Mental Health

Focusing on Your Mental Health While Setting Boundaries at Home

Dad working from home with his son
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Are you starting to feel like your home is turning into more of an office, or a school, or both? The thought of finding tranquility and balance may feel more difficult today than it was before our lives were changed by the coronavirus pandemic. From routines, deadlines and ways of life, for most of us, our day-to-day now probably looks nothing like it did a few months ago.

At times like this, it’s more important than ever to focus on your mental health. It is perfectly normal to not feel quite like “you” right now, so be gentle with yourself during this challenging time. By setting boundaries at home to create separate work, school and down-time spaces, you can hopefully find more peace and comfort like you did when your home was just a home.

It’s important to note that “work-life balance” might not mean the same thing for every person or family. If you aren’t the parent or employee who is still meeting all deadlines and teaching their kids a new language at the same time — you are not alone. Doing your best is all you can do right now, and just remember, this is temporary.

Ways to Find Balance at Home

At one time, not so long ago, we had balance, structure, goals and intentions. Or at least we were striving for that. During today’s times of uncertainty, our biggest focus should be building a healthy environment with a positive outlook. That may seem hard, but a shift in outlook can make all the difference.

Create a Routine

If you’re working from home while your kids are also at home, try looking at your workday differently — maybe by splitting up your hours into morning, midday and nighttime work sessions. You may have an easier time concentrating at night after the kids have gone to bed or in the morning before they wake up. You may need a trial-and-error period before you figure out what’s right for your specific circumstances.

This may feel like a staycation for kids if they’re learning at home right now, but the World Health Organization (WHO) states that it’s still important to establish and maintain a routine. Stick to consistent bedtimes and wake times, and try to maintain a structure for learning times, play times, meal times and so forth. This can help kids feel more secure, and it can also help you schedule your work hours during times when you know they’ll be occupied.

When creating a schedule, don’t forget to build in some dedicated family time.

Commit to being fully present during this time so you can truly connect. If you have a work calendar, you can block off this time or add it to your schedule as a meeting.

Be forgiving with your routine and schedule if things don’t go exactly according to plan. This is just meant to help make the most of each moment.

Get Organized

Has your dinner table also become a school desk? Or maybe a home office? Would it be feasible to dedicate a space for your own work, a space for your children to do schoolwork, and separate spaces for your family members to each spend their downtime?

If it is, set these boundaries to help prevent your work or school day from overflowing into your relaxation time. Of course, it is understandable to think that we don’t all have the space in our homes to designate separate areas for each need.

If that’s the case, establish transition times for multi-use areas of your home. For example, from 7–8am, your kitchen table is for family breakfast together. At 8am, the table becomes a school or office workspace, and as the afternoon ends, you may want to have dinner together there around 5pm. Clear your work from the kitchen area before it transitions back to your family downtime space, and try to focus on conversation with your family.

Unwind With Relaxing Activities in a Comfortable Space

If you’re a parent juggling younger children at home, homeschooling and working from home, this can be an especially challenging time. The WHO suggests finding time for yourself after your children have gone to sleep.

Read a book, listen to some music, or maybe now is the time to learn how to play an instrument or pick up a new language. Before you do, look around your home, porch or yard to find a space that looks comfortable to you. Not your work desk, not your child’s bedroom floor, but a small space you can dedicate for your own downtime.

Days filled with work and taking care of the kids and pets can take a toll both physically and mentally, so it’s extra important to set time aside to unwind with something you enjoy in a space that feels safe and decluttered.

Understand What You Can and Can’t Control

In moments like these, much is out of our hands, and while that can be unsettling for some, we will get through it. Try to focus on acknowledging what you’re feeling and making the most of what you can control. It’s OK to not get it right day in and day out.

Be Informed and Feel Empowered

Some may choose to limit the pandemic news to reduce stress, while others feel more comfortable being fully informed. There is not a wrong choice here, but if you would like more information surrounding coronavirus, please visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub. You can also learn more about managing anxiety and stress during coronavirus from the CDC.

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