Working from Home and Mental Health
Working from Home and Mental Health – Introduction
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to work from home, and for some, this may have been a welcome change. However, for others, working from home alone can have negative mental health effects. This article will explore some of the reasons why working from home alone can be challenging and discuss some strategies for mitigating these effects.
Working from home alone can lead to increased feelings of isolation and loneliness. Humans are social creatures, and most of us thrive on social interaction. When we work in an office, we have colleagues to chat with, collaborate with, and bounce ideas off. We also have a sense of community and belonging. Working from home alone can rob us of these social connections, leading to feelings of loneliness and disconnection.
Lack of Structure
Another challenge in regard to working from home and mental health. When we work in an office, we have a routine that we follow. We know when we need to arrive at work, when we can take breaks, and when we can go home. When we work from home alone, we may find ourselves working irregular hours, taking too few or too many breaks, and struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Increased Stress while balancing Working from Home and Mental Health
Working from home alone can also increase stress levels. When we work in an office, we can leave work behind at the end of the day and return to our home lives. When we work from home, there is no physical separation between work and home, making it harder to switch off and relax. Additionally, working from home can mean that we are working in an environment that is not conducive to work. For example, we may be working in a noisy, cluttered, or uncomfortable space.
This stress, anxiety, and loneliness of working from home can lead to depression or make it worse.
According to The Mayo Clinic, depression isn’t just feeling down. Some less-obvious symptoms of depression include:
- Angry outbursts, irritability, or frustration (sometimes over trivial matters)
- Increased cravings for food and binging
- Agitation and restlessness
- Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions, and remembering things
- Unexplained physical ailments, such as back pain or headaches
- Loss of interest in activities such as sex or hobbies
- Sleep disturbances, including insomnia and oversleeping
- Tiredness and lack of energy, so even small tasks take extra effort
- Often wanting to stay at home rather than going out to socialize or do new activities
Katherine Berry, a sale representative for a Tech Firm in the San Francisco Bay Area, tells her story of Working from Home and Mental Health
Katherine Berry (@Katherout) was living out her dream life, or so she thought. After graduating a year early from USC Business School, she landed a big-time sales gig at a well-known tech company in San Francisco. But then the pandemic arrived. Suddenly, new roommates (her parents) and the inability to unplug (60-70 hour work weeks) had Katherine’s anxiety levels at an all-time high. Were work-life balance and boundaries actually possible in the pressure cooker career path she had chosen?
Despite the challenges of working alone at home, there are strategies that you can use to mitigate these effects
Maintain Social Connections
Maintaining social connections is essential when working from home alone. This can include regular check-ins with colleagues, virtual coffee breaks, or joining online communities related to our work. We can also make an effort to connect with family and friends outside of work hours. Meeting with people offline (IRL) has benefits as well.
Create a Routine
Creating a routine can help us maintain structure and balance in our work and home lives. We can set a schedule for when we will start and finish work, take breaks, and engage in other activities outside of work. We can also make an effort to separate our workspaces from our living spaces to create a physical separation between work and home.
Practicing self-care is crucial for mitigating the negative mental health effects of working from home alone. This can include regular exercise, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep, and engaging in hobbies or activities that bring us joy. We can also practice mindfulness or meditation to help manage stress and anxiety.
Return to Working Among Others
The beauty of coworking communities is that membership has a way injecting inclusivity and acceptance into your life, even if your weren’t necessarily looking for it. This article is being written from within the confines of The Works – Gilbert, a coworking space in Gilbert, AZ. A quick visual inventory of the members here right now paint a picture of different industries (surprisingly not everyone here is working tech), different ages (from high school students to some who retired and work a second career), and difference ethnicities. I’ll assume (without taking an awkward poll) that there are different religions, sexual preferences, and political views.
But what brought these folks here today is, they needed to get work done. They needed to distance themselves from distractions. They needed to get their day started, which as easy at that sounds, can be a challenge in some households. And most of them prefer to work in the company of others.
Seek Therapeutic Options
There are several option for getting professional help for depression and anxiety. Most providers offer telehealth options. But considering the benefits of getting out of the house and seeing other people face to face, why not consider an in-person appointment? A quick Google Search for “Mental Health Therapy Near Me” is a good start.
Working from Home and Mental Health has been getting a lot of media attention due to the challenges it presents, but it is possible to mitigate these effects. By maintaining social connections, creating a routine, and practicing self-care, we can thrive while working from home. It is also essential to recognize when we need additional support and seek help when necessary. With these strategies in place, we can make working from home a positive and fulfilling experience