Many people are working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
You’re probably grateful for the ability to keep your job and to continue earning a living. But, working at home also poses its own unique challenges.
If you also have a spouse working at home and kids doing online learning, this time can seem even more stressful and overwhelming.
Here are five tips to help you manage work stress while at home and stay productive during the COVID-19 pandemic from the American Psychological Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
1. Create a designated workspace in your home, clear the clutter and make it yours.
Choose a traditional desk or table — whichever you prefer.
Equip the space with good lighting and work supplies. Make an effort to personalize the space, perhaps with pictures, flowers, or other items that bring you joy to glance at while you work.
You’re spending a lot of time here in the foreseeable future, don’t “make do,” but “make it yours”. You will be more productive, less frustrated, and less needlessly stressed.
Have family members set up separate work and school areas in other parts of the house. That way each of you can work in the most conducive, distraction-free and pleasant environment possible.
2. Establish a regular workday routine, and maintain it.
To give you a sense of normalcy during this uncertain time, psychologists suggest maintaining a daily work schedule. Establish a regular start, lunch break and end time.
Some even find dressing in work attire helpful. A structured routine helps to give a sense of purpose and focused direction to one’s workday. Talk with family members about the importance of quiet and uniterrupted time during the workday.
3. Stay connected with video chats and meetings.
Use Skype, Zoom, Teams or another service with video capabilities when possible for daily meetings and presentations, rather than just telephone conference calls. If you can see your colleagues and clients, you’ll feel less isolated and alone in your work duties.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, there’s another benefit to video meetings: Researchers say that more than half of our communication is accomplished through body language and visual cues rather than through the words we speak.
To be effective and persuasive, it’s important to see the person you’re talking with and for them to see you — no need to stress and wonder about the person’s reaction while you’re talking. With video conferences, you can see the person’s body language and you can react and address their concerns accordingly.
4. Seek counseling, if needed, through your employee assistance program
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, many companies offer free, professional counseling sessions — some by phone — to help employees resolve their stress and personal issues. Your employee assistance program (EAP) may offer advice about how to cope with any anxiety that you may be experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
5. Take a break — and take care of yourself
At some point each day, schedule time to do something you enjoy. Take a walk outdoors in the fresh air. Read a book. Try yoga or another workout. Listen to music.
The idea is to choose something that gives you a sense of peace and well-being — something that helps you recharge for the next day.
Visit cdc.gov/COVID19 to keep up with the latest news and recommendations regarding the virus. To find out more about what Tanner Health System is doing to address COVID19, visit tanner.org.
Dr. Kenneth J. Genova is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He completed his internship and residency at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, New York as well as earning a degree in psychology from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.