How to Create a Healthy Balance While Working from Home
For many of us, living through the COVID-19 pandemic has involved major changes to how we work — most notably where we work. For people working from home, the boundaries between work and personal life can become murky.
Perhaps you are familiar with this situation: Instead of your usual morning commute, your workspace is just a few paces from where you slept the night before and got ready this morning. After a full day of work, you stand up, stretch, and take a few more steps to the part of your home where you will spend the rest of your day.
Tim Ollhoff, program director for NuVantage Employee Resource Assistance with LSS Behavioral Health, discussed the unique challenges of establishing and maintaining healthy work-life balance while working from home.
Working where you live and living where you work can make it difficult to define when work and free time begin and end. Working from home can make this balance especially tricky because of contextual specific learning, a psychological construct in which our thought processes are linked to our external environment.
If someone spends a significant amount of time on their work laptop while sitting on the couch in front of their TV, there’s a good chance they will start associating that spot with work. As a result, their physical surroundings might remind them of a big project causing them stress at work at the end of the day when they’re trying to unwind while catching up on their favorite show.
To prevent work from taking over your space and time off the clock, Tim recommends designating a specific spot in your home as your workspace. Ideally, this could be a specific room that you can leave at the end of day and close the door.
If you live in a small apartment, establishing this space may take some creativity. Some ideas for establishing a physical workspace are:
- Pack up at the end of the day. If your work desk is in your living room or bedroom, can you put your laptop in a drawer when you’re done with it?
- Out of sight, out of mind: Draping a scarf or towel over your computer monitor(s) or keyboard at the end of the day can help your re-direct your focus and stay present in the moment when you’re logged off.
- Lighting: A lamp at your workspace can help you create visual cues for when it’s time to be working (light on) and when it’s time to be done with work for the day (light off).
- De-Clutter: Wrangling all your charging cords, pens, documents and miscellaneous office supplies into one central location helps keep your space tidy and organized while also creating a physical boundary for your work space.
We all do our best — at work and in our daily lives — when we take good care of ourselves.
We can help ourselves feel less overwhelmed by work and more present in our free time and with loved ones by trying to:
- Get enough sleep at night.
- Eat healthy meals that make us feel full and energized.
- Make time every day to move our bodies — a half-hour walk can make a big difference.
- Stay engaged. Make time for friends, loved ones and hobbies.
For building a work-life balance that works for you, Tim also recommends learning about mindfulness — skills that help you keep focus and stay present in the moment. When you feel overwhelmed or distracted, an approach through mindfulness could be taking a moment to stand up, stretch or go for a brief walk for a mental reset.
Counselors with LSS can work with you to learn more about mindfulness to equip you with skills to quiet your mind and pull yourself into the moment. Our experienced professionals will work with you to build and maintain a balance in your life that works for you. To get started, call 1.888.881.8261 or visit lssmn.org/counseling.
For Businesses and Organizations: Supporting Your Employees
When we go into work, we bring our whole selves. When our employees are facing something difficult in their personal lives, it can often affect their ability to focus on their work responsibilities — creating even more stress for them, their colleagues and your organization’s management. But when an employee is supported in their well-being, it can benefit the whole team.
NuVantage Employee Resource Assistance is a high touch, high quality employee assistance program offered by Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota that promotes workplace wellness, enhances employee performance and improves employee retention and engagement. NuVantage services include behavioral health counseling, eldercare consultation, financial counseling, legal consultation and wellness information.
If you are an employer who would like to learn more about offering NuVantage at your company or organization, visit the NuVantage Webpage or call 800.577.4727.