More and more people have adapted to working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak this year. 

The promise of flexibility, better work productivity and no commute are some of the highlights of working from home - not forgetting being able to save that extra cash you’d normally spend on your lunches. 

But the grass is always greener on the other side. If you are staying with elder parents or children who don’t understand the concept of ‘work-from-home’ boundaries, you may wish that you were living alone instead. Conversely, if you are living alone, you would wish that you were living with housemates or your family to beat the feeling of isolation and loneliness. 

It is not uncommon for someone to live alone these days though, especially younger workers who wish to gain global experience. However, living and working alone in a new city can make one feel deserted and isolated. These tips can help you stay mentally healthy and positive while working from home and living alone.

how to overcome the feeling of self-isolation when working from home

1. stay socially connected

stay socially connected while practicing physical distancing
stay socially connected while practicing physical distancing

Keep in touch with your friends, family and colleagues. Use video calls and instant chat tools to stay connected. Living alone gives you the perfect setup to do so. You can even choose which room you’d like to take the call from and there won’t be any awkward walk bys.

Just because you live by yourself doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play. These small interactions can make a huge difference to your mental well-being. If you’re planning to make a meal, call your mother or aunty and ask them to guide you through your process. You could also call your siblings or friends if you need help fixing some cables or setting up the router at home. Or call your best friend for a chat if you’re having a bad day.

Besides asking for help, you should try to gather your friends and family from different time zones for some entertainment. You can download add-ons like Netflix Party to watch the latest TV show or movie together, or play online games such as Cards Against Humanity or FIFA20.

2. own your workspace

work from home office setup
work from home office setup

Every workspace looks better with a few leafy friends. Not only will a plant brighten up your desk, these leafy greens are proven to help lower blood pressure, boost productivity, and lower anxiety levels, among many other benefits. Your work day will start off a little happier each day.

You can also have a different theme for your workspace every month. You could put some fairy lights in a mason jar during Christmas or use a pineapple pen during the summer season. If you are a techie, look for ways that you can make your entire workspace wireless or invest in a really good screen with adjustable lighting to protect your eyes.

And no matter what type of worker you are, invest in a good chair with a great back support. A quality chair should have lumbar support, cushion or contour to help you sit up straight and alleviate your back pressure. It should also be adjustable, so that you can find the right height between having both your feet flat on the floor and your elbows perpendicular to the table.

3. take a walk

benefit of walking breaks at work
benefit of walking breaks at work

Working from home doesn’t mean you have to stay in your room the whole time.

You probably got some fresh oxygen from your desk plant, but make sure that you’re getting some of the real, good stuff. Go outside and get moving. A quick walk around the neighbourhood can keep you awake, refreshed and uplifted. It’s also a good time to call and connect with your friend or family while on the walk.

Getting out and about whenever you can is great for your own mental health, which could be impacted by long periods of isolation. We recommend taking a 15-minute walk twice a day, once before 11am for your skin to soak up some Vitamin D and another after work to enjoy some evening breeze.

If you’re feeling up for it, run instead of walk. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which would motivate you to do more when you return to your laptop.

4. alexa, play some tunes

music and productivity
music and productivity

Working in silence is the last thing that you should be doing. Being alone with your own thoughts can be pretty scary and things could go south really fast.

Studies have shown that music has a positive effect on efficiency, creativity and happiness. So take some extra time to curate your own Spotify playlist or choose one from the default and play it through a speaker to create a more conducive work environment.

If you’re one who gets carried away singing to the latest hits, perhaps it’s better to go with instrumental music or lofi beats. These songs are less distracting, especially when you’re drafting an email. Keep those energised and upbeat songs after work. When the music mood changes, you’ll also be more likely to stop working and move on to other things.

be okay that not everyday will be the same

It’s difficult living away from your friends and family during a pandemic. It’s easy to feel worried and anxious for them, as they do with you too.

There will be days that you may not feel particularly good, and it’s important to acknowledge that it is okay to be feeling that way. Take things slow, change into something more comfortable, and prepare for bed earlier than usual. If it helps, allow yourself to binge watch feel-good movies like 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine or 1988 Tom Hanks’ classic - Big.

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