May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and as we have conversations around healthy habits and ways to find support, we know that it’s especially hard for those working from home. It comes as no surprise that the last 12 months have had a severe impact on mental health, particularly for those looking for more work-life balance.
Today, we’re highlighting practical ways in which you can take care of your mental health while working at home. If you’re a parent also functioning as the teacher and disciplinarian, we understand the days are long and the hours are few. Scroll below for some tips designed with your wellness in mind.
Set a regular schedule + maintain structure
Whether or not you thrive with routine, regular habits and consistency have shown to help when things are particularly stressful. Taking the mental work out of what you’re doing and how will leave room for the unexpected.
How do you set a schedule?
Create a morning routine.
Wake up at a consistent time every day and create a regular routine. That could look like working out at a specific hour, eating breakfast, and taking a shower. Ensure it’s a routine that you can keep when the shift to the office happens.
Dedicate a workspace.
Reduce the possibility of distractions and keep boundaries between work life and home life by designating a space where you work that is (ideally) separate from the rest of your home. Don’t have a space? Get creative! Move a table or a chair to face a different direction that you’re used to, put a whiteboard up to make notes on, or get a desk.
Schedule your time and take consistent breaks!
It’s important to take time away to reset mentally and give your body a break from sitting down. Set aside an hour for a lunch break and use the time however feels necessary: half an hour of stretching or yoga goes a long way, or take a walk to get a coffee or a treat that will keep you motivated through the day.
Here are some beginner yoga videos that are perfect for taking a quick break:
Shut everything down at the end of the day.
Protect your work-life balance by making sure you’re really tuning out at the end of the day. By setting specific work hours and maintaining those boundaries, you’ll be able to protect yourself from burning out and blurring the lines between life and work. That means putting your computer away, turning off notifications, and not checking emails. Some exceptions might apply occasionally, but try to make this your consistent routine.
Tips for parents working from home
Even though you’re absolutely a superhero, no one expects you to act like one at the drop of a dime. Your employers know this time is hard, and if they don’t, know that you’re allowed to communicate specific boundaries that work for you. Begin your discussion by giving them context: my children have school at this time, and breaks at this time, therefore I’m unavailable at certain times of the day.
Do your kids still take naps? Maximize that time, or any time where they’re focused on a task, to get the things done you need to really focus on. Naps aren’t an option? Try implementing “quiet time” at designated times during the day, everyday. Once your children get used to the new structure and rhythm of quiet time, it will be easier for them to understand that you need space and they will become more accustomed to entertaining themselves.
Lean on your community.
As they say, it takes a village to raise a child! If you have access to extended family and friends who are willing to help you out, lean onto the help you have to make life work for you right now. Don’t be afraid to ask — we all need support in different seasons. Take turns doing playdates or home-school days with other parents, or get babysitting help from in-laws or neighbours.
Ultimately, if you’re struggling with exhaustion or mental health issues are arising, communicate to the people around you that you need extra support while you work on yourself. Remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, it will be harder to care for others around you. Setting up a good routine, communicating boundaries and expectations, and leaning on those around you will help you navigate this season more effectively. It may feel daunting, but it’s only temporary. You’ve got this!