Staying 'sane' while working remotely!
Did you know that countries on average spend only 2 percent of their health budgets on mental health (in low-income countries, it's as little as 1 percent!)? According to this WHO report from 2020, this is (or at least was during the start of the pandemic) the case. It surprised me that so few resources are spent on something so important for our overall health, happiness, and contribution to society.
There's no doubt that the Covid-19 lockdowns, social isolation, and loneliness that many of us experienced, were hard on most people. Being bombarded with depressing news from all sides didn’t exactly make it easier.
I was in the fortunate situation of already working from home (and therefore being used to my own company), so, my everyday life probably didn’t seem to undergo a drastic change in the eyes of others. Despite already having set routines for working remotely and being more introverted than extroverted, I found the situation incredibly challenging. The uncertainty, stress, and loneliness during the pandemic weren't anything like my normal working-from-home life, which offers me a lot of flexibility and free time to socialise, exercise, and enjoy my hobbies.
Remember all the Zoom quizzes to 'socialise', attempts to activate ourselves by learning new skills and inner peace we tried to find? ;)
It takes a bit of self-discipline to work from home, and keeping up the motivation can be challenging at times. More than anything, it can be lonely to sit by yourself, having no colleagues to talk to. As a freelancer working from home, you have to make an effort to meet people and get your social inputs in other ways.
Here are some of my tips for working remotely (without going bonkers):
Get a good start to the day: If you're a morning person like me, make sure you get up in time, go for a walk, and have breakfast before sitting down and starting your work day. Fresh air and movement boost my energy levels straight away.
Make a to-do list: If I have a very busy day ahead of me, I like making a simple list with tasks that I can cross off one by one. I'm highly disorganised, so it helps me create some structure in my workday and cope with stress.
Take breaks: It's tempting to sit for hours without breaks if you're very busy, but it often results in one feeling exhausted in the end. I like to work for 50-55 min. and take a 5-10 min. break. Set a timer, stand up from your desk, and take a break where you grab a bite to eat, enjoy a coffee, some fresh air, a cuddle with your pet, or listen to the news or music. Anything that can take your mind off work.
Set time off to socialise: The pandemic made me realise how important social activities are to a freelancer working from home. My weekly yoga classes (for relaxation and building strength), Zumba or dance classes (to feel good), and Spanish-English exchange with friends (for fun, and mental stimulation) are crucial for my well-being. When working remotely, make sure you get out and meet other people. It's easy to postpone social events and become passive, so make sure you push yourself at times.
Enjoy some alone time: While I love spending time with people, I thrive on being by myself. A run in nature, reading a good book, listening to Podcasts (I'm addicted to True Crime) or painting make me feel so good. Good quality time by yourself is so important for your mental health.
I would love to hear some tips and ideas from other freelancers, so feel free to share in the comment box below :)
While writing this post, I remembered the following image that I came across during the pandemic.