Mental Health is one of the most important topics of discussion in recent times and rightfully so. As anyone working at home over the past 18 months can tell you, staring at the same four walls every day is not always good for the soul—or the mind. Those that were already working from home, such as remote PR professionals, were especially hard hit when the quarantine locked everything down; not only were they staying at home for work, but now they also couldn’t leave it for pleasure. That negatively impacted mental health for many.
Although restrictions are lifting, mental health should still be top of mind for remote PR professionals. Yes, that means taking better care of YOU and understanding how your actions can encourage others to protect your mental health as well. Here are 5 ways to protect your mental health while working remotely.
Bring on the Fuzzy Slippers
Let’s face it, working remotely has some definite perks. For example, no one takes the last cup of coffee and leaves the pot on the burner, and no one’s around to pilfer your lunch or snacks. If you need to, you can roll out of bed at 8:50 am for a 9 am meeting and no one is the wiser. But although those that work mainly in an office environment think work from home is all about sweatpants and fuzzy slippers (Note: some days it is!), recent studies have shown that remote workers are actually more productive than those in an office setting.
But it definitely takes some work to get to a place where working remotely and mental health are well balanced. Working at home, and across the multiple clients remote PR professionals usually juggle, can have its downsides as well. The onus is on you to fix this by setting clear boundaries with your clients about both your expectations and theirs. After all, being “always on” can wreak havoc with your mental health. Limit how much time you spend checking your emails and Slack during post-working hours to ensure you’re not always on.
Simple Changes Can Reap Big Rewards
Having clear guidelines for when it’s time to work and when it’s time to call it a day helps many remote PR professionals maintain a better work-life balance. You need to balance productivity with self-care; otherwise, you risk burning out. So, turn off the cell phone, shut down the email and take notes. Here are some proven tips that can make your days a bit easier, while putting you on the path to positive mental health.
- Change your view (physically, not emotionally). Pick a new room or even your backyard to work for the day, or even longer. You may find you’re more productive and in a better frame of mind when you take a break from your traditional office or desk. If you can take calls while outside on the patio, do so. If not, try working at the kitchen table or even in the living room. It doesn’t have to mean a permanent change, but could lead to one if the set-up works well.
- Make your breaks count. Everyone needs a break, but its how you use them that can positively or negatively impact your mental health. Eating a sandwich at your desk while scrolling through email on your phone is extremely relaxing for some people and stress-inducing for others. Try stretching or taking a short walk to revitalize your body and your mind.
- Socialize with colleagues. Even as a remote PR professional, you probably work with colleagues who could also use a break from work. Make sure to take time each week for a “water cooler” chat. Make time every day to text with colleagues, check in personally, share stories, and ask how people are doing. If your company uses a messaging tool like Skype or Slack, add a “water cooler” channel to help encourage personal interactions across the team.
- Get your groove on. Listen to music when you’re doing rote tasks (dancing optional). Dealing with 50 emails is much easier to swallow when your favorite songs are playing in the background. Just remember to turn the music when it’s time to get down to more mind-intensive tasks.
- Multitask differently. There is a joke about remote workers who tout the flexibility of working from home because it allows them to get things like laundry done. It seems silly, but taking those short breaks to change laundry over or empty the dishwasher helps you break away from the screen and video calls for a few minutes (always a good thing) and get things done around the house. These little breaks from the action aren’t long enough for you to lose your concentration, but they do help give you extra free time in the morning or evening that could be spent working out, watching a sports event or even prepping for dinner.