We don’t know how you feel, but we keep hearing that lots of people who are working from home are actually more worn out and tired compared to when they were working at the office.
You may be thinking it doesn’t make any sense. After all, we spend less time rushing from A to B right now, are more flexible when it comes to time management, and there’s less going on overall. And yet, lots of us are feeling more and more exhausted. A recent headline in the German news magazine Der Spiegel read: ‘How the home office is breaking us’.
So, what is it with this working from home paradox? In this article, we’re going to try to get to the bottom of it and will be giving you some emergency tips to help you get through your workday.
Working from home: when the boundaries between your private and work life become blurred
In a study conducted by the Chemnitz University of Technology, around 60% of respondents indicated that the boundaries between their private and work life had unwittingly become blurred. More than a quarter (27%) of them considered it to be a burden.
We all know that the workflow is different when we’re working from home. When you add to this the fact that what we can do in our free time is limited, we’re more likely to be at our laptops out of sheer boredom even after work rather than doing something else.
Not having the physical distance between our home and place of work changes the rhythm in our day-to-day lives and leaves the boundaries also blurring in our minds, which can frequently end in us burning out.
A survey by the scientific institute linked to the health insurance provider AOK confirms that we’re subjected to more pressure when working from home than is the case at the office. It leads to us feeling exhausted sooner as well as causing concentration and sleep issues — usually linked to impractical or unergonomic working conditions.
Why is it that we perceive working from home as harder?
According to an IAO study, we’re particularly productive when working from home because we experience more frequent periods of deep concentration. But it can also be dangerous: if this is how we spend eight hours a day, we end up feeling even more exhausted afterwards.
In the first lockdown, the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT tried to find an answer to the question of why our stress levels are higher when we work from home. They found that there are 12 stress factors that make life hard for us when we work from home:
- a lack of technology,
- a missing sense of achievement,
- the confusion caused by a mass of digital options,
- the flood of information,
- the fear of losing your workplace to a robot,
- the control exerted through monitoring technology,
- the confusion caused by the digital transformation,
- worries over a loss of privacy,
- having to always be available,
- software issues,
- trouble concentrating,
- not knowing your own role within the company.
4 SOS tips to sustainably reset your energy levels
Whatever the reasons — we all know the feeling of being overwhelmed and needing to dial everything back to zero so that we can think straight again. That’s why we’ve come up with four sustainable SOS tips that are guaranteed to work when you’ve reached your limits.
- Be less available and strictly maintain your official working hours.
According to a report by the German health insurance provider DAK, young people frequently struggle to separate their professional and private life — the survey found that only one in two (!) people under 30 manage to do it.
It never ceases to surprise just how convinced people are when they say they have to always be available to prevent their (virtual) office from going under. In truth, whether things fail is about nothing more than our ability to be clear and to communicate.
In his book ‘The 4-hour work week’, Timothy Ferris, a one-time workaholic, lays out how after he’d had a change of heart, his method of ‘management by absence’ works. He tries to not be there most of the time rather than doing things that aren’t important to him. ‘Slowing down doesn’t automatically mean achieving less. It’s more about leaving counterproductive distractions, stress, and the rush behind us,’ explains the author.
For you, that specifically means: make sure you make all your team members aware of your exact working hours and strictly adhere to them. In addition, you can set your smartphone to block certain apps once your work time is over so you can’t even check Slack, emails, or any other project boards. Then, at the weekend, stay away from your phone and avoid adding to your screen time. It’ll take some discipline at first, but will increase your physical and mental strength in the long run.
- Try to be at one with your body, listen to it, and take care of it.
Our body is a true miracle. Did you know that it has a kind of innate ‘memory’? If we, for example, experienced overwhelming emotions as a child that we weren’t able to process at the time, many of us don’t remember that state itself — the memory becomes ‘disconnected’, so to speak. Our bodies, on the other hand, do remember all these experiences and are able to tell stories about them if we just listen closely enough.
When we find ourselves in a state of stress, we’re unable to listen to these stories. Then, if something starts hurting, we’re likely to go straight for painkillers to ‘mute’ our bodies rather than getting to the root cause that may be hidden deep down.
In the long run, our bodies may stop communicating with us and literally become ‘deaf’. And that’s the perfect breeding ground for chronic diseases and pain.
As you can see, our bodies are wiser than we tend to think and they’re able to tell us a lot about ourselves that we wouldn’t have even thought possible. They do, however, require us to take good care of them and to always make sure they’re well. It’s especially in times of crisis that stress, restlessness, and fears settle somatically in our bodies and can lead to pain (probably the best example is back pain).
With a healthy diet, you’ll be able to create a good basis that will help you fight off possible infections, pain, or diseases. Once you’ve managed that, it will help to regularly detox your body so that it can ‘rid itself of all the rubbish’.
Take a look at our Humanoo app where you’ll find a number of courses on that exact subject: being at peace inside your body with the help of sound journeys, learning to better understand it with the help of meditation, staying healthy with courses on nutrition, or regularly ridding yourself of toxins by doing a detox. There are a lot of options — you just need to find out what’s right for you.
- Create oases that you can withdraw to and be sure to plan breaks throughout the day.
How many of us just work straight through our 8 hours without treating ourselves to a single break? And by ‘break’ we don’t mean quickly scrolling through your Instagram feed, but time to actually switch off.
Shut your eyes for a while, get up from your screen, listen to calming music, go for a walk, or simply take the time to catch your breath. Be honest — how often do you actually do that in your day-to-day life?
And that despite the fact that short breaks throughout the day can work wonders — even, as we’ve said, if they only last 5 minutes.
- You feel better, are less tired, and have fewer headaches.
- You’ll be more productive — which means the breaks won’t have even cost you any time.
- You won’t slip up and make mistakes as often.
- You’ll be aware of it if you feel too tired.
- Give yourself enough time to recover and pay attention to your sleep habits.
For many of us, our modern everyday lives consisting of our jobs, homeschooling, shopping, staying in touch with people, replying to messages, etc. are so demanding that we have a tendency to want to claw our time back.
In one of their articles, the BBC wrote of ‘Revenge bedtime procrastination’. It’s a psychological phenomenon that leads people to stay up especially late in the evenings as a way of maintaining control over their lives — even if it’s not something they do consciously.
It does make some sense for our mind to trick us like that if it felt as if it was being controlled by others all day long. In the evening, we want to make up for the time we lost during the day. The result is that we feel as if we’re at the helm again.
It’s just a pity that it tends to be such a catch 22 leading to sleep disorders, evening procrastination, and exhaustion. That’s why it’s all the more important for you to have a good think about your sleeping habits:
- Be sure not to do any strenuous sport in the two hours before going to bed.
- Reduce your screen time and don’t be scrolling through anything an hour before sleeping (it’s worth blocking your apps here.)
- Be really strict when it comes to your bedtime and try to get up early at the weekend so you don’t mess up your sleep patterns.
Have a look at our Humanoo app where you’ll find a wide range of courses that will gently send you off to sleep — a good alternative to screen time.
Has simply reading made you feel a lot more relaxed?
It’s always the same: relaxing and letting go can be so simple. It’s our minds that don’t always play ball: they prefer to go for complications and drama. And that’s precisely why lots of us find ourselves in a never-ending cycle of stress, dissatisfaction, and overexertion.
It’s something you can change, though. Lots of people — and we’re sure a few of them are among the people you know — have managed and lead a mostly relaxed life with their body, mind, and soul in harmony. It’s not rocket science — all it takes is consciousness and regular practice.
The rewards are immeasurable: a life in the here and now as well as physical and mental health. What else could you wish for in these times?
Thank you for letting us accompany you on this exciting journey.
Your Humanoo Team