It’s easy to get down in the dumps when you’re working from home. It’s not uncommon to spend long hours cooped up by yourself while you’re responding to emails, cranking out code, or banging out blog articles.
These situations are a breeding ground for depression and burn out. It’s important to get in front of the issue and prevent it from consuming you. Mental health problems can be like quicksand. Before you know it, you don’t even have the desire to fix the problem. The following are some examples preventative maintenance you can use to manage your mood and stay productive.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a mental health expert. For instances of chemical imbalances or other severe mental health issues, you should consult a professional. These tips are meant to provide guidance for otherwise healthy individuals to avoid the short-term and moderate down swings in mood often associated with working from home.
Get Some Sunlight
Every morning when I wake up and I get ready to start my day I open the windows and let in as much light as possible. If it’s a nice day, I’ll even make it a point to go on a walk. While it’s true that too much sun exposure can be bad and cause cancer, too little sun exposure can be just as bad for you both physically and mentally.
Getting 5-15 minutes of direct sun exposure 2-3 times a week has been linked to increased vitamin D creation and prevention of certain cancers. In addition to that, getting healthy doses of sunlight has been known to improve sleep conditions. Improved sleep means improved memory, attention span, mood, and reflexes.
Get a Plant
There’s conflicting data about the efficacy of plants as a cleaner of toxins in the air, but there seems to be more agreement that plants can boost your mood. Plants improve concentration as well as boost memory and productivity.
Plants are incredibly low maintenance. You get the stress reduction and building of empathy associated with caring for a living thing but none of the responsibility of a cat or a dog. Depending on the type of plant, you may not even have to water it every day.
There are numerous benefits to regular exercise. Both indoor and outdoor activity can alleviate stress and improve mood. Exercise also brings with it the obvious physical benefits. I’ve also found that using mid-day exercise can provide a break. Sometimes this can boost my creativity when I’m struggling to come up with a solution.
As with most things, your success with exercise will be increased if you establish a routine. I’ve been sticking to weight training Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I do cardio 6 days a week with alternating light and heavy days.
Maintain “Working Hours”
When you’re working for yourself, it’s easy to let it overtake your life. The lines between ‘work’ and ‘home’ are blurred when you’re working from home. Often, the only difference is whether your laptop is open. This can be extremely damaging to personal relationship and your health. It’s difficult to schedule time to hang out with friends or to exercise if you’re working from sun-up to sun-down.
It’s not necessary to adhere to a 9-5 schedule, but it is important to find what works best for you and your clients and stick to it. This way you’ll get the proper amount of downtime that you need and you can focus on developing other areas of your life not work related. As I’ve written before, scheduling downtime is critical to your success.
Emailing clients doesn’t count as socializing. It can be difficult to maintain contact with the outside world, especially if you have deadlines bearing down on you. Sometimes it may be necessary to grind away, however, socializing with other humans can improve your physical and mental health as well as reducing your risk of dementia.
Along with scheduling time to rest and exercise, you should aim to fit in some time to socialize. Meetup.com can be a valuable resource for finding clubs and organizations to join in your area. If you’re religious, attend services or functions at your place of worship. You could also make it a point to keep in touch with existing friends via Skype, Text, or Calling and invite them to go on walks or have lunch.
Nothing mentioned is as a ‘quick fix’. Everything mentioned in this blog should be done on an ongoing basis as maintenance to your mood and mental health. A lot of them can seem inconvenient and a distraction from growing your business, however, it’s difficult and risky to try to grow your empire by sacrificing your health. You’ll see more scalable success if you maintain a balanced lifestyle.