We reached out to our readers for advice on staying happy and healthy while working from home. Here’s what we learned.
Something that has become increasingly clear as I’ve been settling into working from home is that people are there to support one another on this journey. It almost seems poetic that we’ve closed ranks to a great extent while being required to physically distance ourselves as much as possible.
I have seen people sharing advice, resources and lots of time and energy to help others, all of which has absolutely made the past few weeks easier for me.
In light of that, I wanted to reach out to our readers and hear some of their tried-and-tested tips for staying positive and mentally healthy as they continue to work from home.
1. Dance in your kitchen
Sci-tech journalist Marie Boran recommends giving yourself an energy boost by taking a dance break from your work.
It’s hard to stay motivated when working alone from home. When you get distracted or fidgety, get up from your desk/kitchen table, play C’est La Vie by Khaled & dance like no-one is watching. Instant energy boost! (Yes I have done this and it’s better than coffee) pic.twitter.com/RrraY6R8Ky
— Marie Boron (@marievonboran) April 3, 2020
2. Stay mindful
Tania Dzousa of Stories of Stores has already spent some time getting used to working remotely. Her tips include being kind to yourself – whether it’s through yoga or rewards at the end of a day – and mitigating the distractions posed by notifications.
3. Spare yourself from news overload
Alongside reducing screen time and fitting in ukelele and yoga practice, film director and photographer Elena Rossini makes sure to keep her phone free of news and social media apps, helping in her mission to limit her news intake.
4. Close the virtual door behind you
CEO of Midlands Science, Jackie Gorman, has some great suggestions. One that sticks with me is her advice around setting out a “ritual or action” that signifies the end of your working day, which she refers to as “the equivalent of closing the office door”.
“I’ve got a small space set up in my kitchen and I cover it up after 5pm, otherwise it would all feel too claustrophobic.”
5. Get some sun
RCSI’s Curtis Clock Lab researches the impacts of circadian rhythm, also known as our body clock, on inflammation and disease. But it’s just as important in controlling our mood, activity and metabolic health.
Researchers there recommend getting lots of outdoor light, especially in the morning, to keep your body clock in check.
Lots of outdoor light especially during the morning , outdoor morning light is required to anchor out internal circadian clock to the correct time of day . Our body clock controls mood , activity , metabolic health thus ensuring its correctly timed is really important 🙂
— Curtis Clock Lab RCSI (@curtisclocklab) April 3, 2020
6. Set small goals
Co-founder of KeepAppy, Aimee-Louise Carton, recommends reminding yourself that not being okay at the moment is justified. If you can’t talk to a friend or family member, she highlights the benefits of journaling, as well as setting small goals for a sense of accomplishment.
7. Carve out your own space
Recruitment consultant Karen Orton emphasises the importance of “making your space your own”. This should include “anything that makes you smile”, whether it’s flowers, greeting cards or other nice things you can glance at often.
8. Organise virtual coffee breaks
IBM’s Aidan Dunne manages a large technical team, he tells us. To ensure everyone is staying in touch, with official company updates and more personal conversations, he uses Webex to host “virtual coffee breaks” three times a week.
Such video meetings, he adds, enable leaders to “to pick up on non-verbal signs” and allow the team to “support each other so much better together”.
9. Try to make a furry friend
I’ve been missing my family dog loads over the past few weeks, so Silverbluetree’s advice hits the nail on the head for me.
Step one: get a dog. Step two: celebrate being able to work with your adorable canine friend.
10. Keep things lighthearted, where appropriate
No matter the industry you’re in, it’s likely that you’ve become familiar with Zoom at this point.
One of the video-conferencing tool’s features is the ability to set a custom background, which can be useful in meetings and interviews.
Square1 CTO Paul Conroy, however, has considered taking this feature to the next level.
Learn very basic photoshopping. Screenshot your coworkers on video chat, remove them from the picture, set the image of their home as your custom background on the next call with them.
Also, regular breaks, go for a short walk every day, etc, but mainly the photoshop thing.
— Paul Conroy (@conroyp) April 3, 2020
Treasa Spragg of Let Us Revolt has a number of tips, including finding the sweet spot between dressing too comfortably and too formally, and keeping up with friends. Again, it can be worthwhile to take small steps as you set out to take better care of your wellbeing at this time, so remember to meditate and breathe whenever you can, she adds.
12. Check your perspective
Shaun O’Boyle, a science communication consultant and founder of House of STEM, reminds us to go easy on ourselves during the unique and unprecedented situation we’ve found ourselves in.
There’s plenty of content out there around upskilling, staying productive and business continuity, but adding pressure to our towering stack of worries isn’t a good idea.
Regularly reminding myself of this has helped: https://t.co/EfIuCeBv6c
— Dr Shaun O'Boyle 🏳️🌈 (@shaunoboyle) April 3, 2020
13. Cut your eyes some slack
Between laptops, phones and having the TV nearby, ready to capture our attention for the duration of our lunch breaks, many of us are facing more screen time while we work from home.
Hilary O’Shaughnessy, producer at Playable City and research lead at Pervasive Media Studios, has some useful advice for giving your eyes a much-needed rest, but still getting your work done, including recording notes and updates on dictation apps or WhatsApp voice messages.
14. Implement routines for different parts of the week
Michelle O’Connor, a freelance copywriter and editor who goes by Specky Scribbler, has been working remotely for years. During that time, she has learned a number of important lessons that the rest of us can benefit from, such as trying not to use a laptop on days you’re not working.
I've been doing it for years: have breakfast first, then check your emails. Turn your laptop off after work – whether that's at a certain time, or after a certain task. Try to have things you do that differentiate weekdays from weekends (I try not to use my laptop at weekends).
— SpeckyScribbler (@SpeckyScribbler) April 3, 2020
15. Spend quality time with your family
Austin Innovation CEO Mary Austin has found pleasure in going for walks with her children once she has finished work for the day.
Joining them in “yelling, running, jumping and just being kids” helps her to decompress and “get it out”, which she believes is crucial in staying healthy.
16. Take small steps
Design studio Post’s Robert Farrelly is keeping it simple: starting his days by getting dressed.
Putting pants on is a start 😂
— Robert Farrelly (@veryrobert) April 3, 2020