Skip to main content

Coronavirus COVID-19: How to look after your mental health when working from home

17th March 2020

Coronavirus COVID-19: How to look after your mental health when working from home

ABC Life / By Patrick Wright

As Australia grapples with the spread of coronavirus, workers are scrambling to figure out how — or if — they can do their jobs from home.

One person who's ahead of the curve is Fiona Wright, a writer and editor who's been working from home in Sydney for over 10 years. 

And one thing the 36-year-old has learned over the years is the importance of taking care of her mental health.

"When I first started working from home, I'd wake up, roll to my desk and power through, basically until my housemates came home and pointed out that I hadn't moved since they'd left for work in the morning," she says.

"It was unsustainable, and I burnt myself out completely.

"I had a complete breakdown when I was about 26. And part of the process of getting better was learning how to have better work practices."

If you're working from home because of COVID-19, we've spoken with Fiona and two workplace experts to find out how you can look after your mental health.

Aim for at least one face-to-face conversation each day

Working from home can be lonely, especially when you haven't done it before.

It's something Fiona has struggled with over the years, and she's come up with some strategies to help.

"I make sure I speak to a person face to face every day, whether that's the postman, or the cashier at the supermarket, or the person who makes my coffee," she says.

"To have an actual human interaction really helps."

If you're not simply working from home but are in self-isolation too, then physical interactions will be off the cards.

If that's the case, scheduled catch-ups with colleagues or even friends over the phone or online can be really helpful.

That's the advice of Libby Sander, assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Bond University.

"Maybe organise a call or a videoconference as a brief touchpoint at the start of the day or the end of the day," she says.

"That way you're sharing information, you're communicating, and you're not feeling isolated."

Back to List