AS employees across the country are being urged to work from home again, a Scottish charity has provided tips to staying mentally healthy whilst doing so.

Scotland was placed into another lockdown earlier this week with a new legal requirement forbidding anyone from leaving their home except for essential purposes.

Following the news, the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) shared plenty of useful tips for those who will now need to work from home, or those who are continuing to do so.

Create your morning routine

This could be making a cup of coffee. It could be getting dressed (although it may be tempting to stay in your pyjamas, it may not be the best look for those video conference calls!). Whatever it is, setting yourself up for the day can improve your state of mind and psychologically prepare you to start work.

Establish boundaries

It is easy to lose track of time when working from home, so set a schedule, and stick to it...where you can. Having clear guidelines for when to start work and when to call it a day helps maintain your life-work balance. Aim to start and finish at your normal working times.

Create your own workspace

Although it's tempting to head to your sofa with a laptop, you're may find setting up a work area helps you stay focused. If you can, try to set aside a specific area or space where you can work. If you don't have a desk, use a table or worktop. Besides making you feel like you're at an "office," this helps you maintain good posture, avoid distractions, and mentally leave your work behind at the end of the day. 

Set ground rules with the people you share your space with

There might be other people in your home. They may be working from home too or self-isolating. You may all need to share a limited amount of space so it’s important to set some ground rules. For example, when you need access to a certain area of your home; or designated times for ‘quiet time’.

Take breaks

Remember to take normal breaks, including your lunch break. Get up and move about, go for a short walk or make a coffee. Try setting a timer or alarm on your computer screen or mobile phone to remind you to take a break.

Connect with colleagues

Loneliness, disconnect, and isolation are common problems in remote work life, especially in the current uncertain and worrying situation. Making the effort to speak to your colleagues regularly can make a difference.

Get some fresh air when you can

For those who need to self-isolate, opening the window may help you get as much fresh air as possible. Try to choose a spot with lot of natural light to work if you can. Follow government advice and do some exercise outside, even a short walk can benefit you both mentally and physically. 

Drink plenty of water

People get dehydrated when they sit, and if you’re heating is still on in your home, then you’ll need the extra water to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy.

Stand up and stretch

Sitting all day isn’t healthy even if you’re at the office, but working from home means you skip your commute and have fewer reasons to get up from your chair throughout the day. Try standing up every 30 minutes or so to stretch your chest and extend your spine to reverse the hunched position of sitting, and help reduce back and neck pain.

Listen to music

If you find working from home to be a little too quiet, you miss the buzz of the office and find it difficult to focus, listen to music, turn on the radio, or put the TV on quietly in the background.

End your day with a routine

Just like you should start your day with a routine, create a habit that signals the close of the workday. You might have a simple routine such as shutting down your computer and turning on a favourite podcast, or writing the next day’s to-do list. Whatever you choose, do it consistently to mark the end of working hours. 

Reflect on your mental health

Ensure you take time to reflect on and try to be mindful of your mental health. Look out for changes in your feelings, practice self-care and be aware of any triggers or symptoms surrounding your mental health. Make sure you keep in touch with support networks, even a text, phone call or video chat can make a difference.

For more ways to protect your mental health during these challenging times, check out SAMH's online information hub here.

If you need more information on mental health click here, or to seek support click here