The risks of workplace stress have long been known, but most solutions have been focused on the traditional office environment. Today, with millions of people working from home for the first time, we’re now realizing that workplace stress is pervasive—even when your workplace is your own home.
Though it might seem counterintuitive, research by the European Union recently found that people are more stressed working from home than they were in their old workplace.
Some of the reasons people may actually face more stress by working from home include:
Though the freedom and comfort of work-from-home life seem appealing at first, many people soon miss their traditional workplace, reducing their overall job satisfaction.
For many people, working from home started out temporarily but has since become a more permanent solution. For this reason, it’s important for all of us to become aware of the stressors that our home could be triggering. By having better insight into how we’re experiencing stress, we can make the necessary adjustments to better manage stress
Signs of work-related stress can be mental, physical or emotional, including:
When these symptoms persist for too long without healthy intervention, the condition can worsen and lead to burnout—chronic workplace stress that culminates in mental and/or physical exhaustion. Typically, burnout is accompanied by strong negative feelings toward work and a decline in job performance abilities.
According to one survey of American workers, 40% of respondents stated they were experiencing burnout specifically due to the pandemic. Because of how common work-from-home stress is becoming during these unprecedented times, it’s vital that workers learn healthy coping strategies to relieve stress and improve their overall well-being.
When looking for ways to relieve work-related stress, it’s important to choose sustainable practices that you can turn to daily.
Stress-management is a highly personal skill, and what works for some people doesn’t necessarily take effect in others. However, research shows that there are some proven and universal ways that we can all use to bring more calm, clarity and centeredness to our daily lives.
Meditation is one of the oldest well-being practices in existence. In recent decades, a tremendous amount of research has led us to a better understanding of what makes this ancient technique so beneficial for our mental health.
Guided meditations, in particular, appear to be especially effective for stress-reduction, relaxation and overall emotional health. During a guided meditation, an instructor leads you to focus on something specific, such as a sound, a word, your breath or the sensations in your body. By turning your focus to the present moment, you relinquish the busy thoughts that can cause you stress. These are usually worries about your to-do list, financial troubles or any other challenge that preoccupies your thoughts.
Meditation is practice, meaning the more you do it, the better results you’ll get. Over time, you may find yourself being more patient, less worried and more in control of your thoughts. Overall, guided meditations help us to gain mastery over negative thought patterns and, instead, replace them with a sense of calm we find within.
You can find lots of free guided meditations on YouTube, or you can take advantage of one of the many science-based meditation apps, such as Calm or Headspace. To prevent work-from-home burnout, try a short meditation session before, during and after work, taking time out to prioritize stress-management.
Sleep quality is directly tied to mental health. During sleep, not only do our bodies repair themselves by regenerating cells and restoring tissues, but our minds are also given a chance to relax. What the mind does during sleep is fascinating. It consolidates our memories, integrates new information we’ve learned, eliminates toxic waste and undergoes many other processes to recharge and refuel us for the next day.
Getting high-quality sleep leads to better mood, increased immune response, improved mental clarity and heightened physical stamina. Without enough sleep, we’re more susceptible to the effects of stress, including stress, fatigue and increased risk of sickness.
But how do you know if you’re getting enough high-quality sleep? One way is to pay attention to your sleep patterns, recording both the amount of sleep you got and your mood when you wake up. Over a few weeks, you may begin to notice a correlation between less sleep and more stress. Another way is to use a health monitoring device, like a FitBit or Oura Ring. These wearables track your breathing and heart rate throughout the night. In the morning, they provide you with a full breakdown of your sleep quality.
In addition to becoming aware of your sleep patterns, you also need to take active steps towards achieving better sleep. Having the right pillow, mattress and sheet set is critical to your ability to relax, and get the deep sleep you need to regenerate fully. Pillows and mattresses made from high-quality memory foam are the ultimate solutions for deep rest. The material conforms to your body, cradling you in the most comfortable position possible. Memory foam pillows and mattresses reduce tossing and turning, so you get fewer sleep interruptions.
If you’re struggling with work-from-home stress, it’s important to examine your sleep habits and make the necessary changes to improve the quality of your rest. By getting a good night’s sleep as often as possible, your mind and body will be better equipped to manage stress and improve your mental well-being.
Researchers found that one reason why remote workers have been experiencing such high rates of burnout during the pandemic is due to working longer hours than normal. In uncertain times, employers need all hands on deck. But working too many hours straight without enough breaks is one of the fastest routes to burnout. If you find that you’re working longer days, it’s time to incorporate relaxation breaks into your daily routine.
Relaxation is a personal practice, but it should be something that leaves you feeling fully recharged and ready to get back to work. The home office is the perfect place to create your own relaxation space. Choose a corner of your office, away from your desk, to dedicate as your timeout zone. Add a comfortable recliner or chair where you can escape to relax, take some deep breaths and listen to music or a guided meditation.
Zero-gravity chairs, like the Perfect Chair by Human Touch, are the ideal recliner because they counter the physical effects of stress on the body. Leaning back into a zero-gravity chair, your spine is supported in a neutral posture that evenly distributes your weight. The result is decompression of the spine and surrounding muscles, allowing you to sink into deep relaxation. For added restoration, some recliner models, like the Gravis Zero-Gravity Recliner, also offer air massage to further soften tense muscles.
Enhance your relaxation breaks by incorporating other rejuvenating solutions, like aromatherapy diffusers for stress-relief or a weighted blanket for soothing comfort. To experience the full benefit of a relaxation break, be sure to spend a minimum of 15 minutes away from work—enough time to counter the effects of stress on the mind and body. Set reminders to take multiple relaxation breaks throughout the day.
Consistent, conscious breaks, whether in relaxation, meditation or exercise, are essential to preventing work-from-home stress and burnout.
Our mental and physical well-being are crucial to staying productive at work and enjoying our lives. Relax The Back is committed to providing total wellness solutions that promote both physical and mental well-being. From sleep to relaxation to massage, Relax The Back has the solutions you need to achieve mental wellness while working from home.