote work is still new. So there's a transition period where we're learning to adjust to the new normal social life.

Between a poor work-life balance and feelings of isolation, anxiety can surface often. The good news is that you can prevent these issues and stay positive with a few simple tips. 

Create a Work-life Balance

Many of the methods of staying positive when working remotely come down to maintaining a work-life balance.

This balance is incredibly important. It prevents you from thinking about work all the time and getting stressed. It also helps you stay focused while working.

There are several tips to help you with this balance. 

Set a Structure or Schedule

Most people will find it easier to separate work and life by creating a schedule.

Think of this as structuring your day like you would if you went to work. Have a start time and an end time. Don’t forget to include breaks. 

The idea is simple. By clearly defining your start and stop time for work, you prevent yourself from overworking.

For this to work, though, you need to stick to the schedule.

Let your coworkers know you are unavailable after a certain time. Block off times in your calendar.

Don’t respond to emails until the following day. Don’t do that “one quick task.”

Honor your weekends, and don't forget to take vacation days.

Separate Your Work and Personal Spaces

One of the best ways to separate your work from home life is to do so physically.

If you have enough space in your home, set up a designated office space. This can be an entire room.

If you don’t have a room, dedicate a corner of a room. Set up a desk and chair. Don’t sit there when you are not working.

If space is still tight, you can separate your spaces using lighting.

LED lights are great for this as you can have one configuration for work (ie: shades of blue) and another configuration for your personal space (ie: shades of red).

You will hopefully associate this spot with work. It will help you stay focused and alert. It will also make it feel odd to do work in other areas. That should reduce the risk of you putting in too much overtime. 

Give Yourself Other Physical Cues

Don’t just rely on the schedule and being in your home office. Give yourself other cues to help you separate work and life.

One example would be to change into “work clothes” while working. These don’t even have to be office-friendly clothes. As long as you change your clothes before and after work, it will help you separate work and leisure.

You can even just have sweatpants in two different colors. Or maybe have separate water bottles or mugs you use while working and during breaks. 

Stay Connected With Your Team

The feeling of isolation is the other major mental health concern for remote workers. Technology can help you address this.

It can be as simple as scheduling phone meetings or video calls with your manager and coworkers. 

Include work-related video calls as well. You can also use social video calls, but make sure they are optional.

Some people don’t have the mental energy for “fun” video calls after a long day of work calls. 

Stay Connected With Your Friends

If you don’t like connecting with your coworkers for fun, make it a point to stay connected with friends. Ensure you maintain some human interaction. This can be in-person or virtual, depending on your situation. 

Get Off Technology for a Bit

It can be incredibly tempting to be on technology all day long.

This is especially true if you hang out with friends virtually after work. Or if your entertainment is digital. But doing so can strain your mental health. You can even use a digital detox to separate work and home. 

Go for a walk between work and preparing dinner. Read a book. Play a game with your family. Take up a craft. There are plenty of options. 

Get Outside

When you take your tech detox, take the opportunity to go outside.

Being outside and enjoying the fresh air can do wonders for your mental health. This is especially true if you have been cooped up inside all day.

Even something as simple as walking around the block can make a difference. 

Care for Your Physical Health As Well

Taking care of your physical well-being can also help your mental well-being.

If you are healthy, you will have one less thing to worry about. As such, follow the basic tips that experts always give to stay healthy. 

Try to get in some exercise at least several times a week.

This can be as simple as going for a walk during your lunch break, or it can be more intense.

Or you can get a treadmill at your desk so you can walk or jog while working.

Get yourself nourishing meals and opt for healthier snacks instead of highly processed options. Make sure you drink enough water and stay hydrated.

It's Possible to Be Highly Motivated While Remote

By trying these different strategies, you will be able to find which ones work best for you.

And eventually, this will make you even more motivated than you were when you were working in the office.

You get all the benefits of remote work while still getting your social and personal needs met.

Best of luck in your journey and let us know how it goes!

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