WFH Tips for Mental Health Awareness MonthMay 16, 2023
Written by: Hannah Luera
It’s officially Spring. The weather is trending warmer, the birds are louder and busier than ever, and the daylight is increasing.
Shouldn’t we all be in a great mood?
Unfortunately, your mental state depends on many more factors than the amount of sunshine and warm weather you experience (although those two things certainly don’t hurt). According to the Anxiety & Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors and are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults every year.
If you work from home, the lack of a work-life balance and boundaries in general may be to blame for a heightened sense of anxiety. And I should know – I’ve been a remote worker for five years (yes, that was BEFORE the pandemic made it popular).
In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I’m sharing some tips that have helped me achieve a better work-life balance while working from home.
Watch for Industry-Specific Woes.
In the public relations industry – specifically, social media management, which is my wheelhouse – it’s tough to unplug, regardless of whether you work from home or in the office. Replying to Instagram DMs and monitoring for negative comments doesn’t only occur from 9-5. It’s important to be responsive, but for the sake of boundaries and your sanity, set aside a specific time outside of work hours that you’ll check and respond to these messages.
Check Your Classical Conditioning.
This may sound extremely insignificant but once I learned how to turn off my phone’s notification sound that alerts me to a new email, my work-life balance shifted significantly – in a good way. Much like Pavlov’s dog, I was classically conditioned to pick up my phone for every “ding” that alerted me to a new email – even if I was taking a much-needed lunch break. Without these email notifications, I immediately started checking my phone less and realized that if it were a true emergency, I would receive a follow-up phone call or text from a client or coworker. Otherwise, the email could wait until I was back at my computer.
Set Aside Time to do Nothing. Literally.
If you work from home, you don’t have colleagues to engage in cooler talk, stop by your office, go grab lunch, etc. That means you’re likely working without a break unless you make the conscious decision to do so.
But what can you do to decompress when you’re literally working by yourself?
Hear me out. I recently started reading a book, Niksen: Embracing the Dutch Art of Doing Nothing by Olga Mecking. Self-admittedly, I’m terrible at doing nothing – and, after reading this book, it is harder than I thought to literally do nothing. But, by the end of the book, I realized the importance of it.
Initially, I assumed “doing nothing” meant to scroll through your phone or watch TV. But the author explains that “nothing” means, “to make a conscious choice to sit back, let go, and do nothing at all.” You can watch the clouds go by or study the pattern of your carpeting, but anything more than that is “something.” Be kind to your mind and give yourself a well-deserved mental break.