Last Updated on December 25, 2022 by Anneke Schmidt, PhD
Millions of people are now working from home in an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19. This new way of working comes with its own set of challenges, chief among them being how to maintain work-life balance when you’re no longer confined to a traditional office setting. Today, more than ever, people are juggling family obligations with job responsibilities without making a clear distinction between the two.
This can lead to intense pressure, which is only compounded by the fact that many are working remotely for the first time. If you’re one of those struggling to find equilibrium between work and home life, read on to learn more about common remote work issues, and discover valuable tips to reduce stress while working from home.
Work-Life Balance: Common Remote Work Issues
Remote work is becoming an increasingly popular way to avoid the stress of a traditional office job. But for many people, working from home can be just as stressful, if not more so. There are no clear boundaries between work and home life, and you can quickly become overwhelmed by the number of distractions in your home environment.
Here are some of the most common issues that can increase your stress levels and contribute to mental health issues while working from home.
Lack of Structure
One problem with working from home is that there is no clear structure to the day. Without a set routine, it can be easy to lose track of time and let work consume your entire day. This can be extremely draining and lead to burnout.
The lack of structure also blurs the work-life boundary, making it difficult to know when you’re done with work. This experience can lead to a feeling of being constantly on-call, which leads to stress.
Too Many Sources of Distraction
Moreover, it can be challenging to focus on work when there are so many distractions in your home environment. Family responsibilities can easily pile up and create more stress. Children, other family members, and even pets can be sources of distraction, as can be chatboxes and the temptation to watch television or surf the internet.
Other common distractions for remote workers are:
- Receiving post and deliveries
- Answering personal calls, texts, and emails
- Spending time on social media
- Completing household chores.
Limited Social Interaction
Another problem with working from home is that you can easily feel isolated due to a lack of social interaction. Consequently, you may feel lonely and unsupported, which can lead to a sense of detachment from the outside world.
If all remote communication takes place via the internet or over the phone, there may be fewer casual chats about people’s lives and more about business. Starting a discussion for the sole purpose of socializing and chatting informally is not usual, but it should be.
Habit of Working Long Hours
Furthermore, if you do all of your work at home, you’re more likely to develop a habit of working long hours simply because no one is watching you. This can be a real problem since it is easy to overwork yourself when you’re not under any external pressure to stop.
So, if you have difficulty setting personal life boundaries, this work model may increase your chances of working incessantly.
Trouble Sleeping and Poor Sleep Hygiene
And finally, as a remote worker, you could also have trouble sleeping. This is because you are more easily distracted at home and find it harder to relax and unwind at the end of the day.
To make matters worse, many people working from home adopt poor sleep hygiene habits, such as working on a laptop in bed. This can make it even harder to get a good night’s sleep and further contribute to feelings of fatigue and stress.
10 Ways To Reduce Stress While Working From Home
One of the reasons it’s so important to learn how to reduce stress while working from home is that workplace stress can easily spill over into your home life, thus interfering with your home responsibilities.
To create a better work-life balance for yourself, you might consider the following ten stress management ideas for remote workers. These tips can help you establish better boundaries between work and home, reduce distractions, maintain a healthy level of social interaction, and improve your mental health and overall well-being.
#1 – Carve Out Specific Work Hours
One of the best ways to reduce stress while working from home is to create a specific work schedule and stick to it. This will help you maintain a clear distinction between workday and home life and prevent work from taking over your entire day.
An excellent way to do this is to set specific working hours for each day of the week and try not to work over the weekends. If you’re struggling to stick to your own schedule, impose some external pressure by telling your friends and family about it or by signing up for a work-related online course with deadlines.
#2 – Create a Designated Workspace
It is essential to have a dedicated space to work in when working remotely. This will help you focus on your work and not be distracted by things around you. A dedicated workspace can be a room in your house or an outdoor area such as a converted shed, as long as it is free from distractions and you feel comfortable working in that space.
If you can’t make such work arrangements, try creating a virtual space for yourself, using specific tools to help you focus, such as noise-canceling headphones or a dedicated work computer. Work environments should be places of little interruption. So, turn off your phone, disable notifications on your computer, and remove anything from your workspace unrelated to work.
#3 – Take Regular Breaks From Work
Taking short breaks from work has many mental health benefits, whether you’re working from home or in a traditional work setting. For example, light exercise in the fresh air can help to clear your head and improve your energy levels, while a quick break for some healthy snacks can boost your focus and productivity.
Allowing yourself time to take breaks also prevents you from working too long without a break, leading to feelings of fatigue and stress. To make the most of your personal timeouts, try to schedule them into your day and stick to a specific break schedule.
#4 – Focus on Self-Care and Relaxation
It is imperative for remote workers to focus on self-care and relaxation, as these activities can be harder to engage in when you’re not physically at work. One way to do this is by scheduling regular massage sessions or yoga classes or by taking time each day for yourself to do something calming, such as reading a book or taking a walk.
Another way to promote relaxation is by practicing stress-relieving breathing exercises, which can be done anywhere and don’t require any special equipment. And, if you find that you’re struggling to relax at home, consider using a noise machine or white noise app to help block out distractions and create a calm environment.
#5 – Limit Digital Distractions
As a remote worker, you need to limit digital distractions to stay focused, motivated, and productive. This means turning off your phone notifications, disabling social media sites, and avoiding checking email constantly.
It can also be helpful to schedule specific times of the day when you will check your email and social media accounts, such as after lunch or at the end of the workday. And, if you find that you’re struggling to stay away from digital distractions, try using a tool such as an app blocker or a website blocker to restrict your access to certain websites and apps.
#6 – Stay Connected With Co-Workers
Social interaction is another essential aspect of reducing stress while working remotely. It’s easy to feel isolated when you’re not physically at work, so try to stay connected with your co-workers as much as possible.
This can be simply talking to them on the phone or through video chat or scheduling regular team meetings. You can also join online forums or discussion groups related to your work or chat with co-workers on social media at specific times. Whatever method you choose, staying connected with your team will help to reduce feelings of isolation and stress.
#7 – Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
It’s crucial to practice good sleep hygiene while working remotely, as poor sleep can increase stress levels. This means maintaining a regular sleep schedule, avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed, and using relaxation techniques before bedtime.
If you’re struggling to get enough sleep, consider talking to your doctor about possible causes and treatment options. Additionally, make sure your bedroom is conducive to a good night’s sleep by avoiding bright lights and keeping your room cool and dark.
#8 – Plan a Short Getaway or Vacation
Planning a short getaway or vacation is another great way to reduce stress while working from home. Not only does it provide a break from work, but it can also help to improve your mental health and well-being.
This could be a weekend trip to a nearby city, a relaxing beach vacation, or even just an afternoon at a local spa. Getting away from your desk for a while can help to rejuvenate you and make you feel more productive when you return. Just be sure to schedule time before and after your trip to prepare and wind down adequately.
#9 – Set SMART Professional Goals
Another possibility to reduce the stress of remote work is by setting professional goals that are SMART. This means setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals that will help you improve your remote work performance and achieve your desired outcomes.
When creating your goals, ask yourself the following questions: What do I want to achieve? How will I know when I’ve achieved it? What steps do I need to take to be successful? What are the potential obstacles, and how can I overcome them? And, finally, what is the deadline for this goal?
By answering these questions and setting SMART goals, you can stay focused and motivated while working remotely.
#10 – Celebrate Small Achievements
And finally, don’t forget to celebrate small achievements when working from home. This could be as simple as taking a break after completing a task, eating a healthy snack, or going for a walk outside. Or maybe you could treat yourself to a new book, a yoga class, or an afternoon at the movies.
Taking time to celebrate your accomplishments will help you feel more productive and positive, which in turn will help you stay sane when things are feeling a little too hectic. So, be sure to take some time each day to celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem.
The Bottom Line
There are many ways to reduce workplace stress while working remotely. By following the tips above, you can create a work environment that is both productive and stress-free – in the comfort of your home.
If you’re unsure where to start, try incorporating some self-care practices into your daily life. Self-care and self-compassion are essential for maintaining your physical, emotional, and mental health, especially when working from home. So, be sure to give yourself the care and attention you need and deserve.
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