How to have a healthy work-life balance while working from home in Abu Dhabi

Advice from NYU Abu Dhabi's counselling team leader

 How to have a healthy work-life balance while working from home in Abu Dhabi

While we all get used to working from home, things can take a strain on our mental and physical wellbeing.

And while there are countless ways to keep fit in your living room, it's not so easy to find help when it comes to mental health.

Well, here with some advice on how to stay happy at home during Ramadan and while we're self-isolating is Vledrana Mladina, counselling team leader at NYU Abu Dhabi.

She says: "WFH (aka working from home) has become our new normal in the time of pandemic, but pretty much everything we are doing nowadays is from home – so it’s more like LFH (life from home).

"Also, setting boundaries between work and home has never been more important. Why? Because we want to avoid the spillover effect of work related stress and negative mindset taking away from our quality time with family or from our quality 'me time'. Especially at this time, in the final days of this year’s Ramadan it is so important to remind ourselves of that.

"Ramadan makes that quality time with family even more sacred and precious. Families are fasting together and breaking the fast together. Iftars should therefore not be interrupted nor contaminated with any work related issues as this disrupts the inner peace and the focus on family togetherness at that important part of the day.

"Compartmentalising between call of duty and duty of care for ourselves and for our loved ones is the key. Structuring our days around that idea is possible and it will also help our brains stay more focused on one or the other, instead of feeling overwhelmed and confused by contradicting activities. We will be able to be more present and less absent (minded) and that both increase productivity as well as strengthen our interpersonal relationships.

"Luckily, in the UAE, Ramadan working hours for most employees enable this division, but sometimes working remotely and maybe with different time zones can make it more difficult and blurry. That’s when our own individual sense of protecting our own boundaries comes in handy.

"Also, rituals are so important for our sense of stability and comfort. Iftar is one of those precious rituals we want to be able to fully honour and enjoy at this time. Enjoying the family meal mindfully and gratefully without distractions is contributing to our individual and our common mental stability. It’s a possibility to re-energise and recharge not only in a nutritional sense, but also spiritually and emotionally.

"It’s a time and a chance to take a break from WFH, from the news feeds, from social media and focus on our immediate social environment and pay full attention to each other. That is precious and much needed as it reinforces the togetherness and common ground that can at times be forgotten during the day with everyone focusing on their own virtual environments.

"The fact that it’s not possible to have big family and community Iftars at this time calls for even more conscious effort being made in our individual households to live up to the tradition fully and appropriately. It will help us fill the void or at least it will help us know we tried. Many times that’s all we need.

"Therefore, let’s put those phones, laptops and worries away, let’s pause – it’s Iftar time."

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