For many people who work remotely, the line between where work ends and home life begins can be incredibly blurry. It’s ironic, but having more freedom and flexibility than usual does come with significant trade-offs. Fortunately, it’s possible to adapt to this type of set-up, whether that means creating a daily routine or enforcing your own boundaries. In this article, we’ll list some of the most common issues faced by employees working from home, and what you can do to manage your stress levels without sacrificing productivity:

Embrace Dressing to De-stress

One of the best perks of working from home is the lack of a dress code. You can clock into work dressed in your most lived-in hoodie, a pair of sweat pants, and relaxing socks one morning, or go for distressed jeans, a loose-fitting shirt, and a pair of sandals the next.

However, just because you’re free to be as comfortable as you want doesn’t mean that there’s no merit in still dressing up for work. The clothes you choose to wear while on duty can have a considerable effect on the way you feel and your level of motivation for the day. Your outfit can even help improve your focus and make you more productive. It also ensures that you’re decent and presentable for any surprise video conferences or meetings that your team members might spring on you.

Instead of rolling out of bed and going to work in the same clothes you slept in, you can try changing into a different outfit before logging in. You don’t have to put on a suit and tie, as comfortable clothes that don’t have any holes or rips in them will do just fine. Everything from your shirt down to your everyday performance socks should also be fresh and clean. Most men who work from home choose cozy athleisure sets as their uniform of sorts, but any ensemble that’s neat and tidy should help you instantly feel more professional.

Give Your Day a Bit of Structure

Many of those who are new to remote work often get tripped up by the sudden amount of freedom they have over their own schedules. Though some companies may still impose rules over clock-in times and compulsory breaks, most organizations that have embraced the work-from-home model allow their employees to manage their time independently. However, what some might see as an advantage is in truth an area where most workers tend to flounder. The lack of social cues can make it hard for some employees to know when to start or stop working.

Setting a schedule and sticking to it is the most direct way to address the lack of structure you might be feeling as a remote worker. Developing a healthy routine that incorporates both productive time and moments for self-care can also help you feel less overwhelmed while giving you a better sense of control over your days. To further reduce stress and minimize feelings of anxiety, systematically clear your plate by prioritizing your most challenging tasks and resolving to do them first.

Designate a Working Space

Another way to help your brain establish a clear boundary between your job and the home is to designate a space in the house exclusively for work. Designating a space specifically for your job helps trigger the brain to go into work mode, allowing you to focus and stay productive. In the same vein, doing so allows the brain to recognize that other parts of the home are for rest and relaxation.

For some, this area can be a spare room that’s been converted into an office. Those who may not have that much space can still claim a quiet corner away from everyone else.

Once you’ve picked out a suitable working nook, make sure that it stays neat and tidy. A cluttered workspace is a stressful environment that can only hinder you from being as effective as possible. It’s also a good idea to invest in ergonomic office accessories and furniture, especially if you spend most of your time seated when working. A standing desk or a laptop stand can help you avoid the detrimental effects of sitting for too long, while an ergonomic chair or cushion can provide you with the support needed to prevent back and shoulder pain.

Make an Effort to Stay Connected

Feelings of isolation and loneliness are common among those who have been doing remote work for a while. This is especially true for individuals who live on their own and don’t have family members or roommates to interact with. In some cases, this lack of social interaction can negatively impact a worker’s energy levels and performance.

If working from home has made you feel a bit cut off from the rest of the world, don’t worry. You aren’t alone, and you definitely don’t have to continue feeling that way. Consider reaching out to your teammates and colleagues throughout the workday through messaging and collaboration tools. You can also easily find groups and communities of people who can empathize with your situation on social media. Put yourself out there, and you may make a friend or two!

Working from home can be rewarding on several levels, as long as you’re adequately equipped to manage the hidden stressors that come with it. So, look out for yourself, take breaks when you need to, and stay attuned to how you’re feeling. These can all go a long way towards mitigating stress and keeping you calm and focused so that you can make the most out of your workdays.

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