For a long time now, people have been compelled to work from home. Before the pandemic, this idea seemed like a fascinating one available to a select few, but now the very same privilege has driven most of them to more stress and tiredness than working from office.
The online study conducted by Your Amigos Foundation, a Kochi-based NGO, explored the physical, social, psychological, and financial effects of work-from-home on 165 working professionals of different age groups drawn from across the country. Some of the interesting findings of the study are:
- Nearly 49% of the respondents were experiencing work-from-home for the first time in their careers.
- More than 55% people claimed to have worked for more than their usual office hours and 91% among them complained of doing so without receiving any extra incentives.
- About 33% claimed that they were denied leave as employers questioned the need for leaves when they were already at home.
- Work-from-home has severe impact on one’s health. In the survey, 56% of the respondents complained of back pain, 52% of sleep disorders and nearly 38% of frequent headaches.
- Time spent with their family has been considerably reduced with 54% complaining about the same.
These stats show quite a gloomy picture of working from home. Other than the pandemic fear, this arrangement of work is a big source of anxiety, restlessness and boredom amongst people. Here are some of the common sources of stress that many work-at-homers face:
- No Social Life: Human beings are social animals and being confined in one place and having no interaction with people will automatically lead them to anxiety. In high-intensity work situations, the more isolated an individual is, productivity usually has a downward trend.
- Devices always by the side: With phone and computer being the primary medium to interact with the employer, an employee is always vigilant and has an eye on them. This leads to more usage of social media apps as well, which significantly affects mental health. Being on alert all the time and checking your phone also leads to restlessness.
- Lack of Structure: Being at home becomes too comfortable after some time that it makes the person lethargic and non-structured. Waking up just at the time of office meetings, irregular meal timings or taking bath at night after work often leads to disturbance in the routine which sub-consciously affects people’s moods.
- Too Many Distractions: Frequent door-bell ringing, dealing with neighbourhood sounds (gardeners, trash trucks, etc.) getting non-work-related calls and texts, access to TV/web series at daytime etc. create distractions and interrupts people working-from-home throughout the day.
- Less Physical Exertion: A lazy body leads to a lazy mind. Lack of exercise can impact one’s sleep quality and overall mental health. If you are less active during the day, you might not be as tired at night. You may have trouble sleeping and your work may suffer the next day.
If you are facing these stressors then you are not alone! With majority of people working from home these days, it has become the new-normal. But the good news is that you have a lot of hacks at your disposal for managing the stress. Here are some strategies which you can apply in your life:
- A Designated Place for Work-from-Home: Slouching on the bed with a laptop on your lap can be disastrous. Designate a specific corner in your room as your work place and stick to that place while working. This will subconsciously direct your mind towards working whenever you sit at that place. It may also help you leave your work “at the office” once you are done with your day. It could be a normal table and chair or bed study-table. If your budget allows, you can also set up a home-office with proper installation of desk and other equipment.
Mental & Physical Workout: Sitting for a whole day and gazing at the laptop screen is neither good for your physical health nor for your mental health. A short meditation in the morning and even 30 minutes of yoga or exercise can do wonders. There are different apps which you can use, like Map My Run, Fitness Buddy and many more which will boost up your motivation. It de-clutters the stress chemicals in the brain and helps you to increase energy levels. Well, the benefits of workout are never-ending.
- Say No to Phone for Some Time: After spending your whole day keeping a check on your phone and working on the laptop, give yourself a break from all the digital devices at night and early morning. Take out time for things you would enjoy doing. A little stroll on terrace at night would definitely reduce some of your stress.
- Get Comfortable Saying No: Work extending over your working hours or meetings on weekends could take a toll on your mental health. Being at home does not mean you are available 24X7! Create a balance between your personal and professional life. Get comfortable saying NO to work when it becomes too much to handle. Don’t let your personal time be occupied in office work, when you can spend time with your family, cook, eat, read a book, watch movie or just sleep. You can achieve this without becoming unreasonable and gracefully letting the team know that you are fully available during work hours and unlikely to be available after that unless it is an emergency.
- Reward Yourself: Self-rewarding is a very underrated phenomenon. Most of the people don’t usually practice it or don’t know about it. The Incentive Theory of Motivation suggests that behaviour is motivated by a desire for reinforcements or incentives. Don’t be hard on yourself all the time. Set your rewards that if you complete a certain task, you would reward yourself with an ice-cream or anything which is appealing enough to make you complete that task. And once you complete, stick to your promise or next time, you won’t believe in your own promise, thus losing all the motivation. It’s a very effective practice where you are your own boss and set your own rules.
- Connect With Friends: We are hearing this phrase a lot these days, “If this pandemic would have occurred 20-30 years ago, what we would have done!” That’s because, today you can connect with your friends through video calls, online games and what not! It’s very important to hang out virtually with your friends even when staying at home. Because everyone may have different schedules, set up a regular time to video chat or call each other, and add it to your calendar as a reminder. Don’t let social-distancing hamper your social life (thanks to the digital era!).
No one knows for how long this arrangement of work-from-home will continue. The best we can do is adapt ourselves according to the situation, accept it and work around the constraints not to lose ourselves.