Before remote companies rose to trend, we thought working from home would reduce work-related stress. After all, it eliminates the need for driving or commuting, which is already exhausting in itself. Our homes also allow us to take a break whenever we want; there are no rules to follow but ours.
But now that working from home has become the norm, the effect on us seemed to be the opposite. According to research, 41% of people who regularly work from home consider themselves highly stressed, while on-site workers who feel the same are just at 25%. The sleep quality of work-from-home employees is also affected; 42% report frequent night waking, while only 29% of on-site workers experience the same thing.
Sadly, we have little choice in the matter. The world needs to get rid of COVID-19 for good before we can go back to our offices. However, if you had already been working from home before the pandemic, your situation does not make you hopeless. If office employees can reduce their stress without changing workplaces, you can also do that without leaving your home.
The key is to create a healthier environment for yourself so that you can maintain good energy levels. That said, here’s how to make working from home less stressful and more energizing:
1. Identify What Makes You Stressed
You can treat yourself to a myriad of de-stressing products, such as essential oils or hand massagers. However, if you don’t tackle the actual source of your stress, you will not really change your situation. Therefore, identify your stressors first.
Generally speaking, the lack of structure, distractions, blurred boundaries, social isolation, and lack of physical exertion are the leading factors that make working from home stressful. Lack of structure refers to the “all-over-the-place” feeling you get while working. Since you are at home, you cannot find a balance between your “work self” and “home self.” One moment you’re in a meeting with your department, and you’re doing the laundry next. That can stress you out because the work-life balance is disrupted.
Distractions, of course, are the things and people around your house. It results in blurred boundaries because homely pleasures and your family are nearby, urging you to spend your time with them instead of working. If you live alone, social isolation can affect you, lowering your motivation to work. Lastly, the lack of physical exertion, which refers to exercise and other movements, can hurt your mental health because it degrades the quality of your sleep and rest.
If these factors are also your stressors, focus your de-stressing methods on them. For example, if you need structure, set up a proper home office inside a private room. That can reduce the other factors as well because having your own quiet space allows you to concentrate and set clearer boundaries.
2. Make Changes in Your Routine
If your current routine is making you feel sluggish and demotivated, then clearly, it’s not working for you. It’s begging for a change.
Making changes in your routine isn’t as hard as you think. It doesn’t require setting up your alarm earlier or doing more chores. Instead, simply try adding these five practices to your day: relax, enjoy, simplify, exercise, and thank.
It is up to you to decide how to fulfill those practices. To give you an idea, do breathing exercises every several minutes or hours to relax. This will help reset your mind. To enjoy small moments, find humor in situations that are not too serious. De-clutter your space to simplify. Do yoga or any quick and easy workouts to exercise. Then, end each day grateful for another productive day.
3. Move Outdoors
Home office designs on the internet are often geared inside homes. But it’s perfectly normal to work outdoors, too. In fact, it might be better for you because the outdoors expose you to the natural environment, which has a multitude of health benefits.
It just might be a little uncomfortable, but once you’ve created a proper set-up, you can also get focused as you would inside an office. To start, find a cool, shady spot, like your patio or deck. Minimize the glare in the space by installing retractable patio shades. You can draw them, shut them, or roll them up to control your natural light, depending on the direction of the sun.
Working outdoors doesn’t just give you a fresh change. It also distracts you in a good way. Isn’t it annoying to be distracted by printer-copier noises, ringing phones, and other indoor sights and sounds? But if you’re outside, you’ll be distracted by the wind, the birds chirping, or the waves crashing into the shore if you live by the sea — and those are all welcome distractions.
By observing these de-stressing tips, working from home can become more inspiring for you. You barely need to spend money. The biggest investment it asks of you is just the energy to enhance your daily routine.