Stress relief when working remotely: How to scale up social—not physical—contact
Working remotely certainly has it perks, but it also has some downsides. Most of these revolve around the isolated nature of working outside of an office environment. In absence of a team, remote work can feel very lonely at times. Without a trusted colleague to bounce ideas off of, spur you on, or resolve issues, you may lack motivation and feel like you are coping alone.
When working remotely, how can you relieve the sense of isolation associated with a lack of connection?
When we work side-by-side with others, our coping mechanisms often involve sharing concerns, ideas, and a bit of our personal lives with colleagues. But working alone doesn’t mean you have to be isolated. Here are a few tips to help you relieve stress and scale up on social interaction virtually instead of physically.
Pick up the phone
Communication is key in most organizations, but when working remotely it’s even more important. Phone calls enable you to get an instant response to your questions and talk through ideas and concerns without having to wait between each email/text interaction. You’ll have the satisfaction of problem-solving in a few minutes than over the span of a day (or week!). Hearing a friendly voice does wonders when you are feeling isolated, too.
Video calls are one step up from a voice call. Seeing a colleague smiling encouragingly when you are feeling stressed is a huge motivation. With team meetings on Zoom or Skype, you won’t have to stress over problems alone.
Remember that your day isn’t all about work
At your regular workplace, you most likely get a break for lunch and regular breaks throughout the day. When you work remotely, this should be no different. Take time out to connect with people in a way that isn’t through work. Call a friend, have lunch with someone else in your house, or spend some time doing something that makes you feel good and relieves stress.
Keeping active helps us concentrate and keeps us motivated, as well as having a profound impact on our mental wellbeing. When you feel your energy levels dip, get up and move around. There are a wealth of exercise videos you can do on YouTube or you can even join a class virtually. This will allow you to feel a connection to others throughout the day, even if you’re not physically with them.
Change your perspective
Working at home may come with some negatives, especially if your whole family is home with you and you are expected to home school, parent, and work. Rather than look at how stressful it is, change your perspective. Think of being home as the most positive thing you can do right now. Staying at home as much as possible means you are protecting your family; not going out means you are limiting the spread of COVID-19. This is certainly a difficult time, but it is a sacrifice that could save lives and keep you and your loved ones healthy.
Meditation has been found to have massive benefits on beating stress and relieving anxiety. Make sure you take 10-30 minutes out of your day to just ‘be’. If you don’t fancy meditation, just sit quietly with no distractions. If you want to try meditating, learn to ignore the chatter around you and quiet your mind. Focus on your breath, count, or just sit. There are a number of apps like Headspace, Calm, or videos on YouTube that will give you a guided mediation if you’re new to it.
While working remotely requires some adjustments, it doesn’t have to mean working in isolation. Humans are social creatures and we need interaction from others. We just need to get creative about how we do it.
About the author: Nikki Vivian is a Career Coach and owner of From Kids to Career, which was set up to support women who are returning to a career, or looking to move in a new direction after taking time out to raise a family. Nikki works with Mums to find their true passions and to re-build confidence that can be lost after a break from the workplace. She believes passionately that being a parent does not put you at the bottom of the pile when it comes to your career. Nikki owns CV writing company Confident CV and has 8 years’ experience working in Careers for Cardiff University and works as a writer. Most recently, Nikki is writing content for businesses, organizations, and individuals on how to transition to remote working. She also coaches and delivers online training on this subject.