How to Reduce Stress While Working From Home

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Stephanie Buckingham

Organizational Development Coordinator

With coronavirus shelter-in-place mandates in effect for communities across the United States, home work stations have become a necessity for millions of workers. With that come new challenges and the pressure of trying to balance family obligations with work projects and deadlines.

In Freese and Nichols University training we do on QBQ! The Question Behind the Question: Practicing Personal Accountability, we discuss author, John Miller’s, point that stress is a choice. There have been many lively debates in our training when this comes up, but every group can agree on a couple main points:

  1. There are things and circumstances that are beyond are control, and the only thing we can control is our reaction to those things.
  2. How we manage stress is highly individualized. It’s important to identify what stress-management techniques work best for you.
  3. Working out is putting stress on the body, but we know that working out is good for overall health. However, working out too hard or for too long can do damage to the body (see Rhabdomyolysis). It’s the same with work, stressful situations (such as a stretch assignment) can be a tremendous opportunity for development. However, if the stretch assignment is unattainable or it is a prolonged stretch assignment, it could have the opposite effect, causing discouragement and frustration.

It’s important to know how to manage stress while working from home.

Here are some tips that can help

Take care of your own health: Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep.

Go about your normal routine. If you normally drink a cup of coffee or exercise before work, keep up your normal routine like you would a regular workday. This helps keep you in the work-ready mindset.

Take scheduled breaks. If you work on a computer or at a task that requires long periods of sitting or concentration, take time to rest your brain and your eyes, especially from staring at a computer screen. Setting an alarm for stretching and water breaks can be helpful.

Reward yourself. Divide large tasks into smaller goals and celebrate when you’ve accomplished them. This helps keep you motivated throughout the day.

Learn to say no. With your work tools being in your home instead of at an office, shop or job site, you might get more requests to add to your workload. Remember that it’s okay to say no if it’s not feasible to get the task done during your normal working hours.

Unplug when you’re done. While the line between work and home can get blurred, set a schedule with designated working hours and stick to it.

Talk it out: Speak with your manager or HR business partner if stress stems from a feeling that you face an overwhelming workload, aren’t sure of expectations or are having conflicts with a coworker or supervisor.

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Stephanie Buckingham, C.P.T.D., P.H.R., is the Organizational Development Coordinator in Fort Worth.