When remote work started taking the world by storm, workers all around the world were raving about the comfort and convenience of working from home. Social media platforms quickly became inundated with people eagerly sharing their home office, pajama bottom Zoom calls, and the ways they filled up what used to be their daily commute time. At the same time, lines between work and home became increasingly blurred, causing those working from home to become burnt out without a clear understanding of why. As more and more companies are starting to see the benefits of remote offices, with little to no plans of returning back to in-person work in the near future, here’s what you need to know about work-from-home stress.
What is Work-From-Home Stress?
Feeling exhausted all the time, even though you get to work from your couch in your joggers? You might be experiencing work-from-home stress. A poll done by Monster shows that over two-thirds of work-from-home employees are experiencing burnout symptoms. This can be attributed to several factors, one of them being not having a clear distinction between work and home.
The exhaustion and stress of dealing with the ongoing pandemic have left many with very little energy to do anything but the bare minimum. For work-from-homers, this could mean rolling out of bed and right into your work day, not cutting out proper breaks for yourself, and working way past your regular office hours. These are some of the most common warning signs of work-from-home stress.
The Warning Signs
You’re Working All the Time
You wake up, brush your teeth, feed your dog, take a seat at your desk, and start your workday. Does this sound familiar? For many workers, this routine has become a reality over the past two years, slowly chipping away at any sense of personal life you had outside of your job. If you often start your workday in pajamas and scarf down breakfast while answering emails, you might be experiencing work-from-home stress. If you go to bed wearing the same thing you woke up in without ever changing, sending off the last few emails in bed before calling it a night, you are definitely experiencing work-from-home stress.
You’re Not Taking Breaks
Although we didn’t realize it at the time, lunch breaks are a valuable time to decompress, socialize, and take a break from technology mid-day. With office life came a guaranteed hour-long break where we could tap out and give our bodies the nourishment and much-needed rest it needs to carry on with the rest of the day. Many people feel guilty taking breaks because they might not feel they “deserve” it. Others simply forget to take them. We have become so conditioned to wait for a supervisor or manager to send us on our breaks that we forget we need to do it ourselves.
You’re Obsessed With Job Security
With people across all industries getting laid off, those who continue to work from home offices are pushing themselves to the limit in hopes of securing their positions. This is completely understandable, and you are not to blame for feeling this way. Everyone has been put under immense financial pressure to prove their worth during an economy where you had to be “essential” to keep your job. Unfortunately, the obsession with job security is causing an increase in anxiety, insomnia, and a host of other mental health issues. Despite the rampant burnout, workers are not giving themselves time off. Less than half reported not planning any time off for their well-being, and nearly 60% reported taking off less time than before.
You’re Not Exercising
The constant exhaustion of spending all day at your home office in front of a screen, worried about your job security, can leave little energy or motivation for exercise. With gyms being shut down for the better part of the past two years, many lost their weekly exercise routines. Studies have proven that the more movement you incorporate into your life, the more energy you have. If you can’t remember the last time you got your heart rate up, you’re likely experiencing work-from-home overwhelm.
You’re Not Eating Healthy
Does your weekly menu rely heavily on pre-packaged meals and Uber Eats? Many people working from home get so caught up in their schedules that they forget their basic nutritional needs—easily falling into a pattern of take-out and microwaveable dinners. This is a common response to work-from-home stress, especially when you don’t give yourself the time to prepare a home-cooked meal at least once a day.
How to Deal With Work-From-Home Stress
So you’re exhausted, out of shape, constantly on the verge of a panic attack, and can’t get a good night’s sleep? You’re not alone. People all over the world are facing these and other burnout symptoms from their new work reality. Luckily, there are a few simple steps everyone can take to optimize their home office and their well-being.
Self-care can look different for everybody, and it’s up to you to determine the best self-care practices for your life. Mental health is one of the aspects most affected by working from home. Besides improving your physical health, daily movement can also impact your mental and emotional balance.
Several popular self-care practices nourish both the mind and body. Some examples are yoga, meditation, exercise, or even just going outside for some fresh air. Something as simple as going for a walk can drastically improve your well-being, as it forces you to disconnect, break from technology, and move your body. Another great way to practice self-care is to cook yourself a meal at least once a week. You’ll quickly notice a huge difference in your energy levels.
Set Up a Routine
Starting a morning and evening ritual is paramount to maintaining your mental and emotional health, especially when your home office starts to blur the lines between work and home. You can start by deciding on one activity that will mark the start of your day. This can be as simple as reading for 20 minutes, going on a 15-30 minute walk, doing some yoga, or making your favorite cup of tea or coffee. Doing something that you enjoy and that is not tied to your work productivity is important because it tells your subconscious that you prioritize your well-being.
Having an evening routine is just as important, especially after spending a full day in front of a screen. Using screens right before bed can impact our circadian rhythm—our body’s natural sleep/wake cycle—and cause difficulty falling asleep. Taking at least an hour before bed to do something that doesn’t involve a screen can greatly improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
Define Your Boundaries
At the core of many people’s work-from-home burnout is the lack of boundaries set around work. To cultivate a healthy relationship with our new home office lifestyles, we must set clear boundaries around our work day. This includes starting work at a set time each morning, having a set lunch break, and taking other 10-minute breaks throughout the day. It also includes setting an end-time to the workday and not attending to any work-related activities until the next day.
Create a Dedicated Workspace
Creating a dedicated workspace is another great way to define your boundaries around work. No matter how big or small your home is, you can always find a space for a small desk and chair that will be your designated “office.” The benefit is that you can decorate it and make it your own. That’s right—no more gray cubicles or harsh LED lighting. You can make this space as comfortable as you need.
It’s important to have a dedicated space for work. Otherwise, the couch and the dining room table will stop feeling like spaces to relax and nourish yourself—which is exactly how the lines between work and life become easily blurred.
SmartDesk’s unique lineup of all-in-one standing desks can provide you with everything you need for healthy work-life boundaries. With all your essential office tech—including multiple monitors—built into your desk, work-from-home becomes something to look forward to. All you need to do is plug in your laptop, and you’re on your way to a better work-life balance.
Balance is Possible
Remember that there are options for you to start feeling like yourself again. The most important thing is to prioritize your self-care, invest in the right tools for your workspace, and do everything possible to set boundaries around your workday. Before you know it, you’ll be a work-from-home pro.