How to survive working at home without going crazy.
As we approach 2020, more and more employers are offering “work from home” positions, which can be both a blessing and an obstacle for professionals. Modern technology contributes most to this working from home movement, allowing virtual conferences, online webinars, and even virtual consultants. The level of technology used by home offices to serve various populations is amazing! For example, I work for an insurance provider that offers “tele-doctors,” professionals who can both diagnose and write prescriptions over a video chat, all in the convenience of your home!
I’ve been working from home for over two years now and while I consider it a great blessing, it’s also a gift that requires stewardship. Initially, working from home was a breeze. But over time, the lack of office camaraderie took its effect. As an extrovert, my biggest struggle in the virtual office is having few peers working around me. As someone who thrives on human interaction, being isolated in my work life often leaves me feeling lonely. While working from home in comfortable attire sounds appealing, the lack of physical interaction certainly can have effects on mental wellness.
To combat the loneliness, I had to learn to seek out community after work hours, even though this can be exhausting after a long day at work. For many, the virtual and remote office may seem to offer unfettered flexibility and fun. But it was only with great degrees of perseverance, intentionality, and discipline that I learned to manage and balance the virtual office life, and the long days of isolation, in ways that serve and enhance my mental wellness.
With this in mind, I want to share three strategies I use to care for myself and even thrive in an isolated work environment.
Commit to an extracurricular activity
One of the ways I combat loneliness is by investing in extracurricular activities outside of normal work hours. For me, I commit to mixed martial arts three nights a week. This is a place where I’m surrounded by supportive individuals that stretch my understanding of the art. Engaging with others is optimal for my mental wellness after being alone all day at home.
Don’t neglect social gatherings or optional work functions
If you work from home you may find yourself loving the idea of not driving in rush hour traffic. I once went 2 months on one tank of gas! Over time your tolerance for driving reduces and you may find yourself losing interest in venturing out. But don’t let working from home become socializing from home too! It’s vital for your mental wellness to continue attending social gatherings and those optional work functions. In-person time with friends, family, and even colleagues can serve to recalibrate us, grounding us in what matters and recharging our empathy and understanding.
Utilize your lunch breaks
If you work from home it is very tempting to just sit in your home during your break. However, your midday break is the perfect opportunity to recharge, which is why I will force myself to get out of the house, even for just fifteen minutes. I will often workout during my lunch break or go for a walk to clear my head, allowing me to work more proficiently when I return. And even more, studies show that aerobic exercises might have a positive impact on mental wellness!
To thrive in a work-at-home environment, you must combat isolation with intentional strategies that reinforce positive mental wellness. Even if you don’t work from home but your job is isolated or you stay home to care for children, I hope these strategies inspire and encourage you to take charge of your physical and mental wellness!