How to Cope With Stress While Working From Home

We’ve done a bunch of surveys and spoken to many team members and friends. And if there’s one thing that’s common to us all, it’s stress. According to a study conducted by the United Nations in 2017, home workers are under tremendous amounts of stress (and this was pre-pandemic!). A lack of structure, distractions, feeling of isolation and uncertainty – all of these can contribute to how we feel mentally and perform at our jobs. 

This National Stress Awareness Day, we have pulled together some easy tips to deal with complex emotions of stress as we all learn to navigate the tricky waters of working remotely. 

💬 Schedule time for informal chats

Most employees that work from home miss watercooler chats the most. These impromptu moments in the office can lead to a spark of new ideas and a sense of friendship among colleagues. This is not possible when working remotely, and team members may end up feeling stressed and anxious. Schedule time for informal conversations at the beginning or end of every meeting. You can go the extra mile by scheduling a daily huddle so that you can catch up with everyone daily.

With roommates, kids and small spaces, we all need a channel to blow off some steam. Taking a couple of minutes to chat about non-work-related things can help us cope with stress.

⏳ Don’t compromise on breaks

There’s a widespread belief that breaks take away from your productivity. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Stepping away from your desk, even if it is for 5 minutes can help you relax and stay focused. Stepping away from your desk doesn’t mean you have to go out for a walk. It can be something as simple as getting up for a glass of water or just performing some simple yoga poses at your desk

If you have a smartwatch, you can always opt for prompts to move every hour. If not, you can still use a chrome extension like Move It or an app like Time Out for your Mac that tell you when it’s time to take a break!

🔎 Proofread your messages

Many of us might not have thought of this while hitting send, but the tone of our message or email can sometimes cause unnecessary stress to our teammates. It is easy to decipher tones through body language or simply by the modulation of one’s voice. Unfortunately, without face-to-face interactions, this can be tough.

Reread your messages for clarity and emotional tone before you hit send. For example, sending a message that says “We need to discuss this” when you actually mean “These suggestions look great. Let’s discuss and see how we can execute these plans” can cause anxiety for the recipient. Better still, pick up the phone or jump on a video call. Trust us; it will make things easier for both of you.

💛 Stick to a post-work ritual

When you don’t have a physical boundary between work and leisure, it is easy for one of these to seep into the other. More often than not, home workers find themselves overworking without meaning to. Therefore, it is important to set healthy boundaries when it comes to switching off after work. Setting up an after-work ritual like going for a run, exercising, cooking a meal or reading can help send a signal to your brain that you’re off work-mode.

In addition to this, end your workday by making a to-do list for the next day so you can pick up where you left off. Finally, shut down your computer and call it a day.

🌐 Respect time zones

International collaboration is hard, but if done correctly, can reap excellent benefits. Start by having a dialogue about time zones and working hours, so both parties feel like their boundaries are respected. There are other things you can do to manage an international team well too. For example, delay decision making until you’ve heard from everybody on the team or determine how urgent the task is before sending it at odd hours. Sending minutes of a meeting in an email can also help team members who might not have been able to attend. 

When global teammates feel like their schedule matters to you, they feel happier, less stressed, and this, in turn, helps boost job retention!

🏆 Reward yourself

Working from home during these challenging times is stressful, to say the least. Hence creating your own reward system is a great way to tell yourself that you’ve done a good job. This can be done by creating a checklist of your day’s tasks (Checklists work wonders for your productivity, here’s how!) and rewarding yourself when you check items off it. These rewards don’t have to be food-based. They can be small things like a phone call to a loved one, some cuddle time with your pet or five minutes of social media (just five!). 

If you’re a manager or want to help a co-worker or loved one alleviate the stress of home-working, here are ways to support their mental health and help them avoid burnout