If you say you work from home, you get envious looks from the traditional 9 – 5ers. They assume stress management for the home-based worker is easy and that life is calm. Yes, the benefits of working at home are endless. You can pick your own schedule. You have the freedom to work from any location, whether it be from home or from a library in another country.
However, working from home doesn’t come without its own stress. Many home-based professionals, like traditional office workers, struggle with stress. We stress over our to-do list and completing everything on time. We become nervous when we run into a technical difficulty. We look for help when we hit a roadblock. The difference between the office worker and the home-based worker, is we resort to YouTube and Google to solve our problems instead of coworkers or an IT department. Unlike an office, our boss and coworkers can’t see that we’re at our desks ‘working’. Don’t lie, there are times you made it look like you were busy when your boss was around, but you were, in fact, on Reddit. Home-based workers have the added stress of proving our productivity and accomplishing as much as possible in one day. While this is great, it often results in working many hours overtime and extra stress that follows us everywhere we go. We’ll cancel on a family dinner or decide to work instead of spending time with family and friends. Of course, everyone will do this from time to time. However, when this occurs frequently and stress begins to run your life, you need to look into stress management for the home-based worker.
To help you, we’ve come up with suggestions for Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker.
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – MOVE.
If there is one thing you take away from this blog post it’s this – you need to move. I repeat. YOU NEED TO MOVE. Traditional office workers, unless they go to the gym on their own time, get less than 30 minutes of physical activity at work. This includes walking into an office, getting up for water or the bathroom, grabbing something from the printer, or going to lunch. If you walk or bike to work, hats off to you for the added exercise! However, most workers either drive or take personal transportation. If you work from home, you may get as little as 15 minutes of physical activity. 15 MINUTES. You’re only moving for 15 minutes out of the 1,440 minutes per day. Think about it. You could stay in your home all day and barely walk the equivalent of one flight of stairs. It’s understandable. You don’t want to be away from your computer and miss anything. Maybe you put off working out because you want to finish another item on your to-do list. Before you know it, it’s 8 PM at night. You’re exhausted. You can barely keep your eyes open and walk in a straight line, let alone lift weights. Thus, you begin the endless cycle of putting off the gym until forever.
The Surgeon General recommends at least 40 mins of rigorous activity four times a week. You aren’t getting anywhere near that working from home. Try scheduling a fitness class during the day, instead of a lunch hour. You probably eat in front of your computer anyway. If you aren’t liking the idea of the gym or a fitness class, go for a run, or go for a walk. Do something to get out of the house and away from your computer. It will do you a world of good to boost your endorphins and release stress. It’s only 40 minutes, you have another 1400 minutes in the day to work.
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – Be Realistic with Your Daily Goals.
If you work from home, you most likely create a daily to-do list. If you aren’t making a daily to-do list, you need to, and fast! That in and of itself will decrease your stress from knowing you aren’t forgetting something. But how much is on your to-do list? Can you really finish it during your workday? What can you actually get done during your 8 to 10-hour workday? You can’t fit 30 hours of work in 15 hours. Why put in on your list as such?
Be mindful and realistic when you make your to-do list. Trying breaking projects up into smaller completion goals and deadlines. You would set it up as such in a normal office setting. Why not use the same organization while working at home? Set yourself up for success by making realistic daily goals. Don’t be fooled, I’m not saying make an hour-long task consume the entirety of your to-do list for the day. There is a happy medium between low balling a to-do list and making it unrealistic. If you finish your list before the work day, great! Start on the next item you need to do. It’s a lot easier to get ahead and feel comfortable at work than it is to constantly stress because you feel so far behind from never getting through a to-do list.
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – Set Hours.
Yes, you work from home. However, that does not mean you need to be working every minute you’re awake. Everyone needs balance and time off. Without rest and balance, you will be burnt out in no time. Many home-based professionals shy away from working a typical 8 hour work day, although the 8 or more hours may not be consecutive. Regardless, home-based professionals have noted in surveys and interviews that they found themselves working hard at home than they ever did working in an office. They said they felt pressure and stress to prove themselves and show that their work quality and performance had not only remained high but increased after being granted the opportunity to work from home.
The result of this is home-based workers began working on the weekends and throughout the entire day to get ahead and complete projects. This is great. Sometimes working 12 hour days and weekends is what it takes to get the job done. However, it’s when this becomes a habit that you need to reassess what you do. Keep in mind too, that if you don’t take a break, your performance will begin to slack. Think about it. It’s easy to overlook mistake if you’re too close to a project. We see it all the time with typos. Set a time to start your day, and end your day. Traditional office workers don’t sleep in the office and neither should you. Stay fresh. Stay healthy!
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – Know When to Say ‘no’.
The idea of saying ‘no’ can be quite intimidating. You don’t want to come off as brash or entitled. You also don’t want to give off the impression that you aren’t a team player or don’t respect the needs of your coworkers. You may want to prove to yourself that you can do it all. However, if you overload yourself too much, your stress levels will rise exponentially and you’ll implode.
Home-based workers in particular struggle to say ‘no’. They don’t want to jeopardize their standing at work. Plus, because you aren’t all in the same location, it’s hard to tell who is working on what. To solve this, check out our article on the websites and apps you need for work as a home-based worker. In the meantime, be honest with yourself and your coworkers. If you start saying ‘yes’ to every project, you’ll become too spread out over too many projects. You run the risk of missing an important detail or deadline. What’s worse? Saying ‘no’ or saying ‘yes’ and then causing a major problem at work? If saying ‘no’ is too much, try saying something like, “Sure! I’d love to help. Would it be okay if I finish this project and this before I lend a hand?” This shows that you want to help, but you aren’t going to jump in and commit until you can dedicate yourself to the project. You’re also showing that you are, in fact, working and not being lazy. Finally, you ask if it’s okay to hold off on joining right away. If it’s time sensitive and a priority that can’t wait, the person who asked will let you know and you can adjust.
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – Get a Pet, Plant or Both!
Animals provide companionship, something needed when it’s just you are working from home. Studies have shown that animal provides great therapy for people. Colleges will bring shelter animals to campus once a week during the semester and every day during finals to help students take a break and de-stress. Animals help give a boost of endorphins and create an escape from the stress of work. Think about it. How many people do you know that will stay stressed after a minute of holding a puppy? No one. If you have a dog, it will also help you remember to get up and move!
Plants are great things to keep in your office. They help filter your air and provide a sense of calm to any setting. Studies have shown that having real plants, not fake plastic trees, have helped workers stress levels remain lower and keep their productivity levels high. There is also researching being done that shows that plants help us stay healthy. We’re less likely to get sick and more likely to eat healthy foods. Your parents and grandparent weren’t wrong when they told you to go play in nature because it’s good for you.
Stress Management for the Home-Based Worker – Know When to Push Through and Know When to Quit.
Everyone deals with stress on a daily basis. We can usually push through it and get our work done. You may even pull an all-nighter and crash afterward to get through a mountain of work. That’s great, do what you need to do, but keep checking in with your body and mind. Sometimes we get so caught up in the stress of what we need to do that we can’t fully function and perform to our highest potentials. We even get sick from stress. These are the points we need to recognize so we know when it’s time to walk away for a bit, take a break, refresh, and go back to it level-headed. This is no easy thing to do. It takes a while to master it. Pay attention to how your body is reacting. It will tell you what you need. There is no harm in taking time to regroup. A few hours to regroup is much better than taking days off because you’ve become so sick or even hospitalized. Yes, that’s right hospitalized. People have been hospitalized from the effects of stress. Remember, work smarter, not harder. The key to doing this is paying attention to what your body needs and taking care of yourself, so you can better manage stress. When you feel stress taking over, try some of these quick coping for stress management for the home-based worker.