Sleep & Stress 

As today is National Stress Awareness Day and also, incidentally, the first day of a second lockdown, I thought it might be useful in the last of my 30 days of stress tips to give some thoughts on how you can manage the stress when working at home. We all know how difficult this can be with kids running around, demands from partners, working longer hours and never feeling like we can switch off. 
 

A Dedicated Workspace. 

 
First, establish a dedicated work space - ideally somewhere where you can leave your work stuff out and undisturbed. The less distractions the better and just having an organised space will subconsciously affect your stress levels. If you can’t have a space where you can leave your stuff out and where it is out of sight when you are not working, and you have to use the kitchen table etc, then it is a good idea to use the same place every time, so that you get used to working when you are in that space. 
 

Ground Rules 

Establish some ground rules - this is particularly important with kids, partners, friends etc. It is difficult for kids to understand that mummy is working and not just at home to play with them or that when you have the door to the spare room shut, they shouldn’t come in without knocking first and only in an emergency. But it is as important to establish with relatives and friends that you are “at work” and not available for a chat on the phone or a meet up to have a coffee. 

Social Media 

No social media - except for work reasons. It is so easy to get distracted by Facebook, Linkedin, WhatsApp etc that we find ourselves wasting hours every day doing nothing more productive than seeing what everyone else is posting. So, unless part of your job is to respond to or create social media posts, leave it until you finish for the day. 

Distractions 

And talking of distractions - it is also very easy to get distracted by the dog that needs a walk, the ironing or washing up that needs doing etc - save these tasks for when you have a break 
 
Talking of breaks, it is important to have regular breaks during the day, away from the desk - this is the ideal time to load the dishwasher, play with the dog in the garden etc. Getting some fresh air can be really beneficial. 

Create a plan 

You can do this either by specifically writing down a schedule with times allocated to different aspects of your job, or a prioritised to do list. A friend of mine breaks his day up into 20 minute sections and he finds that really useful as he feels he can fully concentrate for that time and then switches it by doing another part of his business for the next 20 minutes etc. Some people find it useful to have a particular routine for the beginning and end of the working day. The beginning of the day may be to go for a morning run, get a cup of tea, put on a particular piece of music, switch off the TV etc and at the end of the day making a to do list for the following day, switching off the computer and take the dog for a walk. 

Regular Hours 

Maintain regular hours. It is all to easy to find yourself working into the night to get a particular job done. Would you be doing that if you were working in the office? Chances are that anything not achieved during the day would be left until tomorrow, so try and adopt the same mindset when working from home. Of course, one of the benefits of working from home is that you can be a bit more flexible, but you need to acknowledge when you have done your “time” for the day and it is appropriate for you to stop. 

Eat the Frog! 

This is a well known saying. We often have a part of our job that we really don’t enjoy doing and because of that we put it off and find other things to do instead. This is where the phrase eat the frog comes from - if you ate a frog, anything else wouldn’t be as bad so it is best to get it out of the way as quick as you can so that you can enjoy the rest of the day doing the things you prefer. 

Socialise 

Socialise with colleagues - whether it is a weekly get together on zoom or a quick phone call over lunch. You wouldn’t go to work in the office and not talk to anyone, so talking to your colleagues either online or on the phone is essential for minimising the sense of isolation that people often get when working from home, especially if they live alone. 

Positive Thinking 

Finally - think positively and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy - you think something is going to be awful, then it probably will be as you will be looking for things to confirm your thoughts, but if you think something is going to be fine - the chances are that it will be, as again you look and see things that re-inforce your belief. Something as simple as smiling can have a huge impact on the way you feel - even if the smile is one that you have to force initially. 
I hoped some of this has helped - things are going to be tough for the next four weeks at least and managing your stress is going to be very important. Try some mindfulness practices as these are really good for long term stress relief and perhaps practice the square breathing or Heartmath exercise that I shared in earlier videos if faced with a particularly difficult situation and you need an instant de-stressor. Last but not least, if you are feeling stressed, then talk to someone about it. 
 
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