Working-from-home stress: useful tips to handle it

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many companies have transitioned to their employees working from home, either fully or partially. Similarly, increasing numbers of people are choosing to become self-employed and work from home. This change can result in stress due to such factors as a loss of structure and the lack of boundaries between their work and home life. Learning how to identify and manage the stressors associated with working from home can help you improve your experience on the job and enhance your productivity. In this article, we provide a list of tips for dealing with working-from-home stress and improving productivity.

9 tips for handling working-from-home stress

Stress from working from home can arise from several reasons, such as the presence of a distraction. Identifying these reasons can help you manage them, so you can reduce your stress levels and find comfort in working from home. The following are tips to help you handle work-from-home stress:

1. Identify your stressors

Identifying your stressors can help you develop strategies to handle them. Examples of stressors you may face when working from home are:

  • Lack of structure: Working in a physical office may provide more structure because it typically involves performing work activities at work at set times. A work-from-home environment may blur these boundaries since you perform professional and personal activities in the same space.

  • Distractions: Working from home may expose you to distractions that were absent in the office, such as pets, children, social media and noises from the surroundings. These distractions may affect your ability to focus on your work and cause stress.

  • Social isolation: If you enjoy social interaction in the workplace, working from home may lead you to experience social isolation. This can cause stress and affect your productivity and motivation.

Related: 11 stress management apps to minimise stress at work

2. Build a routine

Develop a schedule that contains the start and end times of your work day to build boundaries. For example, if your office job entailed working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., set a similar schedule for your home job and maintain it to develop a habit. You can also set a schedule based on your most productive hours. For instance, if you know you're most productive from mid-morning to the evening, you can adjust your schedule to this timeline.

Within this schedule, prioritise your work tasks according to urgency and difficulty so that you can handle the more manageable tasks towards the end of the day. You can use time-blocking techniques to determine how much time to spend on each task. For example, if you're working on five tasks, assign each task a suitable amount of time that allows you to complete and revise it. Include lunch breaks and other short breaks in the schedule. During these breaks, focus on relaxing and clearing your mind, so you're energised when you return to your tasks.

Related: How to create and stick to a daily schedule: a handy guide

3. Design a workspace

Designating a space for your work activities can help you create boundaries between your personal and professional life and provide a work-like environment that allows you to shift your mindset from home to work. Consider creating an ergonomic workspace that enables you to maintain a suitable posture when working. This includes getting an adjustable chair that provides back support and has armrests, so you can adapt it to your comfort. You can also get an adjustable desk that allows you to raise or lower it, so you can work while seated or standing.

A third factor to consider is the distance between your computer and your sitting position. Place it whereby you can view the screen without bending forward. Use blue light filters and ensure the work area has adequate lighting if you plan on working in the evenings to protect your eyes from straining. You can decorate your work desk with ornaments, photographs and other items to personalise it.

Related: Why designing a workspace is important (with a how-to guide)

4. Eliminate distractions

Consider eliminating distractions by monitoring your social media usage. For example, you can block any social media notifications on your devices during productive hours to focus your mind on work. You can also enhance your productivity by dividing large or challenging tasks into smaller ones, allowing you to pay attention to them. If you experience distractions from others in the home, consider setting boundaries with them so that they interact with you during your breaks and after work hours.

Related: How to stay focused when you work from home

5. Set boundaries

Set professional boundaries that align with your personal priorities to help alleviate work stress. For instance, you can inform your colleagues that you respond to work emails during specific hours or tell them when you plan on taking days off in advance. Encourage them to share their boundaries with you to create collaboration and harmony. It's also important to learn how to say no to enforce your boundaries. For instance, if colleagues want to set meetings when you're unavailable, politely decline and inform them of your availability. Other ways to set boundaries at work include the following:

  • Silence work notifications at the end of the working day, so they don't interrupt your personal time.

  • Communicate your ability to handle the tasks your supervisor assigns you in advance and state if you need extra time to complete them.

  • Adhere to the breaks you set in your schedule.

  • Consider turning the devices you use for work off after working hours, so you can focus on personal activities.

Related: 8 tips for the management of stress when you're at work

6. Connect with others

Building relationships with colleagues can help reduce stress in the workplace, whether virtual or physical. The following tips can help you connect with colleagues virtually:

  • Online lunches and coffee chats: You can schedule coffee or lunch sessions with colleagues and discuss personal interests and other non-work-related topics. These sessions can boost productivity and motivation and help you and your colleagues reduce stress levels.

  • Contests: Consider hosting regular online contests and games to boost collaboration and make work more enjoyable. Examples include trivia nights and holiday-related dress contests.

  • Groups: You can form or join groups of colleagues who share your interests. For example, you can create a group for yoga, exercise, crafts or cooking and encourage colleagues to join, so you can have a platform to connect with them.

  • Questions of the week: Develop questions of the week that allow colleagues to build relationships and introduce fun to the virtual office. For example, you can ask questions about colleagues' favourite movies or music genres.

Related: 9 virtual social activities to stay connected

7. Introduce self-care

A self-care routine enables you to achieve work-life balance, which is essential for your productivity and wellness. Think about the tasks essential to taking care of yourself, such as exercising, meditating, doing yoga, reading novels, listening to music or podcasts you enjoy, watching entertaining shows and spending time with loved ones. Incorporate them into your daily or weekly planner and ensure they become part of your routine.

It's also vital to ensure you sleep adequately. Working from home gives you the flexibility to work in the evenings, but make sure you set boundaries so that you get enough sleep and have plenty of energy during the day.

Related: How to make time for self-care while working from home

8. Be flexible

Review your current work-from-home techniques and adjust them where necessary to increase productivity and reduce stress levels. You can also research other work-from-home or productivity techniques to inspire you to develop routines that suit your work style. An example is the Pomodoro Technique, a time-management method that includes regular breaks in your work. It involves working for 25 minutes and taking a five-minute break, during which you can rest or handle non-work duties. After every four 25-minute sessions, you can take a longer break. This technique can improve your planning and motivate you by allowing you to track your progress.

Related: Guide to flexible working hours (and how to implement them)

9. Reward yourself

Working from home can present challenges, so it's essential to recognise them and reward yourself for handling them to decrease stress. You can use these rewards as motivation to improve your productivity. A few ways you can reward yourself include:

  • Take walks. During your breaks, consider taking short walks to get some fresh air and achieve mental calmness.

  • Perform simple exercises. You can do some simple stretches or other relaxation techniques between tasks.

  • Watch your favourite shows. Consider using episodes of your favourite shows or other entertainment sources as motivation to complete tasks.

  • Schedule vacations. If you're working on significant projects, plan for a vacation after submitting the project to give you something to look forward to when it's finished.

  • Invest in experiences. Consider visiting leisure centres and scheduling massages or spa visits to help alleviate work stress.

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