Health Advocate Blog

Dealing with the work-from-home doldrums?

During the pandemic, many companies changed to remote work—and while some companies have shifted back to in-office work, others have not. If you are still working remotely, you may be experiencing challenges due to your workspace. If you are feeling lonely or less productive at home, are having trouble separating work life from home life, or are forgetting to engage in healthy habits, all of these things could result in you feeling a little down.  

If you have a case of the work-from-home doldrums, it’s possible that a few simple shifts in your environment and habits could help you feel better both on and off the clock. Try these tips and see if they make a difference!

Change your environment. If you’re getting bored by the same ol’ view, change your environment as best you can. While not every idea listed here will work for everyone and every home workspace, you could consider:

  • Working in another room—try switching from your couch or home office to the dining room table or, on days where the weather is nice, your balcony or patio.
  • Going where the sun goes—if you’re working in a room that doesn’t get much sunlight, think about shifting your workspace to the sunniest area in your place.
  • If you can’t change where you work, add some creature comforts to make the area more pleasant to work in, such as houseplants, a light that mimics sunlight, or hang up some photos of people or places that make you smile.

Do something for you beforehand. If you feel like your whole day is spent on work-related tasks, try getting up a little earlier to do something for yourself before your work day begins. Wake up an hour earlier to work out or take a walk, meditate, make a healthy breakfast, spend quality time with your partner/child/pet, practice gratitude or journaling, or any other activity that you find restorative.

Go outside during breaks. Getting outside in nature can benefit your health and your mood! Whether you take a 5-minute walk or simply sit outside observing the sights and sounds around you, an outdoor break can be very restorative and help you come back to work in a better mood.

Make a call instead of sending an email or IM. It’s easy to feel disconnected and even down when your only communication with coworkers is digital. While email and IMs are easy ways to reach someone, sometimes you just need a little more human interaction. When appropriate, schedule calls or even video meetings with colleagues—it’s always good to hear (or see) a friendly voice during your work day!

Update your workspace for maximum productivity. Clear your space of clutter—having clutter around can often make you feel stressed or down. Include space to put a bottle of water to drink as you work. Hang up a vision board or quotes that inspire you. Keep your cell phone away from your workspace unless you need to use it for work-related business.

Set a reminder for regular stretch and water breaks. It’s easy to get sucked into your to-do list and just keep working. But both you and your work will benefit from you taking brief breaks to look at something other than a screen, stretching and/or standing, and sipping some water. If you have trouble remembering to do these things, set an alarm so it’s easier to remember.

Reinvigorate yourself with music or sounds. Some people work better in quiet, and others work better with some noise. While not everyone is able to listen to things given the nature of their work, if you are able to, consider playing music that is upbeat and keeps you energized. If you find that the lyrics in music are distracting but you’d prefer not to work in silence, consider using a white noise machine or listening to nature sounds like ocean waves, chirping birds, a babbling brook, or a rainy day.

Be sure to take your lunch break! If you get a lunch break at work, take it! Taking your allotted time to eat and drink something nourishing, plus step away from your screens, can help you return to work feeling refreshed, setting yourself up for a great rest of the day.

Have something to look forward to afterward. Reward yourself for another work day completed by having something enjoyable to do when you log off. Whether it’s reading a book, having a chat date with a friend, making a delicious dinner, or catching up on a favorite TV show, get up from your workspace and go somewhere else to unwind and do something that you enjoy.

One last tip: If you have tried several strategies to get out of the doldrums and you feel like nothing’s working, it may be time to seek additional help. Connect with a licensed counselor or, if your company provides an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of your benefits package, give them a call.