Back before the COVID-19 pandemic turned remote working from an occasional (and optional) perk to an everyday standard, workers had the two sides of their lives split geographically. Today, that just isn’t the case. Office workers across the board are now home-office workers, rarely (if ever) heading to company facilities. It’s all blurred together.
In some ways, this is a great thing. It’s convenient, reduces travel costs, and minimizes irritating oversight. But what happens to workplace stress when you rarely leave your workplace? More than ever before, it’s easy to unintentionally allow the strains of your professional life to seep into your personal life. Here are some tips for preventing that from happening.
Find ways to use your working hours more productively
One of the biggest reasons for daily work becoming excessively stressful is the feeling that inadequate progress is being made. When it seems like you’re not getting much done, it hurts your pride and leads you to worry about the security of your job — a worry that’s made even worse by the condition of the global economy making it so hard to find work.
To combat this, you need to use your working hours as productively as you can. Maybe you can lean more on your colleagues to get you through, consulting them for valuable advice and using their feedback to form a clearer picture of how you’re doing (we’re not great at rating our own efforts, after all). In return, you can help them: it’s a team effort.
You can certainly take advantage of productivity tools like Timeqube, noting how much time you should be spending on certain tasks and avoiding going over-budget. Having a persistent reminder that you’re hitting your cues (so to speak) will provide a sense of satisfaction and confidence, allowing you to relax and complete your day without lingering concerns.
Address other stress sources that can exacerbate things
Work stress is complicated because of everything that your job means to you. It could shape a part of your identity, for instance: if you’re a graphic designer, the thought of losing that role might bring you great anxiety. It’s surely a source of financial comfort. Unless you happen to be rich enough that you don’t need to work, the prospect of unemployment can be frightening.
Due to this, you can reduce the impact of your work stress by minimizing other forms of stress in your life. On the topic of money, anything you can do to improve your financial stability will give you further peace of mind. Here are some things worth investigating:
- Reduce your regular outgoings. Your income won’t change very often, but what you spend certainly can. Perhaps you’ve started spending a lot of money on food since the pandemic broke out, in which case you could dial that back. The more you can save each month, the less stressed you’ll feel. Financial management tools can help with this: NerdWallet has some good suggestions.
- See if you qualify for any benefits. Due to the events of 2020, governmental support schemes are more numerous than before, and you should take whatever you can get. gov is a great official resource for general claims — and if you’ve struggled with getting support for medical issues stemming from military service (it’s far from uncommon), private services like Vet Comp & Pen provide the advocacy that’s sadly needed so often.
- Look for investment opportunities. What should you do with the money you’re able to save? Well, you shouldn’t necessarily throw it into Bitcoin or something similar, but you should look for low-risk ways to invest it for long-term financial security. Look for a good financial advisor to steer you in the right direction.
And when it comes to your identity, it’s vital that you don’t lose yourself in your job. You’re so much more than the title you hold, yet we live in a time when what you do can feel like it conveys who you are. Here are some ideas for how you can change this:
- Pursue new skills and new disciplines to expand your horizons. The more capable you feel as a professional, the less you’ll feel pigeonholed in your job. There are so many training resources available online (Creative Bloq has some to consider), so draw upon them to develop some new skills.
- Look for new hobbies to attempt. How are you spending your free time? If you’re bored, you’d likely benefit from taking up a new hobby. You could paint miniatures, or learn to play a musical instrument, or get stuck into some DIY. This will all help to keep your mind off work worries.
- Take up new forms of exercise or meditation. A healthy body supports a healthy mind, and maintaining a sensible routine will surely help reduce your stress levels. At a minimum, try getting out for a walk every day. You’ll find that it makes a big difference.
Make the halves of your life as distinct as possible
Lastly, but very importantly, you need to make the two halves of your life as distinct as you can. It’s tough to do this when you’re working from home, because you’re always in the same space, but it’s far from impossible to achieve a decent separation. How you do it is up to you, though. You need to find a system that meets your unique needs.
Some people like to dress smartly for work (regardless of whether their colleagues care) and change their clothes when they’re finished. Others like to take walks before and after work to mimic the transitional feeling of commuting. If you’re using the same room for work and leisure, consider changing that if you can. Having a dedicated workspace that you only use for work will make it easier to get away from work when you’re done.
Oh, and be extremely clear about when you’re available to pitch in on work projects. If your day ends at 5:30pm and it causes you stress when you’re dragged into work matters after that, stop taking any messages or calls from coworkers or managers at that point — and tell everyone that you’re not to be disturbed during your free time.
For more tips on leading a mindful business head to https://timeqube.com/articles/