“Many people work from home these days and if you can set boundaries so that you have a workspace that is respected, this helps you to be able to live in harmony and still manage to make your living without the added stress of noise.”
– Jeffrey Dawson
Working from home comes with cool perks! You no longer need to follow the dress codes or feel the pressure coming from the boss. Moreover, commute time is reduced to almost none, depending on where you work.
And yet, even though many perks come with work-from-home jobs, there are underlying challenges that most remote job workers face. For one, it constantly tests their mental health and alters their former state of being productive workers into sluggish and unmotivated ones.
Are you one of those workers who experience remote work stress? Then, this article is for you! In this post, we’ll cover some of the most common causes of work-from-home stress and ways on how to deal with them!
What Is Stressful About Working at Home?
No Social Interaction
While there are so many people that prefer the independence they get from working from home, it translates to isolation for the sociable workers who are already used to everyday chatters with their co-workers. The more they stay at home, the less time they spend in the office. And this only means that there would be less time to associate with the friendly work environment and viable opportunities for asking the manager’s hands-on input and directions in a certain work that each employee might need whenever it occurs.
In the end, each employee lessens the chance to talk to anyone, which could last for days. Sure, there won’t be the tapping of shoulders when you’re working or constant bursts of laughter that could easily distract you from doing your task. But if it’s already a part of a routine that you’re already used to, it starts to fill a void that only work friends can aid. The friendships that are formed inside a workplace can be a way to reduce the stress that builds up on you as you do your task. But, unfortunately, chatting and venting about the work life while seeing their reaction is no longer an option when you’re secluded in your own home.
Even though there are workspaces that could make the task possible online, like Slack, the bond does not feel the same anymore. You may end up feeling alone, which later develops into anxiety while performing your job and work-from-home depression as you can’t talk to anyone as freely as before.
Difficulty Setting Boundaries
Another working-from-home stress is setting boundaries which most workers have trouble doing nowadays. The concept of being available is constantly stretched just because people often forget you’re still working at home. This inconvenience often has a weight anchoring down on your mental health while working from home. This is because people you can’t typically say no to, like your family members, friends, and neighbors, may ask you for anything. And if you decline, you probably know the guilt and frustration that slinks down on your gut every single time it happens.
Ability To Work Longer Hours
There might be times when you have to bring some work with you as you go home. And yet, for the remote workers, the work is more than recommended hours. In the end, these happy and satisfied workers become burnt out working from home with extra hours spent on the same and repetitive tasks. So you’d end up adjusting huge blocks of your time every single time, which can be tiring, especially when you don’t have enough time for yourself.
The stress of working from home often stems from countless distractions that interrupt you from doing your job. Often remote workers experience distractions such as:
- • Getting pick-ups
- • Spontaneous calls and texts unrelated to work
- • Countless hours of scrolling through social media
- • Binge-watching
- • Tending to pets
- • Distracting noises from the home environment
Let’s face it – it’s hard to resist your cute pets when they look cute. And typically, they want to soak into all of the attention they get, no matter what time of day it is. It’s the same way when you have access to your phone all the time! You may end up spending a lot of time immersed in your game and hope that you can push the work later on. While those things mentioned seem like a great way to relieve stress at work, it’s not.
In the end, all they do is stop you from being productive just to lessen the pressure you might get from dealing with stressful clients or tasks. The stress of work-at-home parents is on another level. They are juggling the time to attend to their children’s needs, to make sure they go to school on time, and to do the chores for a clean working environment. While some might say time management is key, not all workers deal with stress the same way as everyone else.
No Set Routine
Routines help the workers to make sure they are doing quality work within the structure and specific time. And yet, remote workers struggle with keeping up with the structure because most of them surely don’t have one. Lack of structure results to delay in some tasks. It could be said the same for some workers who are rushing the work to hang out with friends or spend time online.
In the end, it’s not a guarantee that it will all work for the best because most of them are used to following a routine. However, without it, the work-life balance is always hanging on a thread, swinging whenever the worker sees fit, which may build up stress over time.
Pressure To Always Be Available
Being at home does not mean you always have the time to be accessible to anyone who needs your help. However, it will indeed feel like you’re violating something when you miss a notification from work. Being always available straddles the line between remote work and mental health. This is because this method can result in forming anxiety among workers, and it may develop into depression if kept up in a tedious routine.
10 Tips For Managing The Stress of Working At Home
Like how you take care of your physical self, your mental health also needs gentleness, care, and lots of patience as you go through the process. Working from home may dip your mental health in different directions from time to time because of several factors – anxiety, depression, and pressure. But thankfully, these feelings can be managed with the help of tools to avoid stress at work.
- Create A Routine And Stick To The Schedule
- Upgrade Your Home Office
- Reduce Distractions
- Make Time For Social Interaction
- Protect Your Sleep
- Prioritize Taking Care Of Your Mental Health
- Start Saying “NO”
- Reduce Procrastination With The “90-20” Rule
- Get Up And Move!
- Leave Your Home Office
1. Create A Routine And Stick To The Schedule
Because remote work can slowly blend into our normal routines, work-from-home burnout becomes an inevitable factor. The good news is, it is possible to get rid of work-from-home stress from building up over time with the help of setting up a routine.
Making a routine helps you improve time management and work production. Here are some tried and tested routines that you should try:
- • Setting morning alarms. The first step of setting up a routine starts with waking up at a specific time every day. This way, it alerts your mind that you need to get up and prepare for your day. Setting an alarm might be difficult at first, and we know that. But waking up at the same time regularly may feel like an achievement ticked off for the rest of your to-do list!
- • Building your day with rituals. What makes your day unique is the set of tasks you do as you build up your day. For example, most productive workers optimize their working state of mind by associating themselves first with nature, such as by taking a walk or jogging. Some people set their minds with journals and meditation to develop a sharp state of mind without letting stress get to them. You can also establish different tasks that make you feel productive, like jotting down all of the tasks you’re about to do or organizing your working environment!
- • Challenging Tasks First! Taking on challenging tasks first may be difficult, but it makes you feel better because you tackle your priorities. On top of that, it lessens the dread you go through every single time and boosts your productivity along the way.
- • Setting a regular lunchtime. When done with the first half of your day, setting a regular lunchtime helps you to unwind from all the work you’ve already accomplished. Getting lunch is essential so you can recharge for another set of work and spend your spare time eating lunch or communicating with your loved ones.
- • Finish up for the day. Like regular jobs, you also finish your work day. Having a specific time to complete your workday will make you feel great as you’d take the time to prioritize yourself. Stepping out of your workspace to go out on an evening walk or doing activities that make you feel better is what you should do next!
- • Take some time outdoors. Going out is fun, especially when you’re just cooped up inside your room, staring at your gadget for countless hours. Getting some fresh air outside calms your system and adjusts your body from accumulated stress.
- • Checking in with your pending tasks. Whether you still have a pending task for tomorrow, you can use technology to keep track and synchronize it with all of your gadgets. This way, whether you look at your phone or desktop tomorrow, it’s already sorted out for you!
2. Upgrade Your Home Office
The workspace environment does contribute to your productivity. Having fewer clutters in your environment is essential for your mental health, and it works best when you don’t have a home office set up yet. But if you want to feel more rewarded, upgrading your work setup can be another way to get some stress relief at work. Here are some tips that can help:
- • Get a wide desk. Why? It’s best for your wrists, arms, and elbows as you work on your keyboard, and you can move around comfortably whenever you want to.
- • Pick the best ergonomic chair. For sure, agonizing over back pain is what most remote worker feels. But having the best ergonomic chair you can find makes you feel cozier as you toil away for many hours. So make sure to get a chair that fits your preference and is strong enough to support your lower back and neck.
- • Blast those speakers! Having a dope sound system can surely get you in a better work mode as you immerse yourself in the task. Since you have to pick the things that make you feel more comfortable with the workload, why not try out the wireless keyboard and mouse?
Relieving stress at work will surely happen if you feel comfortable with your environment. That means dedicating a specific space for your work can help your brain stimulate the readiness to face the work tasks and adjust your body quickly as you detach from that place when you’re done for the day.
3. Reduce Distractions
At home, distractions are far more persistent than in the office. However, you can get rid of these distractions by doing the following:
- • Turning off notifications: Start with silencing your phone. Clicking on “Focus Mode” or “Do Not Disturb” helps you eliminate the notifications from popping on your screen every time you get the urge to check them. If you’re using a desktop, you may turn off the sidebar notifications for a while, especially if they are not work-related.
- • Resist Temptations: It’s important to situate yourself away from the temptations as it’s difficult to get into focused mode at home. For example, try to avoid placing your workstation near the television or refrigerator, where you might get easily distracted.
- • Setting boundaries: It’s essential to set your boundaries, even with your family members. There are subtle ways to set boundaries without hurting their feelings; yours will be respected if you know how. For example, you can create a note on the door if you don’t feel brave enough to vocalize it.
4. Make Time For Social Interaction
With friends, family, or even loved ones, you will feel the love and support to get you by. These relationships are necessary to instill a spark in your work without having to go to online meetings just to feel connected with them. It’s true that with home companions, you can feel the boredom strike less and still build meaningful connections rather than feeling alone. And because of that, it boosts your happy hormones, which could contribute to your work productivity.
It’s also nice to have fun outside with your friends on the weekends. Forming bonds outside your home offers a refreshing company and staves off the dread and loneliness of working alone in your home. But if all of these are impossible, then you could always set up bonding moments with your friends online and do some virtual stress relief activities like coffee breaks, movie marathons, playing games, or just simply catching up about life.
5. Protect Your Sleep
If you want to be productive, you need to have sufficient sleep and rest. It’s certainly exhausting when all you have to do is work all day and insist on giving your 100% focus when you know you’re already tired. To make sure you still have the perfect me time, it’s best to stay with the usual work hour as it is in the office. It is only by then that you get sufficient time for your rest and preparation for another work day.
If you want to proceed and have a healthy 8-hour sleep, you can try to practice sleep hygiene, or do the following:
- • Follow a routine at night that gives you time to unwind.
- • Set a specific time to sleep and wake up, so your body clock stays the same.
- • Prepare your sleeping environment.
- • Don’t use electronics an hour before sleep.
- • Reducing caffeine consumption before bedtime.
- • Get physical activities during the day.
- • Reduce stress levels by meditating.
- • Eat lighter foods for easier digestion.
6. Prioritize Taking Care Of Your Mental Health
It’s challenging to balance your work and life when you’re already bombarded with the other. You can’t just get a break from all the deadlines and family matters that putting effort into yourself and your mental health feels so taxing. And because you work from home, self-care is essential. This way, you would still be connected to your goals and wants. Additionally, you would have the time to pursue your passion and interests other than work.
You can help yourself feel better by practicing self-care tasks like:
- • Exercising
- • Meditating or practicing mindfulness
- • Doing stretches or yoga
- • Reading
- • Napping
- • Listening to music
- • Socializing
7. Start Saying “NO”
When you’re at home, there are just so many things people want to do. But, unfortunately, most of the time, they also include you in their agenda to pester you about doing non-work-related activities. And yet, not all of us can easily say no when asked for some favors. And that is okay. However, when it starts to feel like a task that you don’t feel like doing, don’t overwhelm yourself with it. Saying no is a form of boundary that everyone should get used to, especially when it takes a toll on your work and mental health concerns. It’s not selfish to choose yourself and do whatever you want in your free time.
8. Reduce Procrastination WithThe “90-20” Rule
Procrastination is often a coping mechanism for those who don’t have a clear routine to follow. They can easily nudge a time block and do some pleasurable activity first without thinking of the consequences it has. But sometimes, it’s just a way of avoiding work because they are piling up. These adrenaline junkies believe they can boost themselves by rushing through the deadline. But instead, they would rather feel unmotivated to do the task at all.
And because of that, many remote workers start implementing methods that cater to their focus span. For example, some employ the Pomodoro technique, while others do the 90-20 rule. By dedicating 90 minutes of your time, you’d be rewarded with a 20-minute break. This is important when you want to have some break to stretch and hydrate yourself, especially when you feel so immersed in doing the job, and you thought you needed some break. With this, the brain is focused on attaining the prize by sticking to the 90-minute rule and just getting a lot of work done along the way.
9. Get Up And Move!
Making your body active immediately negates the gloomy and depressive thoughts in your brain. Rather than endlessly feeding your mind with constant information from social media, you can stimulate your brain by decluttering it with journals or exercising. Going for a walk promotes mental clarity, as do yoga and meditation. While walking requires further movement, it gives you time to wander around and appreciate nature’s beauty and the environment around you. Do whatever floats your boat when it comes to physical activities. You must be doing it for the sake of your happiness rather than solely programming yourself to do the routine.
10. Leave Your Home Office
After a day’s worth of work, isn’t it rewarding to just hang out with people who make you feel good? No more locking up in your room. It’s time to associate yourself with people and socialize! By socializing, you’d make use of your skills in working that you didn’t know you could still enhance. After all, society is bigger than what it seems online, and you’d get into conversation and see the actual body gestures rather than assuming what they meant behind the screen.
There are also plenty of opportunities that come knocking at your door as you converse with people who have the same interests as you or just have a similar viewpoint. This way, you’d form a connection that resonates with you and your ideas. There are many ways to socialize; now that the coffee shops are open, you can organize a meet-up party with your friends or workmates. You can also go bar hopping to let loose from all the accumulated stress.
No matter what you do, you must have fun while at it to get some work stress relief!
How To Reduce Stress At Work – Expert Interview
Upon interviewing Alex Taylor, the Senior Marketing Specialist of Electronic Team Inc., she stated the best ways to manage stress for remote workers:
Q: How long are you working remotely?
I’ve been working remotely for 4 years now, but it took me some time and several attempts to organize the process – definite stuff needs your physical presence in the office, you know.
Q: Have you ever experienced stress while working from home? What kind of stress?
Since I have two kids, I can assure you that “working remotely when you are home alone” and “working remotely when you have kids” are two different “working remotely” things. And yes, that can be a little bit stressful if you don’t have a strict schedule and cannot organize your working process while being physically at home.
Q: Your tips and bits of advice to reduce stress at work.
From my experience, to reduce stress when working remotely, you need to be, let’s say, flexibly concentrated. I mean, you have to use your time as efficiently as possible, as you never know when your kids decide that your work (what a trifle, indeed) can wait, and you must clone that only toy dinosaur to stop their fight. You need to be well organized to be able separate your tasks as a mother from your working process and switch between these modes in minutes.
Q: What is the biggest stressor for remote workers, in your opinion?
I cannot say that there are a lot of stresses in remote work; otherwise, why would one work remotely if it is so stressful? The process of organizing remote work – that is what can be really stressful. Those first weeks are when you need to synchronize the flow, especially if you are a team player and your tasks’ completion depends on other people and others depending on the completion of your task.
Q: What should everyone who works remotely pay attention to?
For me, working remotely means being virtually in your office while physically staying at home. Your team, partners, projects, routine tasks, literally everything – is on your computer.
You’ll need reliable remote software to launch and synchronize the working process and make all chain links work.
The Bottom Line
Though it seems trivial, relationships make everything better when it comes to working from home and mental health. It’s never too late to reach out to your friends, workmates, or loved ones because it’s already convenient to do so by using group chats or video conferences. Plus, it feels great to be remembered and checked upon every now and then. You can also perform stress-relieving activities at work online. Try having game nights and fun virtual team-building games to form connections and collaboration with your colleagues.
If not, having a vent-out session seems a good idea to let out some steam, especially for those who feel like they’re going to burst with anxiety and pressure. Follow these 10 ways to reduce stress at work to really get through these challenging circumstances as you work from home.