This guest blog is written by LawCare. LawCare promotes and supports good mental health and wellbeing in the legal community.
Many of us will be working at home for a while which will be challenging. Being out of the office and a change in our routine combined with limited social interaction in these difficult and uncertain times might cause feelings of worry, fear and loneliness. At LawCare we don’t have an office space and all our team work remotely, so here are our tips from our own experiences to help you look after yourself when working at home.
Set up your space
It’s important to try and create boundaries between work life and home life, and having a dedicated area to work in can help. Not all of us will have an office or spare room to work in, but try and find a quiet area of the house where you can set up a desk area.
Stick to a routine
As tempting as it is to stay in your pyjamas all day or sit at your laptop at 10pm it’s important to get dressed and try and stick to a regular routine and your usual working pattern, where possible. This will help you stay focused and keep work separate from home life.
If you have to change your normal working hours or work flexibly due to childcare or other commitments set boundaries where possible. Perhaps you and your partner can do shifts, or you can work early in the morning or late at night in order to take some time off in the day. You might want to have a set time of day where you can’t be disturbed. Let other colleagues know about your routine and boundaries so you can manage their expectations.
Keep in regular contact with colleagues, friends and family using phone, Skype, Facetime rather than just sending emails and texts. It can be isolating working at home and we all need to feel connected to each other. It’s especially important to look out for those who live alone, make sure you are checking in with people.
Avoid constantly checking your emails, whats apps and news feeds. It’s very easy to get distracted and sometimes too much information will trigger feelings of worry. Turn off alerts and check them every few hours so you can stay focused.
Take regular breaks, including a lunch break, just as you would if you were at the office. If practical try and get out for a walk every day.
Prioritise self care
It’s easy to let healthy habits slip when we are at home but make sure you eat well, get to bed at a reasonable time and find time to do some exercise. You might not be able to go to the gym but you can go for a run, do some gardening or do an online exercise video.
It can be harder to call in sick if you are at home anyway, and many of us will be tempted to do a few hours work even if we are unwell. If you are ill, you really should rest, follow any medical advice and not work at all to protect your future health.
Mindfulness is about being in the present moment. None of us know what the future holds so try and focus on the here and now rather than the bigger picture.
We’re all in the same boat, but these difficult, uncertain times will affect some of us more than others. If you’re finding it hard to cope, just talking to someone can make you feel less worried.
LawCare offers a free, confidential emotional support service to all legal professionals, their support staff and families. We’re here to listen, with helpline calls, emails and webchats answered in confidence by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law. We also have a network of peer supporters.