We are all currently in a situation that we’ve never been in—a pandemic. Finding the right work-life balance before the pandemic was hard enough, and now with COVID-19 taking over the world, it feels like a whole new curveball has hit us. The struggle of juggling with our jobs, household chores, and trying to stay as safe as we can have affected most of us mentally and our productivity levels have seemed to drop. It is crucial, now more than ever, to focus on your mental health. Once that has been taken care of, everything else will fall in place.
It is normal to face minor problems in our work life and personal life. These are the kind of issues that don’t affect us deeply, and we are able to overcome them in a short span of time. But, it is essential to recognise when a situation, person, or problem is affecting our mental health.
While a little push from your manager or a slight amount of nervousness at work can yield positive results, when these things amplify, it can cause a lot of mental distress. You need to recognise the work culture your company has. And, more importantly, how your relationship with your manager is. The minute you sense toxic work culture or a manager who stresses you out, it is time for you to recognise it and act on it immediately.
Mental distress when working from home
Even though working from home is a boon for a lot of people, it can get pretty challenging at times. When you are working from the office, you are able to communicate better with your manager and your teammates. But, when you are working from home, there can be big communication gaps between employees. This can cause agitation and anxiety. The tonality you use when you are talking to someone face-to-face will be perceived exactly how it is meant, but sometimes written communication can be perceived differently. It might lead to unnecessary misunderstandings between colleagues. These things can cause distress between colleagues and becomes an unnecessary reason for problems.
Maintaining mental peace and high productivity levels
- Communication is key, especially when you and your colleagues are working from home. Be transparent about your situation and encourage others to do the same. In case of any confusion in written communication, always call the other person to avoid misunderstandings.
- Set a routine for yourself throughout your day. Knowing when you’ll be working, when you will be doing your household chores and when you have your ‘me’ time will help you set the right expectations. Communicate the same with your colleagues.
- You may have to do all the household chores by yourself, and your teammate might have someone to share that load with. In situations like these, let your team know that you are facing these challenges outside of work. In most cases, they will empathize with you and let you take the work at your own pace.
Learn to say ‘no’ when you feel overburdened with work. Don’t hesitate to use your leaves that have been piling up. Just because you are working from home, doesn’t mean you don’t need that one extra day off.
The balancing act
Whether you are having a lot of stress and anxiety or not, it is always a good practice to do everything you can to keep your mental health in check. Meditating regularly, working out at least 4-5 times a week, maintaining a journal, engaging in hobbies, getting enough sleep, pampering yourself, etc. have proven to be effective in maintaining good mental health. These will ensure that you are in a calmer state of mind, which will automatically make you more resilient to stress.
Now that most of us are working from home, we can take this opportunity to practice meditation and mindfulness. Have a dedicated workspace in your home. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by work, take a guilt-free break. Walk away from your workspace, listen to some music, stretch your body, have a cup of tea/coffee, and then get back to work. You’ll feel more refreshed, and you’ll notice that even though you are taking breaks more often, you are getting a lot more things done.
It is important to be able to differentiate between a healthy competitive work culture and an environment where the work culture is toxic. Once you recognize that, you can do what’s needed to be in a positive mental space. Productivity and mental health are co-dependent. In a work environment, lack of productivity can lead to situations that affect your mental health and that, in turn, can affect your productivity. Recognize and accept the situation, don’t feel guilty about taking breaks, and ask for help when you need it.
If you find yourself feeling too overwhelmed, please do not hesitate to take professional help.