This is a collaborative post in partnership with BetterHelp.
Working from home can be very convenient, but it also requires discipline. Being in your home environment while working requires you to ignore many distractions, from washing the dishes or doing laundry to playing with kids or pets.
Another type of distraction that can ruin both your focus and your mood is keeping up with current events. There are always more news stories to read, and most of them aren’t very uplifting – quite the opposite, in fact.
If you’ve been struggling with mental health due to the challenge of keeping current events from getting you down, you’re not alone. Here are six ways to optimise your work-from-home environment and prevent current events from impacting your mental health.
1. Don’t start your day by reading the news
Research shows that news is not good for your mental health. Over half of Americans say that news causes them stress, and there’s evidence that watching the news increases anxiety and total mood disturbance. So if you want your day to begin on a positive note, reading or watching the news is probably not a good start.
Instead, try starting your day with positivity. Maybe you could write in a gratitude journal, read a few growth mindset quotes or a self-development book, or visualise how you’d like your day to go. These activities will help you cultivate a more positive mindset, rather than generate stress.
2. Block any sites that talk about current events during work hours
It’s natural to want to keep up with current events throughout the day (click here to learn about current events from a psychological standpoint), and that’s why it’s a good idea to block news sites during work hours. This way, you won’t have to fight the urge to check the news; you simply won’t be able to check it at all. There are many apps and browser extensions that can do this for you. Although this may be difficult at first, in time, it can decrease your stress levels and help you stay focused on your work responsibilities.
3. Turn off notifications from news apps
Do you automatically reach for your phone every time you hear the “ping” of a notification? Most people do. Try adjusting your settings so that you won’t get any current events-related notifications. Even better, turn off all of your notifications and keep your phone in another room while you work, if possible. This way, you’ll eliminate tons of potential distractions, not just the most recent news updates.
4. Limit the amount of time you spend consuming news media
Even outside of work hours, it’s wise to limit the amount of time you spend consuming news media. It’s so easy to get lost in the habit of scrolling, but in reality, this habit doesn’t do anyone any good. Although you may be able to remain constantly in the know about what’s going on, that doesn’t mean you can control everything that’s happening in the world.
Instead of endlessly scrolling, aim for balance in your life by setting a time limit for news consumption. Most phones and computers allow you to set time limits for apps. Once you’ve hit your limit, put down your phone, close your computer, and engage in another activity.
5. Take care of your body
This tip may seem unrelated, but you might be surprised to see just how much taking care of your physical health can greatly benefit your mental health. Aim to drink plenty of water, eat balanced meals and snacks, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.
Exercising doesn’t have to be an intense HIIT workout; a walk outside, dancing to your favourite music, or running around with your children or pets counts too. By taking care of yourself physically, your body and brain will have the resources they need to function properly.
6. Try meditation, yoga, and other relaxing activities
Everyone gets stressed sometimes, and it may even seem like you have constant low-grade stress that never completely goes away. Relaxing activities like meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, knitting, and colouring can all help.
If you’re intimidated by the idea of meditating and attempting to clear your mind, give yoga a try. It’s often called a “moving meditation,” and the combination of movement and breath work helps many people silence their brains and live in the moment.
If yoga just isn’t your thing, look for a different type of activity that helps you relax and quiet any chatter going on in your mind. Once you’ve found something that works for you, aim to engage in that activity on a regular basis to decrease your stress levels.
It’s normal to get stressed out from keeping up with current events, especially while working from home. But if you’re able to implement even just a couple of the tips here, you should start to notice a difference in your mindset. How do you take care of your mental health while working from home?