No matter what field you work in, every job has elements that can lead to stress and negatively affect your health and well-being. From tight deadlines to technological problems or machinery that breaks at precisely the wrong time, the pressure is real. The American Institute of Stress reports that “80% of workers feel stress on the job, nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress, and 42% say their coworkers need such help.”
Today, 43% percent of Americans spend some time working in a remote capacity (this percentage is much higher in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic). Whether you’re a full-time remote worker or recent changes have prompted a shift in your work environment, it’s easy to feel cut-off from the valuable resources that can help alleviate the work-related stress felt by so many.
Common mental and physical effects of stress include:
Mental Effects of Stress:
- Increased anxiety or depression
- Restlessness or increased irritability
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Lack of Motivation
Physical Effects of Stress:
- Muscle tightness or pain
- Stomach issues
- Sleep-related problems (insomnia or oversleeping)
It’s impossible to alleviate work-related stress completely. Though external circumstances beyond our control usually trigger stress, how we handle stressors when they arise plays a crucial role in our mental health and well-being. The first step in reducing work-related stress is identifying existing conditions that contribute to stress and changing them.
If constant emails and notifications add to your stress, turn them off or set reminders to check your email every so often. If you struggle to work past the 3 pm slump, consider starting work earlier in the AM when you feel more productive. By doing what you can to minimize the inevitable stress of work, you prioritize your health and well-being, enabling you to be more productive and focused.
Working from home forces you to become a multi-tasking expert. Doing laundry between conference calls? Easy. Walking the dog while mentally reviewing your projects for the day? It’s an everyday thing. Successfully working from home requires the ability to juggle countless proverbial plates without breaking any.
To set yourself up for multi-tasking success, make to-do lists, keep notes on your mobile or desktop device, and utilize task and time-management software to help you stay on track and free up brain space so you can focus on what matters.
Prioritize Face-To-Face Interactions
Ask anyone who regularly works from home: without intentionality, it’s easy to go down the remote-work “rabbit hole” and go without human contact for days at a time. However, most people, especially those with extroverted personalities, thrive off of connection with others! If a majority of your team works remotely, tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts encourage face-to-face contact – even from afar.
If possible, it’s also wise to get the team together, in person, for routine co-working and mingling. This way, your remote team continues to build community and get to know each other face-to-face, maintaining their mental and physical health while doing stellar work at home.
Set Routines and Boundaries
It’s easy for work and lifelines to get crossed–especially when working from home. It’s vital to set distinct boundaries and create routines around both parts of your life to differentiate them and help train your mind to focus when it needs to. Let’s go back to our earlier example of being more productive in the AM. If you want to reward yourself after a morning of hard work, force yourself to take an hour break over lunch (and try your best to enjoy it!). Take a walk, run to the grocery store, or meditate. Whatever your routine is, allow yourself to follow it without feeling constrained.
Just like routines help train your body and mind to focus on work during work hours, setting boundaries helps ensure that you protect your time and energy outside of work hours so that you can focus on other things. Practices like snoozing notifications past 6 pm, keeping devices put away during dinner or family time, and taking an intentional break during the day to workout preserves your mental and physical health so you can work your best.
Let’s get to the Point 🟠:
1.) Minimize stressors: Identify what causes you stress and eliminate as many of those things as possible. Less stressors = less stress.
2.) Multi-task wisely: While WFH, the ability o multi-task and tackle non-work (i.e.: life) things is a benefit. Do it wisely so you can be effective at work.
3.) Prioritize face-to-face: Just because you WFH doesn’t mean human interaction isn’t important or necessary in your day. It’s easy to get sucked into your own little world. Make sure you’re prioritizing the people in your life, both at work and at home.
4.) Set routines and boundaries: When you WFH, work and life can bleed into one another. Figure out ways to keep the two separated so you can start and end your day in a healthy way.
Whether you’re new to the remote work world or your whole staff thrives from all parts of the U.S. (like our PPM team does), stress–and how to relieve work-related stress while working at home–matters.