Working from home has become a norm for remote workers and full-time experienced freelancers. However, with the sudden changes, restrictions and lockdowns caused by the COVID19 situation, 1 in 5 Australians are suffering from stress and mental health issues. Being an experienced remote worker doesn’t mean you are immune to the mental health crises being faced by the majority of the population. Juggling multiple projects concurrently while maintaining what may seem like normal levels of stress at all times can be challenging. Remote work also tends to be more stressful due to the often long hours required. For this blog post, we have compiled some tips to avoid Burnout and prioritize your mental health as a new remote worker or a full-time freelancer.
First, let’s begin by understanding Burnout.
A term coined by psychologist Herbert Freudenberger in the 1970s “Burnout is often described as a deep exhaustion or frustration from too much work, which leads to decreased efficiency, resentment for the work required, and lack of enjoyment in your life.”
Burnout is actually much worst than ordinary fatigue as it causes excessive loss of motivation and makes it challenging for people to cope with stress and even handle day to day responsibilities. Moreover, if left untreated, it can lead to serious psychological and physical health issues like depression, heart disease and diabetes.
The Mental Health Statistics
According to Forbes, 53% of millennials were already burned out even before the pandemic, and baby boomers show a 7% increase in Burnout from the pre-pandemic level, which was about 24%. Additionally, The Mental Health and Self-Employment study from Leapers suggests that almost two-thirds of freelancers suffer from poor mental health due to work-related stress. Another survey by Movemeon conducted among a community of over 50,000 independent consultants worldwide (who work on a freelance, interim or permanent basis) reported that nearly half (47%) of all respondents faced deteriorating mental health due to COVID19.
So, What can be done to take care of your mental health?
The most important aspect of watching over your mental health is being consciously aware of the level of stress you face every day. Additionally, there are a number of healthy activities and habits that can be adopted to tackle any exhaustion and issues you may face due to work and the global COVID19 situation.
1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news
It is always a good idea to spend some time away from all the stressful news. Consider disconnecting from your computer screens, social media and TV. It is necessary to stay informed, but hearing about the pandemic can be stressful and upsetting. Limit watching the news to a couple of times a day and probably after you have finished the high priority work tasks, so you are not distracted.
2. Stretch, move around and exercise daily
This one should be a no-brainer to remote workers and full-time freelancers since they tend to work for many hours in a day. However, people often sit in front of their computers and neglect the importance of moving around and exercising. If you don’t have time to exercise outside of working hours, try doing it during breaks. This can help give you more energy throughout the day, so it’s important to be mindful of this exercise. You can also try stretching, breathing exercises or yoga at your desk if you don’t have enough time.
Even with the strict restrictions in place due to COVID19, we are allowed to go out for exercise. Use this time to destress and perhaps go to a nearby park as being around nature helps many people destress. Maintaining your physical health can also help improve your mental state.
3. Try to Meditate
Active individuals who meditate and exercise daily are reported to have improved physical and mental health, as well as decreased risk indicators for psychological issues. The centre for Disease Control and Prevention also recommend mediation as many studies have reported that it may reduce blood pressure, symptoms of anxiety and depression and even help people with insomnia.
4. Don’t forget to eat healthily
Due to the importance of numerous projects taken over by experienced freelancers and remote workers, they often work non-stop for hours. Many also forget to eat proper meals as they have to meet deadlines. Needless to say, most experienced remote workers have strict schedules in place and are able to manage their work but eating proper meals is highly important. Additionally, try to avoid eating your meals in front of your computer screen and use this time to disconnect from all the stress. Another helpful suggestion is to keep your kitchen stocked with healthy snacks so if you don’t have the time to make a proper meal, you can quickly eat something nutritious.
5. Put some effort into your physical appearance
No one can deny the comfort of working in their pyjamas but getting dressed properly can make you feel more productive as it signals that you are in work mode. Therefore, maintaining a healthy routine of getting up, taking a shower and putting on comfortable outfits is essential when working from home. In addition, try to avoid the working-from-bed habit because failing to leave your bed and adequately preparing yourself for the day can leave you feeling as dishevelled as you look.
6. Pay attention to your social connections
Social interactions play an essential role in ones well being which in turn positively impact employee engagement and performance. However, social interactions are much easier in a physical work environment, and opportunities to communicate diminish when you’re working from home. This point is critical for those who live alone as they don’t have the support of any family members or friends either. Make sure you connect with your friends and family over the phone or through video calls. Discuss your daily routines or try creating some virtual activates with your friends.
7. Encourage healthy boundaries
One of the hardest aspects of working from home is creating boundaries between personal and professional life. These blurred lines between work and private life have also extended working hours, as many remote workers report to be working 2.5 hours longer every day. So, make sure you have a designated spot for working and try separating your work step-up from the rest of your home. Setting healthy boundaries also include having a clear partition between work schedule and personal time. Ensure you avoid taking any work-related phone calls or checking emails outside of work hours and convey this to your work teams or your project connections and managers.
8. Validate your emotions and seek additional help if necessary
As we mentioned at the start of this section, make sure you are consciously aware of your mental health. Look for any changes in motivation, laziness or discomfort. Mental health affects all aspects of people’s lives, including physical health, home life and work life. Hence, at the very least, make sure you exercise outdoors, maintain a healthy diet and get enough sleep. Additionally, make sure you have direct access to mental health resources to take care of your wellbeing. The Australian Government is offering mental health support to everyone in these difficult times. You can also join virtual wellbeing communities of freelancers like Leapers and other organizations like Beyond Blue and Mental Health Australia if you need additional help.
ConsultXperts encourage a sense of community and support among everyone we connect with, whether it be our experts or clients. We hope everyone remains safe and takes care of their mental and physical wellbeing in these challenging times. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are in need of any support, and hopefully, we can guide you to the right resources available to provide you with the help you need.