The importance of Health and Wellness when working from home

As told by Ellen Porteous, copywriter @ Abacus Agency.

We have been asked to be adaptable, creative and resilient in the face of great change, disruption and uncertainty. However, it’s important to know that it is in our own power to make sure our health and well being is paramount above all.

Ellen Porteous, one of our Copywriters, was kind enough to share her experience working from home in this interview with Nicole Daly.

Being it a worldwide pandemic, chances are a lot of people are feeling the same way. Have you found that staying connected with friends and family is a good support system during this time?

Absolutely. It was extremely tough in the beginning. And even to this day, I’m unable to hug my dad or see my newborn nephew. Lucky for us, technology exists. I Snapchat my sister, call my parents, and Facetime my friends. I’m so grateful to have a close support system. Plus, I live with my cousin so I never feel truly alone. Group chats are great as well, even if you’re just sending funny posts back and forth. 

Personal interactions are vital for well-being and team cohesion, but when you’re working from home, it’s easy to become isolated. Since you don’t have the normal chit chat with your coworkers, what has your company or co-workers done to stay connected?

I miss the water cooler talk so much! It’s vastly underrated. I was always one of the chattier ones at the office so it’s been quite a transition. 

I text a few of my coworkers throughout the day about work stuff and other random nonsense like tweets, TikTok videos, and Buzzfeed articles. 

In terms of Abacus as a whole, we’ve had a few happy hours over Zoom and made use of the House Party app. We also switched over to Slack which makes it much easier for everyone to stay informed. We have channels for just about everything, including memes! Some of us creatives have hopped on Google Meet for hours as if we were working right next to each other. 

So all in all, I guess not much has changed? We’ve just gone digital. 

When working from home, it can be tempting to work more while you have your work at home in front of you, however, it can also be taxing on your health and well-being. Have you managed to stick to a reasonable schedule with healthy boundaries?

I think the mentality is that since you’re already at home and in front of the computer, may as well continue working right? The separation between work and home is blurred. That’s been a big obstacle for me. I actually kind of miss the commute! But yes, setting boundaries can be tough. I have a tendency to say yes and take on too many things and it can backfire. I’ve had to get better at saying no or at least “not right now.” 

Some companies have introduced mandatory mental health days to relieve some pressure off their working schedule. Do you think employees feel insecure about taking days off when it comes to their mental health?

First, I would like to say that I fully support this. Second, I do think employees feel insecure. There’s still somewhat of a stigma around mental health. But you don’t need to be diagnosed with anxiety or depression to qualify for a day off. I think mental health days are important to take even as a preventative measure. Don’t wait until you hit your breaking point or have a panic attack.

Take mental health days regularly and don’t put pressure on yourself to have the perfect day either. You can sleep in, get up early and workout, eat shitty food, paint — it’s your day! 

I also believe there’s a fear of letting your team down. I want to be a great team player as much as the next person, but being a great team player means knowing when to take a beat and recharge. And let me just say that if your workplace is making you feel guilty for taking a day off, then that is not somewhere you want to work! 

The workplace can often be a source of intense stress, anxiety and burnout. Meditation has been seen to reduce this frustration and boost productivity for many people. What activities have benefited your well-being, brought you joy, or distracted you from existing challenges?

I would have to say comedy. I love to laugh and I love to make people laugh. I’ve been watching a lot of stand-up specials and sitcoms. I even took an online stand-up class! It’s just nice to keep things light-hearted to balance out the darkness in the world right now. 

I journal as well. I start with what I’m grateful for and then I reflect on the day. Getting things down on paper can help you make sense of things and relieve stress.

My roommate and I also make an effort to have movie nights a couple of times a week. Our go-to is either a cheesy Hallmark rom-com or an inspirational dance flick. 

Working remotely usually correlates with more time on computers or phones. What have you found that works best for you in order to unplug yourself from the digital chatter?

Cooking. When I’m lazy, I’ll order out and when I’m really busy or stressed sometimes I forget to eat. So I’ve been ordering HelloFresh meals. This way, I get out of that work headspace and focus on something else. Plus, I get the satisfaction of making a delicious meal! It is truly the little things. #Ad 

Reading is another one. We have a great view from our balcony. I ordered a bunch of books online this summer so I could read outside when it’s warm!

Is there any advice you would give someone who may be having difficulties in dealing with the new norm of working from home?

THER-A-PY. I know it can be expensive but there are plenty of resources available at a variety of prices. You can do it online or even via text if that’s more convenient for you. 

I’ve been going once a month for years but this year I’ve increased the number of sessions. I believe it’s important to talk to an objective third-party. I love my friends and family but they aren’t trained in psychology! (Not that I know of anyway.) 

And don’t get frustrated if you’re not mastering the art of bread baking or getting jacked during this time. We may all be going through the same thing, but we’re all handling it differently. Many of us have never experienced anything like this before so just do what’s right for you and listen to what your body needs.

Some days, I barely want to get out of bed! It’s weird to me that some people are “thriving” during this time. But hey, if you are, more power to you and please tell me your secrets! 

Finally, try to create a routine for yourself. I am TERRIBLE at this. I’ve always hated routine. But, this pandemic has forced us to make some changes. Try to create a morning routine even if it’s just washing your face and putting on proper clothes. 

You’ll get through this. I believe in you.