Mental Health While Work from Home
This is an opportunity to streamline your life.
Says Radhika Acharya, an experienced clinical psychologist based in Hyderabad. Here are her inputs on preserving mental health during work from home, that she shared in a tête-à-tête with MarketingScoops:
Even before Covid-19, people opted for work from home.
Occasionally, if not regularly.
It is financially beneficial, as you can cut costs incurred in the commute to work.
You can also save time and stress related to commuting to work.
You can spend more time with your family.
You can have more flexibility in terms of the work schedule.
After COVID-19, work from home got normalized.
That happened overnight, and people were not prepared for it.
Nobody knew how it will all unfold, and people just went with the flow.
Initially, it seemed fine.
They started experiencing the benefits of working from home.
No commute, more time with family, etc.
Soon, the reality of it started setting in.
In work from office, the brain is attuned to a certain schedule.
But in work from home, the schedule is random and fluid.
The line between office time and personal time is blurred.
Work from home means no punctuality, and no discipline.
There is no fixed time for waking up or going to sleep.
There is no fixed time for login and log off.
There is no fixed schedule, and there are no fixed work hours.
There can be prolonged work hours, leaving one with little time for the family.
Earlier the time was well slotted for office hours, and weekends were off.
Now, they may have to get up early, or sleep late, in order to attend long distance calls.
They may have to attend back-to-back meetings, and there may be more meetings now than before.
People may have to work even on the weekends.
And if family members are spread across timezones, then the issues are amplified.
Earlier parents could talk to their long distance children working in another country, at certain time windows.
Now, they could be busy even at that time.
All these challenges can disrupt mental health during work from home.
Work from home means no office environment.
A lot of people are influenced by the surroundings.
The noise of colleagues talking.
The sight of colleagues walking around.
The temperature of the office – the high or the low AC.
Such things make up the work environment and psyche people into working.
That is now missing.
Lack of physcial proximity to fellow collaborators, can be stressful and frustrating.
Family disturbance can be frustrating.
The potential may be impacted with kids/spouse in your hair.
There are a lot of cases, when kids barge in when a video call is on.
This can be fun to an extent, but can get on to the nerves after some time.
It can lead to reduced focus and reduced efficiency.
And finally, result in stress and anxiety, and a breakdown of mental health during work from home.
They may be anxious about visibility for their hard work.
Some employees may be worried that their performance will not be recognized as no one is able to see them.
This can become a cause for anxiety, and impact their performance and job satisfaction.
Non-work hours and weekends are not fun any more.
Because of COVID-19, people are not able to party on friday nights.
They are not able to go on those long drives.
They are not able to escape to those weekend getaways, or take vacations.
They have to make every cup of coffee that they need.
During work from office, people could just get up, get ready and push off to work.
They could get their coffee without having to make it.
They could just order lunch, on an app.
Now, if they want to take a coffee break, they have to get up, go to the kitchen, and make their own coffee.
Come what may, they have to cook their own lunch.
Handling the family is getting difficult.
Especially for those with little kids.
They can’t send the kids to a creche or let a baby sitter come in.
So, they have to work and also look after the kids.
There is a 18% to 35% increase in domestic violence cases.
It is even more difficult for single parents to single-handedly execute various responsibilities.
No gymming or physical exercise is making matters worse.
Problems with mental health during work from home are rearing their head.
Radhika Acharya is being invited to conduct webinars, where employees are asking her questions pertaining to mental health during work from home.
A few people have also started seeking professional counselling to cope with the situations.
This is a wonderful opportunity to regulate life.
Says Radhika Acharya.
She says that the most successful entrepreneurs of the world start their day early, generally before sunrise.
During work from home, we should be following their example to bring about discipline in our lives.
Start the day early, and set a timetable for yourself.
Use this opportunity to strengthen the bond with your family.
Share the household work effectively, so everything runs smoothly.
Decentralize burden, and make cooking a collaborative effort where every one is assigned some part of the process.
That way, you are teaching even the kids to cook.
Yes, you can’t go on long drives, but then you can watch TV with your family, or play indoor games with your kids.
Yes, you can’t go to the gym, but you can watch YouTube and do zumba with your family. This helps get physical activity along with a feeling of togetherness.
Use this opportunity to learn new skills.
It is entirely in your hands how you want to utilize this time.
You can think in terms of switching to a new domain.
You can think in terms of radically changing your profession.
If you start learning now, by the time Covid-19 ends, you will be ready with your new skill.
You can also do some voluntary work online – such as teaching others a skill.
Use this opportunity to pursue the hobby that you never had time for.
Join that music or dance class online.
Order a yoga mat and start off with yoga.
Call people that you didn’t have time to call earlier.
Beat it with lifestyle changes and attitude.
Think positively, and keep yourself happy.
Eat healthy food.
Instead of getting frustrated, think, “WOW, I can spend time with my family.”
Change the whole thing into a pleasurable experience.
Change adverities into advantages.
It all depends on how you manage the situation.
Manage mental health during work from home, with discipline and a positive attitude.
Radhika Acharya is a popular psychologist based in Hyderabad. She has successfully treated a large number of patients in her more than a decade of journey as a Clinical Psychologist. Her qualifications include a Diploma In Clinical Psychology, M.Phil in Rehabilitation Psychology, MA in Psychology. She is currently practising at The Deccan Hospital in Somajiguda, Hyderabad. She is also an empaneled member of Bharosa, a support center for women & children run by Hyderabad City Police; and a founder-member of Darshika, an organisation for suicide prevention. Additionally, she is a columnist with many leading newspapers.