How Working From Home Can Affect Your Mental Health
Working from home has its benefits. It is more flexible and convenient than a traditional office job—and you can also save money on expenses like lunch and gas. While many people enjoy doing their job in their pajamas, the wrong type of remote work environment can lead to serious consequences, including challenges with your mental and emotional health.
In some cases you need to de-stress. Other situations require you to reorganize. Whatever you may face, it is important to learn the ways that working from home can impact you.
Next, discover how self-care activities, relaxation techniques, and even cutting-edge devices such as low-level laser therapy belts can help you treat physical symptoms and stay calm. In addition to helping you feel better, a new routine can help you become a more productive professional.
Challenge #1: You Forget to Take Breaks
Many office jobs have a dedicated lunch hour. Some even have a structured break schedule. These regular pauses in the day help employees take care of their minds and bodies. If you are working from home, you may not leave your desk to eat a meal. You may also forget to stretch your legs. This affects not only your physical health but also your emotions and mood.
A poor diet or body pain from staying in one position all can have negative impacts on energy levels. There are also links between diet and depression. Your brain may not be getting the nutrients it needs, which can make you feel even more irritable, sad, or disinterested at work. Thankfully, it is possible to combat fatigue and enhance your mood by building a lunch break into your remote work schedule.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your break:
- Have a “real” lunch break: Try setting aside 30-60 minutes to enjoy an order from a delivery service or make a home-cooked meal. Make sure your lunch is rich in lean protein, as well as colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Get some sunlight: Eat in a space that is entirely different from your office or desk. The patio, kitchen, and backyard may offer bright and sunny spaces that can help to make you feel more energized.
- Drink water with lunch: This helps you to stay hydrated, which prevents you from becoming uninspired, sluggish, or sleepy. Keep a reusable water bottle with you, so you can take it as you move about the house.
- Create a break timer: Get up from your desk every 30 minutes to move your body and rest your eyes. Build in at least two 15-minute breaks–one in the morning and one in the afternoon–to meditate, take a walk outdoors, or simply rest in silence.
Challenge #2: You Feel Lonely
Working from home can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. If you feel disconnected from your co-workers or customers for an extended period of time, you may become sad, depressed, or unmotivated. As soon as you notice you are lonely, it is time to act. Next time you need to talk to a fellow staff member or a client, call them on the phone or initiate a video conference. While this will make you feel more connected to your fellow worker, you will also be able to solve challenges faster than with email or text.
Here are a few more ways to enhance your mood and combat loneliness:
- Use videoconferencing: Schedule regular video meetings with your team so you are able to connect on a personal and professional level. Make sure you spend at least a few minutes discussing fun topics, which can help you to de-stress and bond with co-workers.
- Invest in your social life: Spend time with your loved ones and meet new friends. The more that you see people outside your remote job, the better you will feel about being behind a screen for most of your day. Regular social activities will also give you something to look forward to if you are having a difficult week.
- Try a new hobby: Think about something you have always been interested in, and then try it out on your next day off. While you meet new people, you will also gain a new skill set. The best activities are much different from what you do at work, so you’ll feel like you’re getting a break. They may also include movement, which helps to enhance your mood and keep your body healthy.
Challenge #3: You Feel Overwhelmed
Many people think remote work is more fun or relaxing than an office job. While this may be true for some professionals, it is not always the case for everyone. A work-from-home setup can make some people more prone to overworking. Not having enough time to decompress or feeling too stressed to get your tasks done can lead to a condition known as burnout. This state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion can quickly leave you feeling hopeless and resentful. It can even cause depression.
Since breaks in communication can also make it difficult for managers to know if their teams are too tired, overwhelmed, or frustrated, small business owners, salespeople, and professionals who create their own schedules should be careful about working too much. To prevent feeling overwhelmed and to decrease your risk of developing a mental health condition, it is important to set limits on your day.
Here are a few ways to avoid burnout and enjoy your job:
- Stick to your schedule: Decide how many hours you will work per day or at which time you will start and stop. Your schedule should be as fixed and dependable as anyone who works in an office or operates a store. Avoid working with clients who do not respect your office hours. If you are regularly doing work outside your normal workday, talk to your remote manager about updating communication rules or adjusting your schedule.
- Find your own workspace: It is also helpful to work on the opposite side of your home from your bedroom or relaxation space. A separation between the two environments will help your mind to de-stress when it is time to stop working.
- Speak up: Do communicate with your superiors or clients if you are taking on too much. In some cases, they may not be aware of your situation. Calmly explain what you are dealing with and what kind of support you need. Most employers and customers will be happy to create a positive solution.
Improving Your Physical & Mental Health
Along with emotional issues like depression, anxiety, and chronic stress, changes in your mental health can also affect your body. Too much stress can lead to tension and muscle spasms, which can further affect how you feel. Your emotional state will also impact how you do your job, so taking time for self-care activities is essential. Yoga, massage, or a warm bath can help to relieve tension in your body and mind.
You may also choose to reduce pain or discomfort in areas like your neck or lower back with heat therapy, ice therapy, or even photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT). Also formerly often referred to as low-level laser therapy (LLLT), PBMT treatment with a laser therapy belt can help to reduce uncomfortable and disconcerting pain, inflammation, and muscle spasms in your lower back.
Experimenting with your office area and your schedule can start you on the right track. Self-care therapies will make a difference in how you feel during work and play. It does not matter which combination of strategies you choose—what matters is that you stay committed to a stress-free workspace, as well as better physical and mental health.
Mark Broadly is a health and wellness blogger with over 7 years in the field. He enjoys researching the all latest trends and blogging about his findings to ensure readers are informed on both the pros and cons of any new trends. In his free time, he enjoys cooking new recipes and hiking with his family.