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Mental health breaks: why they're needed while working from home

By Emilly Parris

Working from home has certainly changed the way we work in both positive and not so positive ways. What was once considered a dream is now our reality and while it has been somewhat of a blessing to spend more time at home, it has also presented us with a number of challenges, particularly for our mental health.

Many of us might be beginning to feel isolated, lonely and anxious since the lack of social contact has meant that our regular routines are no longer what they once were.

SkillsTalk will be discussing how mental health breaks can help you stave off productivity loss, concentration issues, depression, stress and burnout. Here are five reasons to look after your mental health while working from home:

1. It’s more difficult to switch off.

When work and home life are within the same context, it becomes harder to switch off. This means you’re more likely to work longer hours and have difficulty determining the best time to wind down. 

To avoid this, try to adhere to your normal work hours as best you can. Don’t take calls outside of work hours, make sure you take your lunch break and pack away your work laptop when you clock off so that you are not tempted to keep going long after lights out.

2. Your routine needs an overhaul.

to-do list concept

If you’re finding yourself becoming distracted, procrastinating or over-working then this is likely because you do not have a routine in place that’s working for you. Sticking to a routine or schedule is a proven way to stay motivated while also getting the breaks you need to survive the day. 

Your new routine should incorporate sufficient breaks, such as a walk around the block, lunch with a friend, a guided meditation or something else that you really enjoy. A routine is incredibly important for your mental health because it removes some of the unknown and gives purpose to your day, which can really help ease your stress levels.

3. Your sleeping patterns may have changed.

You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but sleep is incredibly important when it comes to mental health and of course, your health in general. You may have noticed you are sleeping in more and going to bed later, or perhaps you are struggling with broken sleep throughout the night. Now that you’re working from home, you have a chance to take a midday power nap to recharge yourself and get in some extra shuteye. 

A power nap can take up just 15 minutes of your day, but it’s 15 minutes well spent, as you let your body and mind relax. Any more than 30 minutes however, and you might end up feeling sluggish and groggy.

4. You should make time for your hobbies.

woman painting at art studio

Do you have a creative hobby or talent? Use this to break free from work and do something that makes you happy. Spend time drawing, painting, creating music – anything that you want to do or learn to do. 

When you create, you allow your mind a break from life’s stresses. Everyone needs a break once in a while. Relaxing, breaking the cycle and doing something for yourself can have a positive impact on your mental health.

5. Consider disconnecting when you can.

It’s important to be switched on for work and your friends, but if you’re finding yourself overwhelmed by emails and social media, it might be a good idea to disconnect for a few hours. Take time to be with yourself. Avoid technology at lunch, eat your food slowly, and allow yourself to be away from your phone or computer when they’re not needed.

How can I work on my mental health?

It’s important to remember that prolonged social isolation can lead to depression and other mental health issues. You may not even recognise the small changes in your mood or personality that might indicate something is wrong, so it’s important to talk to someone, whether that be a family member, spouse or a counsellor who will listen and provide you with some guidance on how you can manage your work life at home. 

Taking proactive steps to work on your mental health is one of the best ways to remain productive and keep your mental health in check.

Schedule these breaks into your day, spend time in nature and allow yourself to break free from work so that you have time to rest and recharge. These small mental health breaks, even if they’re for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, can lead to long-term mental health benefits and greater peace of mind.
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