Six More Tips To Avoid Going Stir Crazy
“I promise you there is something worse out there than being sad, and that’s being alone and being sad. Ain’t no one in this room alone.” – Ted Lasso
We are three years into a global pandemic. While great strides have been taken to return to “normal”, there are some things that will never be the same. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2019 and 2021, the number of people primarily working from home tripled from 5.7% to 17.9%. That number peaked in April and May of 2020 at more than 60%. With vaccines in place and the severity of COVID waning, many businesses have reopened and many are requiring more in-person work. However, the number of employees still working remotely is around 27% today according to an article by CNBC. I’m not going to talk about the benefits or potential drawbacks of remote work for Hiring Managers or Employees. In October of 2021, we wrote a blog and gave you 6 Tips to Avoid Going Stir Crazy Working From Home. Well, with even more people working remotely, we thought it was time to give you six more tips to avoid going stir crazy.
A Quick Recap
In our previous blog, we mentioned some of the signs that might indicate a sense of stir craziness. They included:
- Sadness or Depression
- Decreased Motivation
- Change in Weight or Appetite (that’s not just a COVID thing)
- Losing Patience
- Feeling Lethargic (I’m guilty of this one)
- Feeling Isolated or Alone
- Not Wanting to Start New Projects
And the six tips we gave for dealing with this were:
- Keep work and home separated as much as possible
- Do something right away
- Treat work like work
- Take breaks
- Have something to look forward to
- Self-check regularly
While those are still relevant and important tips, we thought it was about time to give you six more tips to avoid going stir crazy.
Six More Tips
This is something I’ve dealt with personally. While a lot of us ended up in remote work positions as a result of the pandemic rather than by choice, the majority of those working remotely would like to stay that way. Or at least a hybrid version. That doesn’t mean you still can’t suffer from isolation, depression, or lethargy as a result of working from home. I was the food & beverage manager for a boutique hotel group based out of Seattle. We had 10 locations across the US with an aggressive expansion plan. And then COVID. Now, I work from home. While I enjoy the job and the company, I miss being on my feet and active. I miss interacting with my staff. I miss talking with new and regular guests. I’m sorry, but Zoom meetings don’t cut it.
Since the pandemic also shut down many recreational activities as well, it became really easy to stop exercising. After sitting in front of a computer for an entire day, the motivation to get active after work, to go to the gym, to pursue hobbies diminished more and more. Working in the hotels, there was a clear work / home separation. I never felt like I was working when I was home. But, working from home, it’s a constant crossover of work and home life and nearly impossible to completely separate the two. And it can really drive you batty if you don’t actively take steps to prevent or combat it.
Have a morning routine
Even if your “commute” is just hopping out of bed and shuffling down the hall to your home office, you should have a morning routine to get you in the right mindset. Have breakfast and coffee. Take time to enjoy them and “wake up”. Read the paper, check your emails (not work emails), scroll through your TikTok feed, read a chapter of a book, do 10 minutes of yoga, go for a walk up and down the street. Just have some morning routine. And then, actually get dressed for work. While you might not need a shirt and tie or skirt and blouse, you shouldn’t sit at your computer in your jammies doing your work.
This was one from the first list, but I want to expand on it. Yes, regular breaks, completely leaving your home workspace, is important. Do NOT do household chores. Treat your breaks like you would as if you were in an office. Go outside for a walk, do a few exercises to get the blood flowing, listen to some music, get a snack. The reason why you shouldn’t do household things is because you will have to resume work when your break is done. You want to stay in the right mindset to keep working your scheduled day.
Invest in your workspace
You are encouraged to invest in a good mattress because you spend a quarter of your life. You need to invest in yourself by investing in your home workspace. Get a comfortable, but ergonomic chair. Have a desk that is functional and personal to you. My boss has a standing desk that fits around his treadmill that he walks all day. Decorate. Yes, Zoom has some fancy backgrounds. Not every video platform has those. You need to have a professional background when a digital one isn’t available. And make it personal. Make it a place you don’t hate spending your days in.
Organize your time
Set tasks for yourself. These should be both long-term ongoing projects and daily achievable items. Use whatever method works best for you, but make sure the method you use celebrates your accomplishments. We use Monday.com for a lot of our tasks. We’ve set annual goals, quarterly goals, monthly goals, and daily goals. Whenever we accomplish one of our goals, the status turns green and a small animation of fireworks lights up the screen. We set new goals each day that are meaningful, but realistic.
This is along the lines of the previous “have something to look forward to”, but it’s more than that. During the pandemic, everything was closed. Those of us thrust into working from home, also had nowhere else to go outside of work hours. As things reopened, it was really easy to keep doing nothing. Read a book, and go somewhere else to do it. Write a book. I did. I’m about to publish my first novel and went to a local coffee shop to work on it. Join a gym. I just got back into my boxing gym and I’m loving it. I have more energy, feel better, losing weight, and meeting new people. Go to a movie. Don’t just stream at home. Take up archery, pottery, underwater basket weaving. It doesn’t matter. Just do something.
This can improve brain function, focus, energy, and health. Half Half Travel wrote a great article on this. Avoid sugary-heavy drinks, meal prep, don’t buy junk food (you can’t eat it if it’s not there), be careful with calorie-dense foods, limit sugary and dried foods. Pack a lunch and actually go out to a park to enjoy it. Eat in a different place than your work desk. That was a lot of what NOT to eat. MSN Health has some suggestions on what you SHOULD eat. A bowl of fruit, roasted chickpeas, veggies and hummus, popcorn, boiled eggs, avocado toast, plantain chips, turkey jerky. Most importantly, buy healthy options when you’re at the store. That way, healthy options are available when you’re looking for that mid-day snack.
There are tons of websites with hundreds of suggestions on how to avoid going stir crazy working from home. Above and beyond everything else, the most important thing is always to be aware of your own health and sanity. If you are finding that you are lacking motivation to get to your work every day, if you are feeling lethargic, if you are feeling isolated, do not ignore those signs. It’s really easy to ignore them. The longer you ignore them and let the effects continue, the harder it will be to break the bad habits and the more detrimental it can be to both your physical and mental health. If you’re feeling lonely, the Crisis Text Hotline can be a great resource. If your isolation and work-from-home situation leads to more severe symptoms of depression and lethargy, there are counselors and medications available. PsychCental is a good resource for both options.
Another important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Feeling alone, lethargic, unmotivated, tired, even depressed does NOT mean you are doing something wrong. You certainly shouldn’t feel like you should just buck up and tough it out. According to an article in Millenial Therapy, nearly 66% of people who work from home feel lonely frequently. This doesn’t mean you’re in the wrong profession. This doesn’t mean you should be looking for another job that requires in-person work. This means that you are one of the majority of people who are dealing with potential negative effects of a work environment that also has a lot of upsides to it.
You can take some or all of our tips to help avoid getting to this point. If you’re already on your way there, adjusting your routine to include some or all of these tips can help prevent those from getting worse. Most importantly, if things are already bad, like Ted Lasso said you’re not alone and there is help. We hope that our six more tips to avoid going stir crazy are valuable to you.