• Camila Santiago

The Stress of Working From Home and How to Handle it

The future of work is here. Researches have shown that the number of remote workers will double in 2021. Apparently, remote work will remain mainstream and as far as we know, it’s one of the few certainties coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Working remotely has several benefits like the flexibility to work from the comfort of your own home, extra sleeping time, zero commutes and a more chilled dress code. However, almost like everything in life, remote work has some drawbacks as well – if you don’t know what they are and don’t know how to manage the inevitable stressors of this type of work, they can turn into stress, anxiety and even burnout.


Here’s a list of the cons about working from home:


Longer working days


Some people have difficulties separating work from personal life and find it hard to turn their at-work responsibilities off – especially when working from the living room or bedroom. It happens to me – I catch myself working way longer than I normally would if I’m working from home.


It’s important to create a distinction and set boundaries to ensure you don’t blur the line between your professional and personal life.


Procrastination


When I work from home, it feels like there’s always something to do around the house and distractions keep me procrastinating – longer breaks, checking my phone and social media several times during working hours, or getting stuck into doing things not related to work. It’s so much easier to stay motivated and focus in a busy office environment than being at home a few meters from the TV or from the kitchen.


Interruptions


If you have a family or share your house with someone else, you may be often interrupted by your spouse, children or roommate. Most people can’t associate you being home and that you’re also working – that means you aren’t free during working hours. Again, boundaries are essential here – establish a “Do Not Disturb” time with those who live with you and say how important to not be interrupted during these hours.


Blue light creates stress


Blue light is emitted from screens such as computer screens, smartphones and TVs and prolonged exposure to this light – especially at night – can delay the release of sleep hormones like melatonin, which is the sleep hormone.


When being exposed to blue light a couple of hours prior to bedtime may disrupt the brain’s natural sleep-wake cycle, increasing stress levels. To prevent this, avoid looking at screens one to two hours before going to bed.


How can I cope with the stress of working from home?


First off, you’re not alone. If it helps to know, there are thousands of people working from home and most of them are facing the same issues as you are. Fortunately, there are ways to tackle these stressors. Here are some proven strategies for minimizing the stress of working remotely.


Schedule, schedule and schedule again


Just because you’re working from home, it doesn’t mean you can do what you want, whenever you want. Remote work requires twice as much discipline as working from the office. Don’t wait until you feel like working, otherwise, you’ll be carried away by the procrastination monkey.


Schedule your activities – both personal and professional ones – in calendars, apps, to-do lists, or whatever works best for you.


Know your most productive hours


The day is driven by cycles that affect how alert and productive we are. That means that the human body goes through cycles of between 90 and 120 minutes of a productive peak. However, each person has their own natural rhythm and your productive time might differ from your partner or boss.


Chris Bailey, the author of “The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy”, suggests picking a day and track all your activities, energy levels, motivation and focus, every day. The longer you track your productivity, the more reliable your insights will be.


Once you figure out your most productive time of the day, try to arrange the most important and high-concentration task when you’re highly productive.


Get a hobby


After a long day of work, it might be a bit tempting to couch surf and binge-watch Netflix. That’s not a problem doing it once in a while but every day might even be detrimental to your health.


What about picking up an activity, a hobby, like cooking, going for a run, learn a new language, practicing yoga, playing an instrument? Doing something enjoyable helps to reduce stress levels and it relaxes the body and mind.


Exercise regularly


A great way to reduce stress is to work out. 30 minutes of exercise per day can improve your sleep. If you can workout outside, that’s even better, since exposure to natural daylight improves your sleep cycle and it’s a great way to distress after work.


Practice mindfulness and meditation


Mindfulness and meditation help in reducing stress by providing you with more focus, easing stress and anxiety and promoting mental and physical health.


If you’re new to meditation, don’t even know how to start or when the website Mindful.org offers a complete guide for beginners.