In 2019, a study showed that 55% of working Americans experience stress weekly. We can guarantee that number has increased over the last three years with the unprecedented times (I’m bringing it back) we’ve seen. So, how do you deal with stress caused in the workplace? And how can you limit that in the future? Whether you’re working from home or in the office, there are answers and ways to cope.
Many of us have gotten used to remote work, but some are still adjusting. Here are my three essential tips to ensure your WFH space doesn’t take over your life.
- Work in a separate room or space whenever possible. You must create a separation between your personal and professional life. We know that can be hard when you work where you live, but finding a section of your home that you only use from 9-5 is crucial in maintaining that balance.
- Take breaks. Many people feel guilty about taking a break when they work from home, almost like they’re trying to prove that they are still working. Don’t listen to that voice in your head! You took a break at the office, didn’t you? Make sure those same rules apply when working from home. Your brain and body need a break to stay efficient and productive. Go for a walk around your neighborhood or switch a load of laundry – breaks at home can be much more productive than scrolling through your phone as you did at the office.
- Stick to a schedule. Many people like working from home because there is more flexibility. While that is true, it’s important to stick to a schedule. Don’t start work at 7 am one day, 10 am the next, and 9 am the following day. Suppose you work out in the morning, great. Get your workout in, and then start your workday. If you’d prefer to start work early and end early, wonderful. Do this every day. The more you switch up your routine, the harder it will be to get to work, especially when it’s upstairs or in your guest room.
Create a plan that works for you, and follow it every day. You’ll find that this helps you get more done during work hours and allows for either productivity or relaxation when you’re done.
If you’re working in an office again, take advantage of those perks.
- Stick to your schedule. Like the last WFH tip, it’s important to stick to a schedule. It’s easier to get into a routine when you physically drive to an office every day, but it’s still something of which you should be mindful. Wake up at the same time each morning, have your coffee and breakfast, and head out the door. The more consistent you are, the more productive of a day you will have.
- Have open communication. Many companies have named poor communication as the number one downside of remote work; it’s also a significant point of stress. Without proper communication, tasks are missed, projects are unfinished, and balls are dropped. If you are lucky enough to be able to pop into a coworker’s office for a quick question or conversation, do it! It’s easier to hash things out when they come up than to wait for a team Zoom or client call.
- Shut off after work. Like the at-home tip, make sure you separate your personal and professional life. When working at an office, it’s easier to create separation as you drive home. Just remember, don’t call your spouse or mom and go through every detail of your day on the way home; leave it at the office and return to it the next day. Your personal life and mental health will thank you.
Honestly, these tips are pretty basic, but they’re so important. To do your best work and live your best life, you must be able to separate your personal and professional life and feel satisfied in both. So take a few minutes and think about your daily routine, whether you work from home or in an office. Do you separate your home and work life? Do you take appropriate breaks to continue creating your best work? Do you have a way to unwind when your 9 – 5 is over? These questions are crucial in limiting workplace stress and ensuring that the two don’t carry over and consume your life.
I read a meme once that said, “When I’m at work, I think about everything wrong at home. When I’m at home, I think about everything wrong at work. So, yes, I am always 100% stressed and anxious.” I laughed at this when I saw it, and then I realized I was laughing at it because I relate to it. I decided then to create the separation: think about work while I’m working, and think about my personal life while I’m at home. This small change in mindset has done wonders for my mental health, and I have been more productive throughout my workday.
During Stress Awareness Month, I urge you to determine what your main stressors are and what small daily changes you can make to limit or eliminate them. You have one life; make sure you live it the best way possible.