Tips for managing self-care when working from home

1. Stay connected:

Maintaining good social connections is important for your mental health and wellbeing. Schedule times throughout the day to speak either via phone or video conference call as a team and/or with work colleagues. Make use of technology which enables you to let colleagues know when you are available/unavailable to talk, when you are away from your desk etc. Talk about how you are feeling and ask colleagues how they are feeling. Make sure to also talk about topics other than coronavirus. Give yourself permission to limit or end anxiety provoking conversations, for example by saying, “I’m sorry, I find talking about this doesn’t help me right now, do you mind if we change the topic?”

2. Look after yourself:

To maintain a positive frame of mind, continue to do things that you enjoy and remember to keep up with the basics: eat three healthy meals per day; maintain good sleep hygiene; minimise use of alcohol/drugs; and exercise daily. Exercise and staying active is one of the most effective ways of managing stress and improving mental health, sleep and concentration. There are some great online exercise, yoga, mindfulness and meditation resources. Get as much fresh air and sunlight as possible. If you are unable to go outside, sit next to a window and have the blinds/curtains open. Ask for help if you need it – people feel good when they are able to help others. It’s ok to distract yourself rather than excessively worrying about ‘what if’. 

3. Keep a routine:

As much as possible, try to maintain your usual daily work routine. This means waking up at your usual time, getting changed into appropriate clothing, putting together a to-do list, scheduling breaks for your day and switching off from devices afterwork hours. Try to create a workspace for yourself and make sure that you have time away from devices. To maintain boundaries, it can be useful to turn off work-related notifications when you are on a break and to switch off work devices when the workday is done. Have meals at your usual time, and not in front of the computer. Resist the urge to work through meals and late into the night. 

4. Familiarise yourself with the technology:

Practice with family and friends if you are not familiar with video conferencing technology. Be mindful of the visual and auditory distractions in your space when on video conference calls, and maintain professionalism in your work-related interactions. Get advice if you are unsure of how-to login remotely from home. 

5. Be kind and supportive to one another:

Check-in with family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to see how they are coping. Be kind and supportive to one another. We are all in this together. 

Miriam Wyzenbeek is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, and the Law Society of NSW’s Wellbeing Manager.

First published Tuesday 17 March 2020