Mental health strategies for remote workers

Recent findings reported by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) around mental health impacts from COVID-19 paint a picture of a nation under duress.

  • 40% of survey respondents self-reported that their mental health has deteriorated since the onset of the pandemic
  • 55% are worried about contracting COVID-19
  • 51% are stressed about vaccine safety and effectiveness
  • 20% increased alcohol use as a coping mechanism
  • 10% experienced suicidal thoughts

Remote workers are not only subjected to the broader stresses of the pandemic, but you may be contending with additional pressures. They might feel isolated from the rest of their team. If they’re working alone from home, they might have concerns about whether they are doing enough to contribute to the organization. Working remotely can be lonely and stressful.

Since most of us spend our waking hours at work, it’s also more important than ever to ensure we’re doing everything you can to keep healthy, both physically and mentally. Here are some mental health strategies for remote workers.

Focus on the positive

Positive thinking and embracing an optimistic attitude can go a long way towards strong mental health. While it may be easier said than done at times, shifting your mindset to a place of positivity can best be accomplished by adopting a regular habit of practicing gratitude. Even Harvard agrees. In one study researchers had one group of people write a few sentences each week about things they were grateful for. A second group was tasked with writing about daily irritations. At the end of ten weeks, you guessed it, the group who had focused on gratitude felt better about their lives, exercised more, and were generally just more optimistic. That’s the power of positive thought.

Manage your work-life balance

Work-from-home (WFH) doesn’t mean work-during-all-waking-hours-because-your-home-is-your-office. You could do that. But you shouldn’t. It’s not healthy, nor is it productive (if you don’t believe us, read more on the 11 hour workday). While you may be held to specific work hours, you can be intentional about blocking out how you structure your day, including being diligent about not starting early and calling it quits when the time comes. The beauty of working from home means that you have more flexibility in how you get your work done, so figure out what your optimal schedule is for maximum productivity, and work within it. Are you a morning person? Wonderful! Make the morning that time when you tackle your toughest tasks. Do you work best in the afternoons? Excellent! That’s when your heaviest lifting (workwise) should take place.

Look after your physical health

Self-care has firmly entrenched itself in buzz word territory in recent years, but with good reason. Self-care is the actions one takes to maintain good mental and physical health. You know that blocking we referred to above? It’s also a valuable strategy in scheduling time for movement within your day. In a work environment in which lunch is 20 steps away and meetings are taking place virtually, it’s critical to build some manner of exercise into your daily routine. WFH is also a great excuse for upping your healthy eating game. With a fully stacked pantry and cooking implements at your disposal for three meals a day, and nary a vending machine in sight, remote working provides many opportunities for increasing the whole foods in your diet.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) has developed a suite of resources in support of mental health. If you, or someone you know, is in need of deeper support, Crisis Services Canada, Kids Help Phone, Wellness Together Canada, and your local CMHA chapter, are all free places to turn to.

For virtual workforce leaders who are looking for strategies to increase employee engagement and productivity while optimizing team connection and resilience, reach out to Virtual Team Builders today and learn more about our customized design solutions.