How do I separate home and work when I am working at home?
by Michele Meehan, Registered Psychotherapist at BMAW
This question has been coming up lately, as many of us have been working from home for more than a year now. Many of us do not have adequate and/ or private work space at home – some of us are working in our bedrooms, just a few feet away from where we sleep. As a result, work is encroaching on our personal time more and more, causing stress, sleep disruption, fatigue, low mood, and even burnout. Consequently, a lot of us are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and/ or depression.
Given that it looks like we may have to cope with working from home for awhile longer, it’s important to create a boundary between work life and home/family life to help us stay well. It can help to create a daily routine that signals to your psyche that the workday is over, and personal or family time is starting. Fortunately, our minds and thoughts are powerful, and we can use our thoughts and intentions to help create and maintain the boundary. Here are some things you can try:
- At the end of your workday, “leave work” – leave your home and go for a walk, and “return home”. You can start your day this way as well, “leaving home” in the morning, and walking for a bit, and coming “in to work”.
- When work is done for the day, turn off your computer, and put it away, out of sight. You could also cover it with an appealing cloth, scarf or a shawl, to physically symbolize the day’s transition. If you can, try to cover other evidence of work, such as files, or paperwork.
- Choose clothing that signals a difference between work time and personal time. When getting ready to work, choose “work clothes”, and when work is done for the day, change into leisure clothes. That said, I suggest not getting right into pajamas, so that you also have some separation between personal time and sleep time.
- Make some time for transition between work and personal time to help signal to your mind and body that you are going into a different mode. This might be time for meditation, a relaxation practice, or other contemplative practice.
- Take a bath or a shower after work as a way to start your personal time feeling fresh and relaxed.
- Use sage, incense, or other herbs or essential oils to cleanse your workspace, and your own energy field.
- Hold a clear boundary about work time, and resist the temptation to work beyond your schedule hours. If an idea occurs to you after work, make a note to yourself to do it the next day, rather than using your personal or family time.
I hope you find that one or two of these options helps support you to create a sense of separation between work time and personal time, and helps you find a reduction in any feelings of anxiety or depression you may have been experiencing.
If you have questions, or feel that you need more support trying to find this balance, please contact us or book an appointment, or contact Michele at firstname.lastname@example.org for individual counselling.
We are here for you and any of your questions… email our clinic at email@example.com or call 416-232-2780.