Most stories about COVID-19 focus on the physical impact of the virus, but what is being overlooked is the mental strain being isolated in your own home can have.
I have self-isolated after coming down with an illness and have put together 9 tips you can do each day to keep your mind healthy when working from home!
1. Let fresh air in
If you’re reading this from England, chances are it’s still pretty cold. You might have your windows shut and you may even have the heating on, but this tip is so important...
Open your windows and let in some fresh air.
It doesn’t take long for your home to become stuffy and if you have a garden or balcony, put on a coat and sit outside for half an hour, listen to something other than your TV and breath in that fresh air (I’m writing this outside!).
2. Do some exercise
For some of us, being stuck at home means very little movement. You might walk to the kettle a few times, in between trips to the loo and fridge, but that’s about it.
Make sure you set aside a little bit of time each day to get up and be active. 30 minutes of yoga in your bedroom or a few core strengthening exercises might not be as much as you usually do, but it’s better than nothing and will keep you from feeling stiff and uncomfortable.
3. Speak to someone on the phone
You’re working from home, emailing all day long, occasionally texting someone about how you’re at home, before closing your laptop and watching telly until bed. If you live with someone, they may be the only person you speak to for a couple of weeks.
Phone calls are weird to a lot of us. They are usually reserved for booking doctors’ appointments, speaking to someone when driving (handsfree of course) and telling someone from Vodafone you don’t want to do a customer survey.
But close Whatsapp and call someone for 20 minutes, see if they need anything during this time (obviously this doesn’t apply if you’re self-isolating). I guarantee it’ll help and if you haven’t got anyone to call, call me!
4. Finish work properly
If you’re sat on your sofa with your laptop working all day, it’s easy to keep it open past your finish time, responding to a couple more emails, and then seeing it after dinner, doing just a little bit more because you’ve nothing else to do. STOP IT.
When you finish work each day outside of self-isolation, my bet is that you go home. Treat working from home the same. Shut down your computer, get up, move into a different room and begin your evening.
5. Have a workspace
Whatever you do, DO NOT WORK IN BED. I know it sounds incredible, waking up at five to nine, grabbing your laptop and working through to lunch without moving, but it can be hugely detrimental to your mental health.
Your sleep can be negatively affected, and you are undoubtedly less productive when horizontal, whether you want to admit it or not!
Assign a space in the house to work and keep it that way.
6. Get dressed for work
Now this doesn’t have to mean you put your suit on to sit in your office/lounge/kitchen/wherever, but just get out of your pyjamas and freshen up.
Speaking from experience, it always feels terrible if you crawl out of bed, pick up your laptop, work all day and then make your dinner in whatever you slept in, before having to get ready for sleep again.
You are far more productive if you just change outfits in the morning, signifying the end of sleep time and the start of work time.
7. Cook at least one meal
If, like me, you are used to working from home, you may already appreciate the ability to go and cook something nice for lunch. If you’re new to the game, it will feel incredibly tempting to throw something in the microwave or even worse, order takeaway, but resist the urge!
Even if you just cook one meal a day from scratch, make sure you do it mindfully and enjoy the time away from your sofa. With supermarket shelves bare (stop panic buying you muppets), this is a great opportunity to test your ‘Ready Steady Cook’ skills and see what you can make from what’s in your fridge!
8. Do something you’ve been putting off
It’s not all about work. If you’re self-isolating, you will be spending your evenings (or whenever your down time is) at home too, so now is the perfect time to do that thing you haven’t had time for.
For me, I’ve got countless video games I never finished, books I was given years ago that sit unread and a Ford Mustang model kit half built. Now that we can’t go to the pub, cinema or gym, sit down and dedicate some time to enjoying whatever it is you always tell yourself you haven’t got time to do.
9. Don’t just refresh the news
With all of the contrasting news coming in every minute from world leaders, scientists, conspiracy theorists and more, it’s important not to get sucked into the whirlpool of panic and fear.
I know how tempting it is to sit and refresh Twitter, hoping for some exciting coronavirus news, perhaps an announcement that you can go outside again or better yet, that your holiday in the summer is safe, but don’t do it.
If you need to be updated, pick two times during the day, I’ll even do it for you, let’s say 8am and 8pm and go on a trustworthy news website (not The Sun/Daily Mail, etc.) to read their top stories.
Once you know the key information, you can get back to working your way through this list, ensuring that however long you have to spend in your own home and away from your normal routine, your mental health is looked after as much as your physical health.