‘Lack of separation’ anxiety

How to cope when work life and home life merge

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These are extremely challenging times for everyone. Our lives have been turned upside down as we scramble to mentally and physically deal with each day as best we can. While those who remain gainfully employed are fortunate, new ways of working can be a real struggle.

With millions of employees setting-up shop at home, you’re far from alone if you’re experiencing this too. To bring some light to a tough situation, try to focus on the positives. For example, you’re saving time and money on your commute, you can enjoy a home-made snack (or ten) whenever it suits, you can pump whatever motivational playlist you like as loud as you like, and you can have a furry side-kick on your lap all day.

While these might seem trivial in the scheme of things, staying healthy by remaining positive is key. If the WFH struggle is real for you, create a routine that lets you kickstart your work day with ease and then try to switch off and relax at the end of it.

Here are our top five tips for keeping your work and home life separate so you can maintain some balance.

1. Dress for success

While working in pyjamas may seem like the ideal situation, slipping into a different outfit can help you define work hours and leisure hours. Of course, you can still be comfortable—some workers say they have a different set of comfy clothes for working and chilling out—but changing your clothes helps to create an important distinction between ‘work time’ and ‘down time’. 

2. Section off your work space

Having clear physical boundaries will help you to establish a good routine and easily switch between work and leisure mode. If your home has a separate office or study (with a door you can close) that’s perfect, but if you’re short on space, a study nook or work desk can help you clock off as you move to the ‘non-work’ spaces of your house. 

Some workers also say they find it beneficial to have sensory links to their work space—they’ll spray on their ‘work’ perfume or make a coffee in their reusable office cup before they begin the work day. 

3. Commit to a daily routine

If you find yourself working overtime or struggling to switch off, schedule an activity to mark the end of your working day. This could be as simple as going for a walk, unrolling a yoga mat and doing 10 minutes of stretches (great for that post-work backache!), calling a friend or tuning in to an episode (or three) of your favourite Netflix show. 

If you find yourself so deeply engaged in your work you lose track of time, set an alarm—your mental health will thank you! 

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4. Keep social for socialising

If you’re logging into Facebook or Instagram to chat with colleagues, chances are you’re going to get distracted by your feed and slip out of work mode pretty easily. 
Try using work-based apps such as Slack and email for work communications, and apps such as Zoom for face-to-face chats with colleagues. Keep the other social apps for after work or during breaks.

5. Turn down the noise

When you’re trying to stay in the work zone, the last thing you need is your phone beeping away with reminders of what your friends and family are doing. Make sure you stay professional at home by muting social notifications until you finish for the day. This will stop the boundaries between work and fun blurring, helping you stay focused until it’s time to chill. 

Make sure you also let your children, your partner or your flatmates know you shouldn’t be disturbed in your workspace—if possible! You can try telling your furry friend as well, but good luck getting them to listen.


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