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Got the work-from-home blues? A few tips to help keep you sane

If you joined the masses who began working from home after COVID-19 hit the U.S., or even if you worked from a home office prior to its arrival, you know working from home has its challenges.

As CNBC reported, “It used to be that working remotely was a perk. These days it’s about survival.”

Although statistics vary, an estimated 30 million people have lost jobs during the pandemic so far. For those who are fortunate enough to still have a job but now work from home, the days can seem to blend together one into the next.

In addition, work seems to beckon more often and more loudly because it’s physically right there. (It’s kind of like opening your freezer for ice cream versus making a late-night run.)

There are some upsides to working from home: saving money on gas, not getting dressed up, no more traffic or long commutes, less in-person interruptions (at least from your coworkers) and getting a little extra shuteye. On the contrary, many people have noticed that some of the upsides of working from home can spiral into downsides once the honeymoon phase is over: not getting out much, feeling isolated, and missing real, in-person connections.

To keep work and home a little more separate, here are good reminders. Even if you have already tried them, they are worth revisiting.

Try to set a workday schedule and stick to it

A set schedule can help for two extremes: for people who are tempted to work too much (burnout, anyone?) or for those who are tempted by a shortened work day or the compulsion to do laundry or other in-home tasks during work hours.

Schedule and take breaks

Although it’s tempting to sit at your home desk so long that you have to unstick your legs from the chair, try to schedule a few 5- to 15-minute breaks throughout the day. What is your company’s break policy? Implement it at home. Working nonstop is noble, but it actually decreases productivity.

Actually leave your house

This should go without saying, but as long as you are feeling well, go do something where you can maintain social distancing. Your body needs fresh air, and we could all use a change of scenery at least once a day.

Have a dedicated office space

It is ideal (but not possible for everyone) if you can have your own office digs in a separate and private area of the house. If that’s not possible, try to implement other boundaries, such as covering or moving your workspace after hours, especially if it’s in a central hub of the home. Theoretically, this helps to keep work and personal life separate.

Reach out for help if you need it

Talk to your supervisor or utilize your employee assistance program if it gets to be too much. As we all keep hearing, this is uncharted territory, and the pandemic has brought new and different challenges.

Try to create an exercise routine

There probably aren’t too many steps from your desk to your couch, and grocery delivery doesn’t require much movement either. To boost mood and to care for your body, make daily or weekly exercise goals. Try to find something you enjoy (and likely stick with) for some much-needed endorphin release.

Self-care – what's that?

For overachievers, self-care can seem like a mirage out in the distance or something for other people. According to job guru Monster.com, 69 percent of employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout while working from home; and, despite that fact, 59 percent are taking less time off than they normally would.