With more than half of us currently working from home right now due to coronavirus, we've asked award-winning health blogger, Hannah Anderson, to share with us with her top tips on how to look after your mental wellbeing while working from home...
Avoid social media in the morning
Without a doubt, I always find myself to be less productive first thing in the morning if I pick up my phone and go on social media. My advice would be to avoid picking up your phone until an hour after you've started working. While it may be hard at first, you'll certainly see a difference in your productivity levels - believe me.
Exercise before work
If you can, start your day with exercise. Not only is exercise first thing in the morning a good way to keep yourself distracted, but it'll help set positive intentions for the day ahead.
A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise also improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making. Plus, exercise is also known as a natural remedy for stress which can help look after your mental wellbeing.
Create a routine and stick with it
This is the number one advice I would give to anybody working from home. Having a routine is key for not only your productivity levels, but for your mental wellbeing too.
Each day I write out a list for work and tick them off as I go. I’m pretty lucky that I have a jam-packed day of work, but if this isn't the case for you then purposely find jobs for yourself or use this time to finally get the things done that you've been putting off.
Work in a clean, comfortable environment
If by now you don’t have a dedicated workspace, then make that your number one priority. In my 3+ years of working from home, I've come to learn that having a dedicated working space is crucial for my mental wellbeing as it separates my work and home life.
Give yourself a break at lunchtime
Busy or not, it's super important to keep yourself moving throughout the day and believe me, you'll find yourself achieving fewer steps whilst working from home.
To keep yourself motivated throughout the day, allow yourself a mental break for lunchtime - even if it's 10-15 minutes! By doing so, you'll also be less likely to hit that 3 pm brain slump.
Finish the day with a walk outside
Sticking to government guidelines, end your day with a walk outside and consider it as your commute home.
Because working from home doesn't really have a strict 'clocking off' time, I find it extremely easy to work late into the evenings which can end up having an effect on my mental state if continued throughout the week.
By taking yourself out for a walk in the evening, you can physically make it out as your daily 'commute' home. Silly or not, it really can help you to mentally unwind after a busy day in front of the screen.
Speak to people
If you can, I strongly encourage you to pick up the phone and listen to someone’s voice.
We spend far too long writing out emails, talking over WhatsApp and direct messaging each other and not enough time physically talking to people these days. I always aim to call someone at least once or twice a day for a quick chat to avoid feeling a little lonely.
Have a podcast on in the background
If you're working alone from home, then this is a great tip.
Whether you listen to it or not, stick a podcast (or the radio) on in the background (quietly) and you'll soon find that the noise mimics that of an office conversation. I understand how lonely working from home can be and I often rely on this tip a lot to keep myself from going sane with the silence that surrounds me.
And for those who struggle with background noise, try Spotify's background music playlist. You may find - after a while - that you become adjusted and it helps soothes your mind. Plus, studies have shown that ambient noise may help boost creative thinking.
Eat nutritious foods for mental wellbeing
I think it goes without saying that the foods we eat really do have an impact on both our health and mood. In fact, did you know up to 90% of our serotonin is made in our gut? So yes, the foods we put in our mouths really can affect our mental health.
Studies have compared “traditional” diets, like the Mediterranean diet and the traditional Japanese diet, to a typical “Western” diet and have shown that the risk of depression is 25% to 35% lower in those who eat a traditional diet.
I personally make sure I eat a healthy and varied diet consisting of healthy fats, vegetables, fruit, nuts, oily fish, organic meats, eggs and legumes. While I sneak in a treat here and there, I certainly notice the difference in both my energy levels and mental clarity when my diet consists of natural and wholesome foods.
Supplement your diet
While I always encourage everyone to get their vitamins and minerals from as much of their diet as possible, I understand how difficult that may be for some people right now.
Personally, I always rely on a few specific vitamins for my mental wellbeing:
And lastly, if you find yourself struggling with your mental health, please speak up and ask for help. You are not alone. Our mental health is just as important as our physical health - please take care of yourself.
Stay healthy. Stay safe.