How Working From Home Affects Mental Health

Much like with other things that go on inside of the home, working from home can have a significant impact upon your mental health.

Moving away from the office into the home presents challenges that may not have been encountered before.

Making sure that you have a stable internet connection, dealing with your over-excited dog or even just finding an appropriate place to work, are just some of the factors that make up the ‘new work stress’.

We all remember this viral moment from BBC News. It adequately illustrates the issues that can arise when working at home.

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Despite the comedy value, this infamous clip highlights how difficult it can be to manage your home life, while also working at the same time.

Of course, children are children and so it is perfectly normal for them to interrupt so abruptly but after the incident, Professor Robert Kelly and his wife, Jung-a Kim, admitted that the whole ordeal had been particularly stressful

Over time, the size of the accommodation that people live in has become smaller and smaller, meaning that there is less and less distance between entertainment areas, sleeping areas and working areas.

As a consequence, the main issue that employees face in 2020 is figuring out how to deal with this lack of separation.

Switching off before you go to bed may become a problem for the first time, especially if you have to work where you sleep, while getting easily distracted is another issue that could hamper your progress at work.

There are obvious consequences for people’s mental health, that arise in response to the outcomes of working from home. Some include depression, social anxiety, panic disorders and impostor syndrome (to name but a few).

So what can be done to solve potential issues?

The most obvious starting point is to consider if there are any other places that you can work from that will minimise the challenges presented by working from home.

It might be worth contacting your friends or family to see if they have a suitable space for you to work from in their home.

Alternatively, co-working spaces may be an option. Companies like Regus offer affordable packages for the unlimited use of their business lounges, starting from £75 per month.

Spending money on office space might not be ideal financially but it could help significantly in terms of maintaining your quality of life. It might be an idea to ask your employer to help cover the cost or you could alternatively find a space that is close to your home so that you can cover it with the money that might have otherwise spent commuting.

If it’s not possible to work away from your home, the American Psychiatric Association have provided a number of ideas that could help to make working from home easier.

Here are 3 key recommendations to consider.

1. Exercise and staying active

According to the American Psychiatric Association exercise is “not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health”. They suggest that individuals should periodically get up and move around their home. Whether it is walking, stretching, doing press ups or skipping (whatever works best for you), exercise will reduce or alleviate stress and increase endorphins.

2. Set boundaries on work schedule

Another key suggestion is for individuals to set boundaries when it comes to their work schedule, not only with their family members but also with their employers. According to the American Psychiatric Association it’s necessary for individuals to manage their time effectively in terms of setting a time that is purely for work and other times that are purely for household activities. It’s easy for people to break their schedules but the suggestion is that you should be very rigid with this separation of time. Of course, this won’t be easy for some people depending upon their situation but where possible, it’s important to create a firm boundary between work and family-based activities. 
According to the American Psychiatric Association exercise is “not only good for your physical health, but also your mental health”. They suggest that individuals should periodically get up and move around their home. Whether it is walking, stretching, doing press ups or skipping (whatever works best for you), exercise will reduce or alleviate stress and increase endorphins.

3. Distract and redirect

The final point is to try and redirect any negative feelings or emotions. If you are starting to feel anxious or depressed, the American Psychiatric Association suggest that you try to distract yourself by focusing your time and energy on things that you enjoy. Whether it is painting, watching clips on YouTube or playing the guitar, doing something that you enjoy is the best way to avoid symptoms of mental health problems. To further that point, the American Psychiatric Association also suggest that people should limit their consumption of the media as those outlets tend to artificially increase fears, anxiety and feelings of depression. Instead, they suggest that people get their news (or information) from authoritative sources like government websites. 

Final Thoughts

If you are struggling with working from home, the most fundamental advice is to seek out help where appropriate. If you’d prefer to work from the office, it may be worth discussing the situation with your employer to see if a suitable alternative can be arranged.
It’s important to balance this post by highlighting that there are many people that enjoy working from home. The flexibility and distance that it offers from superiors can improve people’s attitudes towards their job, which ultimately improves job satisfaction. Many have also found that working from home has improved their work-life balance.
Whether you enjoy working from home or not, it’s important to always look after your mental health and some of the suggestions given in this article are applicable in various aspects of life.

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How Working From Home Affects Mental Health - What People Can Do to Overcome Issues