3rd April 2020
Stress Awareness Month: The importance of routine when working from home
April is Stress Awareness Month, and sure enough the world is going through one of the most stressful periods in living memory. Stress has many worrying impacts on a person; cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioural. These can include moodiness, self-doubt and demotivation, through to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, alopecia and premature tooth loss.
To mark Stress Awareness Month we are focusing on working from home, and how we can prioritise our mental health to improve our resilience and general wellbeing during this unprecedented time, and in spite of all of the things going on around us that we cannot control.
Our first piece of advice is about ROUTINE. This is important all the time, but even more important when working from home, especially if it’s for a prolonged period of time and you are not used to working this way. In fact, “routine can help us to cope with change, to form healthy habits and to reduce our stress levels”.
When we are confined to our houses, it is all too easy for a routine to fall by the wayside – if you’ve ever had a duvet day, you’ll know what this feels like. The hours can blur into one and it doesn’t take long to suddenly be confused about what part of the day you’ve arrived at.
Retaining a routine while working from home is very important to avoid this; continue setting your alarm (though no one would blame you if you grabbed an extra 15 minutes in bed now that you don’t have to commute), honour your lunchbreak, stretch your legs every hour or so, and allow yourself regular trips to the kitchen for some cups of tea.
Having a routine of this nature lowers our stress levels because once the habits are formed, we don’t have to consciously remember to do these things as we do them autonomously. Brushing your teeth, for example – this is something we automatically do as part of our routine, because we have done so for most of our lives. Routine removes uncertainty and guesswork, which in turn makes us feel in control of our time and less stressed as a result.
Keeping in a routine will also help you to sleep better at night, which is particularly important in times of stress. This is because “stress causes hyperarousal, which can upset the balance between sleep and wakefulness” creating problems in both falling asleep and staying asleep. Extend your daily working from home routine into your sleep routine, to promote proper rest and to ensure you wake up the next morning feeling ready and raring to kick your routine off again!
This is the first post of our special Stress Awareness Month series of mental health whilst working from home advice, so check back for more tips next week.