Working from home has been a hot topic for a while now, but we’re still seeing that this new way of working is affecting our mental health. Whether you’re spending fewer days in the office or perhaps you’re a full-time freelancer, the traditional working day has changed.
One study reported that working from home had a positive effect on 52.36% of the group’s wellbeing, whereas 21% stated remote work has a negative impact and 26.64% said they felt the same. While this study leans towards a positive impact, it’s interesting that results are pretty split across the board.
While the working from home experience varies for everyone, we can see a few general effects it’s having on our mental health. If you want to find out more about how remote work is impacting your mental health and what you can do about it, keep on reading!
A New Office Culture
Since the start of the pandemic, more and more of us have retreated home to work from our living rooms. This shake-up has taught us a new way of working and living, but is this good for us?
On one hand, working from home removes any commute time, allows us to be more comfortable while working, and lets us spend more time with friends and family members. On the other, we lack daily communication with colleagues, it can be very isolating, and sometimes it’s tough getting jobs done without clear in-person communication.
At the end of the day, remote working will affect everyone’s mental health differently. But, there are some typical trends we can explore to see the general impacts of this new way of life. Hopefully, these impacts will help you decide whether working from home is the right solution for you and your mental health.
How has remote and flexible work affected our mental health negatively? We’ve researched the top complaints about remote work to help you take care of your mental health when working at home.
More Work Than Ever
Despite the fact we’re working from our comfort zones, the pandemic and working from home has increased our overall workloads. Many workers have complained about having more work than they would in an office, adding additional stress to their daily lives.
Though we have more time on our hands when working at home, should his time be filled with more work? It doesn’t seem fair that we’re doing more for the same salaries, which is causing further mental health issues too.
Extra work and no time to relax are leaving many workers feeling down, stressed, and even depressed too. One of the most important parts of being productive is taking time out and giving your brain time to refresh. With more work than ever, it doesn’t seem like a good work model if everyone is stretched thin and exhausted at home.
With higher workloads and infrequent communication, there’s no surprise that many of us have experienced more anxiety than ever. This is usually caused by a lack of boundaries between your work and personal life. It’s normal and often encouraged that we work in our evenings and on weekends too now, blurring the lines between relaxation time and office hours.
There’s no wonder we are always on edge when our phones and homes are full of work-related content. Some workers have even reported feeling guilty for not working in the evenings, a concept which is crazy! Are our homes becoming places we don’t want to be because of work?
Communicating through emails and Zoom calls is also difficult for some. Online calls can be stressful and emails don’t always cover projects in good depth, so navigating your way through bad briefs and instructions also adds anxiety and stress to work-life too.
One of the most common problems people have found about working from home is feeling isolated and lonely. Without office friends and colleagues, the workday can be lonely. The quick chats and jokes you share with others in the office are now gone and these natural connections can’t be replaced by a Zoom call where your boss is listening.
Though you can call friends and family, these quick Facetime calls can’t recreate the in-person interactions. This is a tough situation to face, especially if you live alone. Many want to return to the office as working alone has left them feeling depressed and isolated. Humans are social beings at the end of the day!
Higher Chance Of Burnout
Since workloads are higher, there are more feelings of isolation, and you’re working in your free time, it’s no surprise that burnout is happening to a lot of us. When there’s no clear separation between your personal and work life, your work often takes center stage, leaving you with no time for yourself.
If your job calls for you to work at home, you need to be proactive about your mental health to stay well and to avoid any potential burnouts. Luckily, there is a range of tips and tricks to put your mental health first when working remotely.
Though there are some unpleasant aspects of working from home, there have also been some positive effects from the situation too! Here are some of the key reasons people love working from home.
For some remote workers, leaving the office has allowed them to have better overall wellbeing at home. A key reason for this is probably because you have more time when you’re working from home. The extra couple of hours make a big difference when it comes to the quality of your life, so if your boss isn’t piling extra work on you, enjoy this extra time!
Lots of workers have taken this time to start cooking better, going for runs, or simply just relaxing. All of these activities improve our physical and mental health, boosting life satisfaction too. It can be hard to imagine life back in the office when you have a more relaxed routine at home.
More Time To Be Proactive About Mental Health
With more time to build a daily routine, many workers started adding extra activities that will help boost their mental wellbeing. One of the best ways to stay resilient in stressful situations is to invest in your mental health every day – even when you’re feeling good.
Being proactive about your mental health includes activities like eating well, staying hydrated, taking time to do hobbies, exercising, or even doing a complex skincare routine. Work out what self-care activities are best for you and make sure you spend more time on these if possible.
Less Time Commuting
One of the main benefits of working from home is ditching the long commute to the office. Though not everyone committed to a long journey every morning, some of us traveled three to four hours daily to get to work! Working from home has given us a lot more time, but commuting was actually bad for our mental health too.
Some studies have shown that standing on a train or bus for hours in the morning has negative effects on our well-being. Whether you realized it or not, commutes cause us to be more stressed out and they can lead to anxiety. Rolling out of bed and getting on with your morning routine at home has a much better impact on your mind and body too.
Time To Spend With Loved Ones
Another positive impact we’ve had from remote work is the ability to spend more time with loved ones. Parents have been able to watch their children grow up and have been more present in their lives. Though homeschooling can be a cause of added stress, having more time to spend with children at home is an overall good thing.
We’ve also had more time to see friends and extended family too! Though some of these interactions have been socially distanced, having more time to chat with others is a key source of mental wellbeing. Communication and affection are essential to building a great mental health mindset.
What Can You Do?
If you’re working from home and you want some good strategies to beat the negative impacts on your mental health, we’ve got your back. Here are some of the top tips and tricks to help you stay on top of your work and mental health when working remotely.
Plan Your Week
It’s easy to become unorganized when working from home. When your personal life and work-life are blurred, it’s more important than ever to have a reliable weekly plan to keep you on track.
A good plan will help you see how much time you’re spending working and this is needed so you don’t accidentally take on too much work and risk burnout. Plans are also great for getting admin tasks done, general home tasks, and you can schedule in time for important self-care too.
Spend Time Without A Screen
Working from home involves a whole lot of screen time, so in your spare time, it’s good to be mindful of your scrolling. It’s proven that excess screen time isn’t great for our mental health, so making sure we get a balance of real-life and technology is key.
It can be helpful to set time limits on certain social networks or apps so you’re more mindful about your time. You can also invest in blue light glasses that minimize the impact of artificial light on your eyes. This leads to better sleep and lower anxiety levels – great for anyone on a mission to relax more.
Get Enough Sleep
Similar to the last tip, putting strategies in place that help you sleep better is essential to feeling better in the day. As we’re working later at home, our sleeping routine may change too. It’s important to not stay up too late, as working in the dark can often cause more stress and depression. Stick to a reliable sleep schedule that works for you.
If you’re feeling restless and struggling to sleep at night, you can try avoiding screens for an hour before bed. It’s also helpful to drink warm tea, read, and stick to low lighting to help your body power down for a good night of rest.
If you find yourself working longer hours with no breaks, it could be time to set work boundaries with your boss or clients. A good way to do this is to avoid replying to emails after work hours unless they’re urgent or extremely important. The email will survive until the next morning where you’ll be more refreshed and in a better mood to respond to it.
This tip is great for your physical and mental health! When working from home, it’s a good idea to stick to a good meal plan that ensures you get enough nutrients and vitamins. Though this sounds simple, many of us end up eating chips or resort to junk food. This is more time-efficient than cooking, but it’ll often leave us feeling worse and we must eat good food to sustain our energy levels throughout the day.
Another good tip is to make sure you’re not sitting down all day. You don’t need to go out and join a sports team, however, making sure you do a 30-minute walk or some yoga daily will improve your mental health. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or having a particularly stressful day, try getting some fresh air on a brisk walk and you’ll feel calmer in no time.
Working from home comes with a different set of challenges, but with the right proactive methods, you can beat extra stress and enjoy the benefits of being at home. More time with loved ones and extra time to invest in yourself is always a good thing!
Have you tried working from home? What tips did you find helpful? Let us know in the comments!