WORK-LIFE BALANCE / APR. 13, 2014
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How to Stay Mentally Healthy While Working at Home

An at-home worker can sometimes be described as a recluse that thrives on just meeting deadlines, finishing assignments, avoiding getting involved in office politics and not being regularly supervised.

For some, working from home is a dream come true. For others, working from home could be a lonely, monotonous path. When the remote option is brought up, the decision really depends on the person and their home-life situation: an introvert could possibly jump at the opportunity, while an extrovert would dread the days of being alone without any social interaction (besides speaking to the cat).

Aside from maintaining your physical health, a telecommuter also has to prepare themselves mentally for endless hours of staring at a computer screen getting work done and perhaps not communicating with anyone until after the day’s regular work hours.

Here are some simple steps to stay mentally healthy while working at home.

Schedule

When a person works from home, it’s easy to fall into a habit of constantly working. Instead of spending time with family or friends in front of the television, in the kitchen or at the park, a remote worker would be checking emails constantly, answering telephone calls and getting work done at bedtime.

A routine schedule circumvents this and allows an at-home employee to disconnect during off-hours. A schedule should consist of a start and end time, breaks and lunchtime and days off (avoid working weekends). Be sure to log your hours correctly so you can track how long you’re working.

Outdoors

Standing up, stretching and heading outdoors are great steps to take for your body but also for your mind. Instead of spending your free time in front of the computer trying to get as much work done, heading outdoors for your break can do wonders to clear your mind. Getting clean air and going for a walk can rest your mind and allow you to create new ideas and freshen up a bit.

Conversations

If you know someone who is available at noon or at a scheduled interval, call them up and have a friendly chat or you can even text or email them. Humans are social creatures and participating in conversations can do wonders for your mind and soul. Whether it’s conversing about the latest politics of the day or some recent film that came out, talking for a few minutes instead of working will ease your mind a bit.

A New Setting

Monotony could be considered one of the drawbacks of working from home: the same workstation, the same routine, the same view. This produces boredom and dissatisfaction. In order to solve this problem, take a few hours out of your day by grabbing your laptop or tablet to a coffee shop, library or park and get your work completed there.

Forget the Pajamas

Do you wake up in the morning and start working right away? If so, stop and instead take a few minutes in the morning (or evening) to do some exercise, shower and put on work clothes (or gym apparel). This will make you feel better instead of lounging around wearing your messy bedroom attire.

Pet Your Pet

Research studies have discovered that owning a pet, whether it’s a cat or a dog, can do wonders for your health, both physically and mentally. For instance, a pet can decrease chances of being diagnosed with depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.

“People take drugs like heroin and cocaine to raise serotonin and dopamine, but the healthy way to do it is to pet your dog, or hug your spouse, watch sunsets, or get around something beautiful in nature," says Blair Justice, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health, in an interview with WebMD.

During your break time, go for a walk with your dog or spend a few moments playing with your cat. Need a few minutes to rest your eyes after hours of working? Hang out with your pet. You’ll feel better doing it.

If you’re a remote worker, how do you stay mentally fit each day? Let us know in the comment section.

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