9 Tips for Establishing a Stressless WFH Setup

Remote work has an appealing list of perks, such as no commute or dress code, no in-person supervision, and flexible work schedules. However, it has its drawbacks too—there’s always pressure to do more in less time, and to do it well.

This kind of pressure can lead to burnout and productivity loss. On top of that, there’s the issue of “work time creep” as workers are always on, working longer hours. As a result, worklife bleeds into home life.

This creates a stressful work environment, and excessive workplace stress is a health hazard we’d all like to avoid.


Work from home stressors

You might feel surprised when working from home leads to stress, especially when you have the freedom to choose when and where you work. But remote working presents a unique set of challenges.

There is growing concern about the mental health of those who work at home. And research shows that the loneliness and isolation often reported by remote workers can have devastating impacts.

A recent survey by Buffer concurs, citing that 24% of remote employees cite loneliness as one of the struggles of working remotely.

Some of the common issues that contribute to increased levels of stress while working from home include:

If not addressed, workplace stress can lead to increased turnover, absentee employees, lower productivity levels, and reduced profits.


Tips to create a stress-free remote work setup

So, how can you create a stress-free WFH environment? Read on to find out.


1. Establish workplace wellness


Your workspace should be a place of little interruption that encourages sustained well-being. So, how do you do that?

  • Add greenery to your office. Not only do indoor plants improve air quality, but studies also show they can reduce stress. The Guardian published a study that found adding plants to your workspace can increase performance.
  • Keep a water bottle close. Staying hydrated helps to keep your brain alert and facilitates the ideal conditions for problem-solving and critical thinking. It also forces you to move when you need the bathroom.
  • Virtual remote team wellness. You can organize a virtual wellness experience for your team to give them fully-customized stress management training and resources on mental health, nutrition, quality sleep, and more.
  • Natural light. Where possible, establish your home office near natural light. Natural light reduces dependence on artificial lighting during the day, which is a good thing for your mood.


2. Create and stick to a routine

A lack of structure can lead to poor time management. A routine creates predictability, maximizes your time, and improves your focus on work.

Here are useful tips to consider when creating a routine:

  • Establish a ritual that marks the start and end of your day. This can include activities like going for a run, taking a walk, stretching, or having a coffee before you start working. At the end of the day, you could try closing your home office, taking your dog for a walk, or lighting a candle. Find a ritual that works for you and develop it into a habit to help you unplug.
  • Wake up at a specific time every morning. You could use an alarm to ensure you don’t oversleep.
  • Establish a regular lunchtime. Doing so every day ensures you take a break and refuel.
  • Set aside time to move around. According to WHO, a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Therefore, make it a ritual to stretch your legs during your breaks.

A routine will help you stay on track and prevent work time from creeping into your chill time.


3. Make regular breaks part of your routine

When working on-site, it’s easy to go for coffee or lunch breaks in the company of colleagues. However, in a remote work setup, it’s easy to spend your entire day glued to your computer. This can lead to fatigue and stress.

To minimize stress when working from home, it’s essential to take regular breaks. Whether it’s a coffee break at 10 a.m., a lunch break at 1 p.m., or 15 minutes away from your computer every hour, breaks can help you refocus.

Regular breaks will also prevent your mind from getting bogged down and stressed out by certain tasks.


4. Connect with coworkers and friends

One sociology study suggests that humans may need to spend around 200 hours together before they consider themselves close friends. With loneliness and isolation being problematic for remote workers, it’s important to make an effort to connect with supportive people in your life.

You can organize a regular time to video chat or engage in team-building activities that will promote team bonding. Alternatively, you can create a group chat to stay connected with friends and colleagues throughout the week. Meeting up with a local friend in person can be a nice break from online life, too.

Having someone to talk to is an excellent way to deal with stress.


5. Establish work-life boundaries

Setting boundaries remains one of the biggest remote work challenges. It’s common to find people working and communicating outside working hours, and this can lead to less rest and higher stress levels.

Below are tips to help you establish clear work-life boundaries to ensure work doesn’t cross into your personal life:

  • Don’t allow work beyond scheduled work hours.
  • When possible, have a different work phone that you can switch off at the end of your shift.
  • Avoid checking emails outside working hours—in fact, turn off work-related notifications at the end of your work hours.
  • Organize and prioritize tasks, and set realistic deadlines.
  • Set clear communication guidelines with your team and family members.

Once you define which hours are for work and which ones are for personal time, you’ll maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout.


6. Track your work

You can get more work done with less stress if you keep track of your tasks and projects. Time tracking software allows you to monitor the amount of time you spend working. That way, you’ll know how long specific tasks take, and be able to plan your time accordingly. 

What’s more, these tools can remind you to take breaks throughout your workdays, helping you work more efficiently. If you aren’t tracking your work yet, you can compare time tracking software and choose one that fits your work style. 

In addition, find ways to automate tedious manual tasks to create more time to do more important things. For instance, utilizing project management software improves team collaboration and provides structure to help teams stay in sync.


7. Limit distractions

As a remote worker, distractions can feel constant, and this can result in frustrations, delayed or missed deadlines, and stress. The first step to limiting distractions is to set boundaries and let coworkers, friends, and family know when not to interrupt.

In terms of digital distractions, turn off notifications on your devices to facilitate deep focus work. You may also want to schedule certain times, like afternoons, to check emails to avoid opening emails as they pop up.

It’s also advisable to disable social media sites, which, as this CareerBuilder survey shows, is among top productivity killers. If you easily get sucked into the internet black hole, consider installing internet-blocking tools like StayFocused or Freedom. They block certain websites, like social media sites, so you can stay focused on work.

Creating an individualized schedule can also prove useful in helping you develop workplace discipline and prioritize work.


8. Focus on self-care

When you work from home, it’s imperative to focus on self-care to help you stay connected to yourself and better manage your stress. Examples of self-care practices include:

Try to find a technique that will help relieve your mind and body from the pressures of your busy life.


9. Celebrate small achievements

People forget to celebrate their small achievements. Rewarding yourself when working from home can motivate you and help you feel more productive and positive. This could be something as simple as taking a few minutes to check in with friends, going for a walk, or treating yourself to a massage.

If you love movies, you could spend your afternoon at the movies after checking a few tasks off your list. Celebrating your successes, no matter how small, can do wonders for your mood and stress levels.


Minimize work from home stress by being proactive

Whether you’re a freelancer or manage a team of remote workers, don’t wait to create a workspace that supports your well-being and that of your employees.

Establishing boundaries and routines is not enough. Practice good sleep hygiene, eat healthy nutritious foods, and create a WFH setup where you can thrive.

It can be easy to slip into unhealthy habits when working from home, but remember, happy employees are more productive and efficient. And prioritizing your well-being is up to you.