Three Ways to Care For Your Mental Health as You Work From Home

Taking time to care for your mental health is always a challenge, but it can prove especially difficult in this season. With the holiday celebrations ending and a new year beginning, you might be feeling uncertain about how to set healthy patterns and rhythms as we begin 2021. Here are three simple ways you can prioritize and champion your mental health starting today.

  1. Set clear work hours and boundaries. With so much of our work taking place at home, it’s easy to roll out of bed and immediately check work emails. However, this merging of work and personal life can take a toll on your mental health and make you feel like you are working 24/7. Starting this week, set clear “work hours,” or times that you will be working and available to communicate about work-related topics. For instance, you can tell your boss or employees that you will be working and available from 9:00 am-5:00 pm on Monday-Friday, but that you are unavailable on the weekends. Small changes such as this will make a significant impact on your mental health as you realize that you are free to prioritize yourself and your health. Not every waking minute is a working minute, so take time during your off time to truly care for yourself. Maybe this looks like spending time with friends, reading an enriching book, or taking a beautiful walk in creation. By setting clear boundaries for work, you will give yourself life-giving times to rest and feel refreshed.
  2. Be mindful about your goals. On the Learn How To Become website, there’s an entire article dedicated to mental health with tips on how to boost your mental health in the workplace. One helpful idea from the article is to make “small, manageable goals.” The article points out that only having large, intimidating work tasks can lead to feelings of anxiety and inability. To combat this problem, the article suggests “break[ing] down big tasks into smaller ones so the work doesn’t feel so daunting.” What’s one big goal you can break into manageable chunks this week? Watch how your stress levels decrease and you feel more eager to work as you separate goals into small, doable steps.
  3. Don’t be afraid to try something new. People often get so caught in a rut that they feel that they cannot change their unhealthy habits. They worry that if they don’t answer emails 24/7, they’ll be fired, or they feel that they need to help with every possible work project in order to be appreciated. Don’t allow these fears and worries to dictate how you start a new year. If you feel that you are overbooked, finish the projects you’ve already committed to but ask for a different schedule next time. If you worry that people expect you to answer emails immediately, talk with your boss about setting a standard response time of 1-2 business days. Don’t allow unhealthy habits to set the tone for 2021; instead, be bold and speak up honestly for your mental health and needs. If a rhythm or habit isn’t working well, change it up and try something new. As you experiment with new techniques (such as journaling, setting morning and evening routines, or taking short walks throughout the day), you will see which habits bring life and help you to cultivate a healthy and productive lifestyle.

Are you feeling a bit less stressed already? By setting clear time limits and boundaries, creating goals that are helpful and not harmful to your health, and boldly experimenting with new routines and rhythms, you will give yourself the time and freedom you need to stay healthy and thrive as we enter a new year.

By Carissa Joy Burns

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