Since the pandemic began over a year ago, working life has never been quite the same. From full-time WFH to part-time in the office, our routines have become unrecognisable, and the distinctions between work and home space have become eroded.
These blurred lines between work and home often mean we’re working more hours and transferring stress between the two, which is never a good thing! So how can we separate our work and home lives, and why is it crucial for our mental health?
Creating space where you can spend quality time socialising or just relaxing on your own is key to protecting your mental health. In the summer, outdoor buildings such as garden rooms, glamping pods, summerhouses and even treehouses provide a great way to get out of the house but stay within the convenience of your garden.
It’s inevitable that when your laptop and accompanying to-do list has a permanent home in your house, you’re going to find it harder to leave work behind. The Royal Society of Public Health has proven that 56% of workers found it harder to switch off due to working from home.
But what does switching off look like? It could be turning off work notifications on evenings and weekends or just allotting quality time with family and friends so that you can truly switch off.
Happier Work Days
By creating a distinct separation between the space you work in and the space you relax in, you can come to your workspace in the morning refreshed.
Research suggests that having more personal space aside from your workspace positively impacts your mental health. A staggering 41% of people who lived with housemates found working from home damaging to their mental health, while only 24% of those who lived independently experienced the same adverse effects.
This study shows that despite what you might think, people who have housemates (and are more lacking in personal space) have a more negative experience working from home than those who live and work alone.
Once you’ve established separate spaces for work and home lives, you should see a difference in how work stress affects your personal life and vice versa. By segmenting these areas of your life rather than integrating them, you can begin to reduce the experience of conflict between the two.
So, if work is causing a strain on your mental health, you can learn to leave that experience behind and begin to find greater enjoyment in your personal time. This practice can help to reduce work-related stress, anxiety or other mental health symptoms.
Finally, perhaps the most noticeable side effect of not switching off, over-working! A study by the business support company NordVPN Teams found that employees who work from home are logged on at their computer for two hours longer every day than before the pandemic.
This excessive overworking can have detrimental effects on your personal life, ability to get to sleep and, therefore, your mental health. However, by making a conscious effort to leave your workspace behind when the working day ends, you can ensure you’re not lingering on your laptop until 9 pm.
Having been thrown into the world of home-working in a situation of chaotic uncertainty, it’s understandable that we’ve all developed unhealthy habits that have become damaging to our mental health.
Now working from home is increasingly becoming a choice rather than a necessity; it’s essential to make sure you’re doing everything you can to look after your mental health going forward.