Dana Riddle, our Child Safety Officer, shared with us some great tips and tricks to improve our wellbeing whilst a large number of us are working from home.
In theory, working from home sounds pretty awesome. There’s no daily commute, so you may get some more zzz’s in the morning before logging in for the day; you get to forgo the usual office attire; you have flexibility in what your daily schedule might look like (sneaky loads of washing in between meetings!), and all from the comfort of your domain! How great does that sound?
As it turns out, the reality of working from home can be somewhat different than what our expectations of it might be. There are definitely some positives, but there’s also some challenges that we may face, and definitely some things that we need to look out for and be aware of in terms of our self-care when working from home.
Right now, working from home is not like we’ve ever really known it. It’s not an invention by any means; countless workplaces have offered the flexibility of working from home for many years, and many people run their own businesses from home. It’s a system that works – and if you have been fortunate enough to work from home previously, you’ll know that a great work/family balance can certainly be achieved.
But now that balance is a little bit out of whack. Working from home is not really a choice you might have made for yourself – it’s been made for you. You’re not just working at home, you’re isolating at home. Your partner may be working from home also (or may suddenly not have their employment). You may have family members who are vulnerable and you’re not able to care for and assist them as you want to be able to. You yourself may be vulnerable. You may be separated from your loved ones who are interstate, or international.
There’s a fair bit on your plate, to say the least! Which is why self-care has never been so important. So, what can we do to make sure that we’re remembering to take care of ourselves when working from home during this really turbulent time?
Draw a clear line in the sand
Home is our safe haven. It’s a place we can come back to at the end of a long day at work, shake it off at the door, and relax and unwind. When we bring our workplace into our home, the lines can blur and we can find it really hard to separate the two. It’s important to be able to be disciplined and have a schedule about when you’re switched on for work and when you switch off. It’s very easy to slip into ‘work mode’ when you have everything at your fingertips. Unless it is urgent and necessary, don’t log into your emails at 8pm! Weekends? They’re for you and your loved ones. You need to be clear with yourself about drawing that line and making sure that you are getting some downtime. Your home needs to continue to be your safe haven.
Flexibility is key
It is very possible that your workday is going to look NOTHING like it did when you were in the office. In the beginning, you may be frustrated at the different styles of communications, delays, setbacks, distractions and technical issues. A question you might normally ask your colleague at the next desk in an instant might take an hour or so to get an answer on via emails. Meetings might be interrupted by technical glitches. You might have constant distractions while you’re trying to have phone/Zoom meetings. Your usual flow of work might not be the same and you may find it hard to be as motivated as you are in the office. It’s going to take some time to work through how working from home looks for you. Give yourself some time, allow yourself some space to work it out, and understand that you are not alone in this crazy new domain!
Don’t be afraid to be honest about how you are feeling
It’s okay if you’re finding it hard to settle into your new working from home arrangement. It can be especially overwhelming as not only is this something new and unknown, but at the moment there are a lot of other things going on in the world which are quite worrying and unsettling. I can guarantee you – you are NOT ALONE in this. If you find you are struggling to know how to feel, or where to place your feelings, please know that we are all feeling the same way. It doesn’t make you soft or weak. It makes you human.
Schedule in some ‘me’ time
Even our ‘me’ time doesn’t look the same as it used to. Catching up with friends, going to the movies, eating in restaurants, going to the park, going to the gym… all of these wonderful things are on hiatus for a little while – but how good is it going to be once the restrictions are lifted! We can still do things in the meantime to be kind of ourselves and ensure our self-care is still happening. Whether it’s Zoom catch ups with buddies, board games, reading a book, listening to music, cooking, colouring in, Netflix – even getting out into the fresh air (in your backyard or in an unpopulated area), just make sure you are doing something for YOU.
Remember to cut yourself some slack. This is all unchartered territory and no one really knowns how it’s all supposed to be done. There’s no rule book. No timeline. It’s okay to say it’s hard. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to need to take some time to figure it all out. But remember, you’ve got this. You really do. And we’re all with you all the way.