Looking after yourself – practical tips on working from home

We are all adapting to a new way of doing things and for some people this means working from home. It can be difficult adjusting to a new working environment, particularly one which may be accompanied by new challenges. A change like this can cause demotivation, stress and anxiety, which highlights the importance of looking after our mental and physical wellbeing 

Dr Sika Turner, Senior Clinical Psychologist, emphasised the importance of taking care of yourself during this time at a recent Employee Forum. She suggested identifying small things you can do throughout your day to help look after yourself. You can view her suggestions here. 

It is important to ensure that your work area is set up correctly. This includes having a supportive desk chair that is adjusted to the appropriate height, ensuring your laptop or monitor is adjusted to the appropriate height and distance, and making sure the area is free of trip hazards. 

Monash Health has provided a Coronavirus working from home checklist and an Occupational Health and Safety working from home checklist  that will help ensure you have what you need to continue working safely from home.  

Often, it is easy to lose track of time and find yourself sitting for extended periods of time. Standing up and walking, even if it is in the same space, can help with physical strain. This may include standing up to stretch, getting a refreshment, or stepping outside for some fresh air. During these short breaks, you can also do some basic exercises to help alleviate tension or stain on your body. You can find more information on exercise on the Monash Health COVID-19 website   

When faced with a new working environment, it can be challenging to develop a productive routine. There are several ways in which you can bring structure to your workday while working from home, including: 

  • Managing your email notifications – Research has found the average person gets 65 to 80 notifications a day. While turning them off completely may not be helpful, you can try setting specific times which you check email notifications. Some applications allow you to schedule ‘quiet time’ where email notifications are stopped from coming through during specific hours of the day. 
  • Setting start and end times – when working from home, your workday can often blend into your personal life. Setting a hard start and end time to your workday can help ensure that you keep barriers between work life and personal life. It can also help to get dressed for work in the morning and change out of work clothes at the end of your workday. This can also help separate work life and personal life.  
  • Identifying peak productivity periods – with a new work environment comes new distractions. It is easy to have interruptions to your day and a decrease in productivity. A good way to tackle this is to identify the hours where you are most productive, and structure your workday around those times. 
  • The Pomodoro Technique – this technique can be helpful in avoiding burn out. It involves breaking up your time into 25-minute, uninterrupted blocks with small breaks in between. After a few rounds, you take a longer break and then repeat the process as necessary. 

Our Thursday Employee Forums have a focus on health and wellbeing. Throughout these sessions, you have sent in some great tips about things that have helped you while working from home: 

  • “A self-care plan is very important” 
  • “A good pair of headphones for clearer audio in meetings and calls” 
  • “Having a lunch break away from my desk” 
  • “Doing small tasks from other rooms in the house to give me a change of scenery – a nice way to enjoy the afternoon sun while being productive!” 
  • “Finding a playlist that suits my taste during the day” 
  • “Stepping out of the ‘COVID Bubble’ – switching off social media and the news for a few hours and finding non-COVID related activities to do” 
  • “Using Teams to facilitate open conversations we would’ve otherwise had in the office – keeping the banter and fun alive!” 
  • “Assuming positive intent – communicating via email can be tricky sometimes, its important to try to approach things by assuming positive intention” 
  • “Two things that help me are drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep” 
  • “I spend 10 minutes a day doing a paint by numbers – it shifts your mind away from everything happening around you 

You can find other helpful resources such as guidance on technology, working from home toolkits and frequently asked questions on the Monash Health COVID-19 website. Try to remember that feeling stress and anxiety during an uncertain and unpredictable time is normalIf you need support, Monash Health has a range of resources available to employees, including the Health and Wellbeing page on the Monash Health COVID-19 website, the Call a Psychologist service and EAP. We also aim to bring further health and wellbeing content during our Thursday Employee Forums.  

Approved by Karen Lowe

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