For many Americans, the switch to remote work has become a permanent one. It has its perks (Convenient? Absolutely. Economical? No question) but telecommuting also has its downsides. The most obvious: working from home can leave a person feeling really lonely. Even for the most antisocial person, loneliness can be a devastating feeling that causes a cascade of adverse physical and mental health consequences.
Loneliness has been linked to cognitive decline, impaired executive function, increased stress, decreased cardiovascular function and immunity, sleep problems, and even lower life satisfaction. It’s a laundry list. The presence of just one of these symptoms is enough to have a detrimental impact on mental health, so it’s clear to see the major mental health risks that full-time remote workers face.
If you currently work from home or are considering remote employment, you’ll want to take measures to maintain your psychological well-being. We have 7 tips to share with you for balancing remote work and mental health.
How do you work from home and stay sane?
As a remote worker, you may experience feelings of isolation, boredom, and anxiety while working from home. But, it is important to understand that taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Here are our tips to help you maintain your mental well-being while working remotely.
- Establish a routine
Working from home can mean staying in the same few hundred square feet for most–if not the entire–day. The lack of change in the scenery can lead to days bleeding into one another and entire weeks being one fuzzy memory. Having a consistent schedule can help you maintain a sense of structure and stability while working from home. This extends beyond just having regular work hours but meal times and breaks too. Routines will prevent the days from feeling like they’re running away from you.
- Create a designated workspace
It is important to have a designated workspace in your home, separate from your living space, to help you maintain a professional mindset while working. Make sure your workspace is comfortable, well-lit, and equipped with the tools you need to do your job effectively.
- Set boundaries
It can be difficult to separate work and personal time while working from home. Set boundaries by creating a specific work schedule, avoiding work-related tasks outside of work hours, and making sure to unplug from work when you’re done for the day. Creating physical boundaries can help reinforce this idea of separation between work and personal life.
- Stay physically active
Regular exercise can help reduce stress and improve mental health. Make time for physical activity every day, whether it’s going for a walk, doing yoga, or lifting weights.
- Connect with others
Remote work can be isolating, so it is important to maintain connections with others. Reach out to coworkers, friends, and family regularly through video calls, text messages, or email. Consider joining online communities or groups that share your interests or hobbies.
- Take breaks
Taking breaks is essential for mental health and can help you avoid burnout. Make sure to take breaks throughout the day, such as stepping away from your computer, taking a walk, or practicing mindfulness.
- Practice self-care
Taking care of yourself is key to maintaining mental health. This can include things like getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Seek support if you’re feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your mental health, don’t hesitate to seek support. Talk to a friend, family member, or therapist, or consider reaching out to an employee assistance program if your company offers one.
How your home affects your mental health
Numerous studies have shown that your environment can directly impact your mood, stress levels, and even your productivity. Clutter can be seriously distracting. Natural light can reduce anxiety. The color of your walls can energize or relax you.
So it’s important to be intentional with your physical surroundings. In case you don’t have the ability to shape your space with elements that suit you best, you may want to consider finding a different location for your working hours.
However, there are also some small tweaks that don’t require major purchases, time, or effort, but can have a huge impact:
- Bring greenery inside your home
- Choose lighting that is stimulating but doesn’t hurt your eyes
- Find a calming playlist for background noise
- Focus on air quality and invest in a humidifier or dehumidifier
Is remote work right for me?
Working remotely can present unique challenges to mental health, but with the right strategies in place, it’s possible to keep a healthy work-life balance. If you’re concerned about maintaining this balance, talk to a mental health professional today.