Even people who love working from home recognize the mental toll that comes with isolation. Before COVID-19, remote workers could counter the negatives of a solo office by spending time with friends and family in social settings. Under new rules, those opportunities have vanished, leaving new and veteran remote workers in an uncomfortable spot.
Fortunately, the same types of technology that connect remote workers to their employers can help people stay sane during periods of isolation. From virtual hangouts with friends to time management best practices, check out these five tech-driven tips to stay sane while working from home.
1. Maintain your connection to the outside world.
No matter how cozy your office, you can’t live entirely within a bubble.
Reliable Wi-Fi makes the difference between a happy quarantined person and a disoriented one. Plume, a smart home services company, has noticed a major shift in home internet usage trends over the past few weeks. Make sure you don’t lose your connection to the outside world during a critical time by protecting that connection with smart solutions.
Use your reliable connection to reach out regularly to the people within your social circle. Host Zoom happy hours with your friends. Eat dinner with family members at different tables using Facebook Portal. You can also use the scheduled time-out and freeze functions to find the right balance between social time and unplugging digitally. When the world takes away traditional avenues of connection, make your own.
2. Create and track a fitness plan.
Maybe you lived at the gym before the pandemic kicked you out. Maybe you’re allergic to 5Ks and haven’t lifted anything heavier than a gallon of milk in 20 years. No matter your workout history, don’t let your body atrophy now that you’re stuck inside. An inactive person may not notice a difference, but all those walks around the office, to and from a vehicle, and around stores can add up throughout the day.
Your body and mind work in tandem, so keep them healthy by staying at least a little active under quarantine. Use a Fitbit or similar device to track your steps, and aim to get at least a few thousand every day. Workout warriors and calorie counters can download apps like MyFitnessPal to ensure they don’t stray too far from the healthy path. Whether you use this opportunity to kick-start a new fitness journey or simply invest in your ongoing health, lean on tech to make it a little easier.
3. Make the most of your “me time.”
After finishing your third rerun of “Tiger King,” you may feel like you’re failing to enjoy your time at home. Don’t beat yourself up for taking it easy, but don’t pass up this opportunity to explore something new, either.
Apps like Duolingo can help you learn a new language in a few minutes a day. Sites like Skillshare and MasterClass let you learn all sorts of new skills from some of the best teachers in the business. Take an online writing workshop, pick up that instrument you always wanted to play, or try your hand at drawing webcomics. Why not? You have all the time in the world. Spend some of it learning something new that will enrich your life during and after the pandemic.
4. Take an active interest in your mental health.
Self-care and healthy habits contribute to overall well-being, but they can’t replace direct action, especially in people who already suffer from anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. Take an active role in the management of your mental health to prevent remote work struggles from growing into bigger problems.
Meditation helps many people stay mindful and practice good mental habits. Apps like Insight Timer and Headspace provide free and paid options for meditation, good for beginners and experts alike. These apps can also help if you struggle to get to sleep on time.
People who would like to speak with a mental health professional can opt for a remote therapy service like BetterHelp or TalkSpace. Even if you’re not feeling completely out of control in this new world, an outside perspective can put your struggles in context and help you develop tools to manage the challenges in your life more effectively before they become a problem.
5. Leverage timers to break up the day.
When you work from home or find yourself without a set schedule, it’s easy to lose track of the hours and days. Without a structure that works for your life, though, you could find yourself indulging in unhealthy ways, causing your sleep schedule and productivity to plummet.
Prevent time-based obstacles from ruling your life by setting up roadblocks to bad habits. Set timers on your phone to remind yourself to take breaks, do some stretching, or get to work. If you find yourself struggling to manage your time, try a browser extension like StayFocusd or Limit to block social media and other distractions for set periods (or completely, if you want).
Kill two birds with one stone by setting timers tied to household chores. Your washer and dryer can help you break your day into manageable chunks, as can your dishwasher. As a bonus, tying timers to cleanup helps maintain a healthy environment, which provides a host of mental health benefits.
Whether you’re working remotely or just stuck at home, don’t let your mental health wane. Lean on technology to stay on track with your goals and keep yourself from slipping into bad habits. The more actively you invest in your mental health, the more satisfied you’ll be with your life — pandemic or no pandemic.