RAFT Counseling on the Pros and Cons of Working from Home on your Mental Health
It's no secret that working from home has its perks. You can take breaks when you need them, work in your PJs, and avoid long commutes. But did you know that working from home could also lead to depression? According to research, people who work from home are more likely to be depressed than those who don't. So, what's the deal? Why does working from home lead to such high levels of depression? Let's take a look.
Working from home certainly has its pros. You can design your own office, take breaks when you want, and avoid the stressful commute. But there are also some cons to working from home that you should be aware of.
Despite the extra time to drink your coffee in the morning, and your favorite co-worker pets being able to join you for the day, working from home comes with some risks for depression and isolation. For instance, you may find yourself feeling isolated from co-workers, which can lead to loneliness and sadness. At first, the freedom from distractions in the break room and disruptions to your work, can feel incredibly productive and empowering. But over time, we miss these interactions as humans. The connectedness of co-workers can be a large source of support even if we don't realize it at the time.
Additionally, the lack of structure that comes with working from home can lead to feelings of aimlessness and boredom. When we are at home, there is always something that is waiting for us. Chores like laundry, dishes, and cooking are calling to us the minute we have a break. We might find ourselves overwhelmed by the number of things that need our attention. And on the other side, we can feel aimless when we don't structure our time like we would if we were driving into an office for the day.
Finally, if you don't have a dedicated workspace, it can be difficult to focus on work and stay organized. Working from the couch or in bed might sound like a dream, but it can actually lead to more anxiety and less productivity.
If you find yourself feeling depressed while working from home, there are some things you can do to help yourself.
First, make sure you're taking breaks throughout the day. These breaks can be important to refresh and reground yourself. The convenience of working from home can make it way too easy to get consumed by the work in front of you. Make sure you are getting up and away from your desk throughout the day.
In addition, take some time during those breaks to include connection with others. You can try incorporating walks, chatting with your neighbor for a few minutes, or calling a friend or family member to check in on them. The purpose of this is to incorporate social connection throughout your regular routine again. Try to schedule regular check-ins with your co-workers. Finally, if you're struggling, don't hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional for help.
Structuring your day can also challenge the depression and sadness of working from home. When we drive into the office, we have a designated space that is just for getting that work done and being productive for those projects. The list of things that need our attention outside of work, and at home, has to wait. Structuring your day can help with feelings of boredom, aimlessness, and overwhelm. You can set up expectations for yourself in this way when working from home, with designated times for each task that is waiting for you.
Finally, make sure you have a dedicated workspace that is separate from your living space. This not only set you up with practical organization for success, it also sends a clear message to your brain about which space is for working. This helps clarify and separate the urge to "take work home", when you are already working from home. And once that separation is clearer, you will have more bandwidth to focus on the things that are more important for your mental health. Don't have enough room for a designated office? Maybe you can clear a corner of a room for your working space. The point is to have a space that is used exclusively for work that does not overlap with your spaces used for living outside of work. Using your bedroom and living room as spaces to relax, connect, and do things that are enjoyable, will improve your mental health. By alleviating sadness and depression, you will feel better. Ultimately, this can be a win all around, because when you feel better, you will actually return to your work in a more productive way.
Working from home doesn't have to be a depressing experience. By following some of the tips above, you can help yourself to still feel connected and challenge the isolation. The guilt of stepping away from the work that is waiting for you, can decrease when you get intentional with these steps. Structuring your day like you would at an office away from home, can be healthy and powerful for improving your health.
Working from home can be a dream come true for many people. However, it can also lead to feelings of isolation and depression if not done correctly. Working from home has its pros and cons, and by being aware of the risks, you can take steps to avoid depression and loneliness. By taking breaks, staying connected with others, structuring your day, and designating an office space, you can decrease the chances of feeling isolated and depressed while working from home. If you need support in taking these steps, contact RAFT Counseling for professional therapist support. We are here to help you live a healthy and happy life whether you are at home or out in the world. We want to partner with you while working from home to have the best possible experience! Telehealth is available throughout Colorado and in office sessions are available at our Parker, CO office. We would love to partner with you!