When I applied for my internship at Blue Yonder, I was excited to meet the team and work in the office with new people, but, like everyone else, I was required to work from home for my internship, given the COVID-19 pandemic. Working remote with a team I’ve never met before has been strange, but everyone has welcomed me and helped every step of the way. I feel very lucky and grateful to work and learn in such uncertain times.
Despite that, it has been hard to achieve a healthy work/life balance at times. I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling this way, so I wanted to share some of the tangible ways I struck the right balance during my internship and first full-time (and remote!) working experience.
Due to COVID-19, my brother and dad were furloughed and my mom, a teacher, worked from home while my sister, a student, studied from home. Our three-bedroom home was certainly not meant for three people to be working on Zoom calls all day, all at once. I would be lying if I said it hasn’t been difficult. There have been plenty of family arguments over struggling to work from home. Many times, I have been on a Zoom call while my sister is in a lesson and we both disturb each other and struggle to focus.
I know I’m not the only one who has experienced a few Zoom bloopers with people walking into the room not realizing you are on a team call! During the November lockdown in the U.K., I found working from home so difficult that I decided to lockdown at my boyfriend’s house during December to give me the opportunity to work better in a less congested space. Although I was able to concentrate more at his house, my mental health was affected by being away from my family for so long. I knew I was doing what was best for my work and my sister’s learning, but I missed my family and the comforts of home so much.
Life became repetitive with not much to look forward to and no ease of COVID-19 restrictions in sight. I would roll out of bed 10 minutes before work, turn on my laptop, watch TV during lunch and do nothing productive in the evening. I realized I had to take control and make changes to improve my mental health. I started waking up earlier and going on runs. I began slow running and walking in minute intervals and with perseverance, I built up to running a 5K in 30 minutes. Instead of watching TV at lunchtime, I started going on walks and stepping away from my laptop for half an hour to get some fresh air and clear my head.
We are all guilty of grabbing a bite to eat and sitting at the computer during a busy day as we feel we don’t have the time to get up and have a break, but I found it extremely helpful to get up and away from the computer during lunch. Ensuring I have a proper break allows me to return in half an hour refreshed and ready to give 100% to my work again. It’s impossible to work eight hours straight when you are tired and hungry! In addition, I started using my evenings to prepare meals for lunch each day and taking advantage of my spare time to learn new recipes. Fueling my body with nutritious food prevents me from getting lethargic while I sit at a desk during the day.
These small changes have made a positive impact on my mental health and consequently have motivated me to learn and work to the best of my ability. My renewed enthusiasm at work led me to volunteer in a group charity event with other associates at Blue Yonder, which involved all group members cycling a total of 100 miles each in a week. This challenge gave me a goal to work toward and a feeling of accomplishment when we achieved the goal. The charity event gave me the opportunity to meet new associates I hadn’t met and expand my network, which was something I struggled to do since joining the team virtually.
Although it has been a difficult year to start a new job, I’ve adopted many healthy habits for dealing with stress. It is integral for me to have a consistent workplace in the house so that I can be in the right headspace. It is also important that I log off during lunchtime and at the end of the day in order to create a clear difference between work and home life. I have learned it is okay to get up and take a break in order to increase your productivity when you return. Personally, I found it very useful to set goals for myself, even if they are small, and to celebrate each achievement. It is so important to take time to look after yourself. In the same way you would if you broke a bone, take steps to care for your mental health so you are happy at work and at home.