How to Keep Your Mental Health in Check If You Work From Home
It's harder than you might realize.
Working from home sounds like a dream come true: You don’t need to commute, you can work in your pajamas, and there are no coworkers breathing down your neck all day.
But as ideal as telecommuting may seem, some research suggests that working from home might actually be harmful to an employee’s mental health.
All jobs have their pros and cons, so while some employees thrive while working from their home office, at a cafe, or from their couch, others might need a bit more social feedback.
Ryan Hooper, a clinical psychologist in Chicago, told HuffPost that working from home can often lead to feelings of disconnection and isolation. “For some people, the feedback and encouragement loop of the work environment is critical to their jobs,” Hooper explained. Getting the immediate feedback that often comes easily in an office setting or even just interacting with coworkers face-to-face can be beneficial to workers who would feel out of touch in a home environment.
While you may think working from home could be freeing for people who get too stressed in the office, it can also cause anxiety and guilt because workers feel a constant need to appear “busy.” Feeling like you need to “prove” you’re being productive and are a worthwhile worker can make for a toxic environment at home or in the office.
It can also be difficult for work-at-home employees to strike a balance between work and personal errands during the day.
“It can be really helpful to get some household chores done in the middle of the workday, like switching laundry or picking up a child from school,” Cara Maksimow, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist, told HuffPost. “But the lines between work and home can blur and make it hard to ‘turn it off.’”
Some work-from-home employee may get so caught up in personal business that they cannot finish work when they need to, while others may find it difficult to set a definitive “end” to their work day, which can affect their home life.
“Being a self-starter, maintaining good organization and being a great communicator are all important for working from home,” Hooper said. He also noted that people with anxiety or depression may do better working in a supportive office rather than telecommuting.
If you are struggling with the work-from-home life, try to make things easier on yourself by creating a definite workspace and schedule. At the office, this is easy, but home workers can find their hours getting murky as time goes by.
Maksimow also noted that taking time for self-care such as exercise or meditation is essential for any home worker. “Disconnection from work is an important component to feeling refreshed and motivated,” she said. So, put down that laptop at the end of the day and feel free to take a walk outside. Your mind will thank you.