Last updated on October 13, 2020.
The COVID-19 pandemic has blurred the boundaries between our work and home life. The number of reported stress and depressive symptoms from workers has been increasing. As work-place issues weave into our family conversations and extra stress infiltrates our homes, trying to strike a work-life balance is harder than before.
Here are 6 tips to manage our work-related stress!
1. Organise a Working Area
Try to set up a workstation – a fixed space at home where you will do your work during your working hours. In the same way that beds are not for working because it affects the quality of sleep, working in environments with many distractions will affect your efficiency at work. As you would be seated at your desk during work, when working from home, you should have – if possible – an organised space that is separate from your family so you can have clearly defined working space and time. If this is not feasible, consider working at a library or café during your work schedule, and leave your laptop to the side when you get home!
2. Reward Yourself
It is important that we recognise our efforts during such a difficult time. When we celebrate even the smallest personal victories or achievements, we benefit from psychologically mood-boosting effects. Taking the time to notice and appreciate the good moments in life is an act of mindfulness that builds us to be more resilient against hardships. Whether it is finishing a task, impressing people at an interview or presentation, take a moment to commemorate and be proud of yourself for getting it done. Your reward could be food-based, or it could be giving yourself some time to relax, such as taking a walk or listening to your favourite music. This works well for motivating ourselves for completing tasks too. When we break each task into small tasks, and as we complete each of them, we celebrate it as a small victory. This way, we will be more eager to work and get more done.
3. Discuss Issues Face-to-Face
When we are communicating tasks through emails, not being able to see the face of who you work with can hinder the quality of communication being carried out. Our body language and visual cues let others get an idea of how we may be feeling towards a task or situation. Without them, the people of the receiving end will be less able to recognise how they can assist you. There is also much less space open for discussion and elaboration, and instructions may be interpreted as non-negotiable when they may have been more open-ended.
4. Set a Schedule & Clear Boundaries
If your environment has changed, make sure to work by a time frame as you would at your usual work environment. Whether it is 9 to 5, or 10 to 6, keep to that schedule, and not let yourself get distracted and put off what needs to be done. If you let your work drag on late into the night, you may lose out on social or family time, and your sleep too. This also means that you may need to say no to tasks and prioritise others, or negotiate a time frame which you feel you can work better with. At the end of each workday, let yourself unwind by removing yourself from the workspace, and settle into your evening routine.
5. Do not Over-consume News and Social Media Coverage
Yes, we have more time to ourselves now. But feeding too much information from news and social media into our brains can contribute to our stress. Since there is constantly new information on COVID-19, you may feel overwhelmed if you try to keep up with everything. It is vital for our wellbeing that we stay level-headed when being updated on the latest information, and switch it off within a suitable time. Try to take time off by introducing new activities, either for yourself or to share with someone. Read a new book, cook a new recipe, bake a cake, or even start journaling, these are all little things that can brighten up our lives during this time.
6. Stay Connected with People
Keep up with one another and talk about non-work-related things. Even though we are not able to meet up with friends and go out socialising lately, we can still nourish our social lives by keeping in touch with people. It can be friends, relatives, or colleagues from work. You can ask and share how you have been coping, what extra things have you been doing now that you have more time on hand, and also any recipes you have been serving up while eating at home. We can appreciate this period for being a time in which everyone is having similar struggles, so we can discuss and share more freely with one another.
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