Working from home can be a struggle sometimes.  You can see the laundry waiting to be done, and the postman always calls with a parcel just as you’re trying to present in a meeting. The desire to hibernate is strong, and whoever else is sharing your home right now doesn’t always appreciate your need to concentrate (human, feline, canine or other). 

So, we have 10 small things that you can do to make it bearable. 

1 – Light

There isn’t a great deal of natural light around right now, as the evenings are closing in, and the weather’s grey in general. But make the most of what there is. Try to work next to a window, if you can, and try to get outside every day, to maximise your uptake of Vitamin D.

Use a white or daylight light bulb in your working area, rather than a ‘warm’ toned one, to help improve your mood.

2 – Greenery

Houseplants are important, and can reduce stress levels and anxiety, according to a study published earlier in the year.

Caring for a growing thing, and seeing things growing in our homes even when everything outside is losing its leaves, can be beneficial to our moods as well.

3 – Me-time

With a busy diary, it’s easy to lose sight of time for yourself. Make sure you schedule yourself a lunch break (and take it), and book appointments for a walk, or a bath, or other activities that help you unwind. And don’t keep sneaking back to your desk after dinner to finish things off!

4 – Lights in the tunnel

Make sure you have things in the calendar to look forward to. It can get a bit like Groundhog Day, with an endless stream of similar days, and no highlights, so try to plan ‘events’, even if they’re simple things like going out for a drive. Or a mini Christmas party by Zoom for your colleagues.

Or the VSF AGM on 15 December, which will have a small element of Christmas party at the end – you’ll need to bring your own mince pies though – sorry about that!

5 – Food and drink

Eating properly, with healthy foods and drinks in sensible quantities, will achieve many things. You’ll boost your immune system. You’ll boost your productivity. You’ll boost your energy and morale. You’ll even help your body be more efficient at keeping warm, if you choose warming, slow-release foods to fuel your day.

It’s easy to snack, when your kitchen is just a few steps away, but if you stock up with healthy snacks, and can keep the chocolate out of sight, your body will thank you!

6 – Exercise

It doesn’t have to be training for a marathon, or running every day, but even a little bit of exercise will help keep your body, and your mind, in better condition. There are lots of ideas around for exercises you can do indoors, just a few minutes at a time – see our Winter Workforce Wellbeing page for some links.

Taking a short break from sitting is good. Your concentration and blood flow will improve if you can stand up and walk around for a few minutes in every hour.

7 – Sleeping

Many people have experienced difficulties getting to sleep, or staying asleep, this year, and there are many solutions out there that can help you. Experiment, and find something that works for you. There are some suggestions on our WWW page for that as well. You’ll definitely feel the benefits from a good night’s sleep!

If you are able to adapt your schedule to your body’s natural rhythms, (night owls, larks – this is you) you will be more productive. Make it work for you, and take advantage of these strange times, if you can.

8 – Write it down

If you find your brain is scrambled right now, journalling can really help. Even simply writing your jumbled thoughts down can benefit you, but many people find that the action of writing it down helps to organise our thinking. Jotting down goals, or things to do, and reflecting on the good things, as well as the stressors, can really help reduce stress.

being able to chat to colleagues over the office kettle can sometimes serve this function, so if you’re not comfortable writing, make sure you have chats with others from time to time, to download your thoughts and get an outside perspective on things.

9 – Anti-social media

Scrolling through social media and news can be a cause of stress for many people, and while it’s important to use these channels to keep in touch with the world, and with friends and family, being able to turn it off is vital too.

Could you set a time limit on your phone – half an hour perhaps? Or a curfew, for an hour before bed time?

10 – Notice the little things

Being thankful, and expressing gratitude, can really help us to remain grounded when our thoughts take a dark turn. A tiny flower bud on an otherwise dormant shoot, or a child’s smile, or something delicious to eat – remember to notice the good things.

Take time also to notice the good things about working from home – being able to watch online training videos from the comfort of your own sofa, or being able to work with your cat on your lap aren’t things that you’d be able to do in an office!