Working from home affects each person differently. As the world climate changes more individuals are working remotely than ever before, some without knowing when they’ll be back in the office. Major companies including Twitter, Facebook, Square, and Google state that employees can remain working remotely indefinitely, or at least for the foreseeable future.
To some, this is GR8 news. To others, it brings the possibility of increased symptoms of mental health issues like depression. It’s hard to know how each person will adapt to their new work surroundings and it’s crucial to check in with yourself regularly to take a quick mental inventory.
The Benefits of Working from Home
Mental Health America explains that having the ability to work remotely can significantly improve the mental health of many. Workplace stress goes down, the hassle of everyday commuting disappears, and those who struggle with conditions such as social anxiety disorder may find that many of their symptoms dissipate.
Others find themselves happier as they get a few hours back in their day to spend time with the family, finally having the opportunity to sit down for meals. Those with animal companions may also find that their moods improve, as science shows time with pets significantly reduces stress. With your dog by your side throughout a hectic work day, you may find that the little things don’t bother you quite as much.
Furthermore, surveys state that 65% of individuals working remotely report increased feelings of productivity, 80% report that getting to spend more time with loved ones is benefiting their lives, and less than half miss the social environment of the office. For many, it seems that working from home is improving their quality of life.
Many individuals working from home report feeling:
- Less stressed
- More rested
- More relaxed
- A better work/life balance
If you’re among this group of people that’s GR8. We’re glad that working from home is going well for you and that your mental health is in good shape. But remain cognizant, because while you may feel wonderful now, things can change. There are key things to be on the lookout for.
When Your Mental Health Starts Declining
Not everyone sees an improvement in their mental health when working from home. Some individuals may even notice that their mental health starts to decline. Social self-care is important, and for some, the bulk of their face-to-face interactions happen in the workplace.
For those who are home alone all day, without family or even pets, they may face intense feelings of isolation. Currently, more co-workers are communicating via video call on a regular basis, but not always. And still, for some, this brief digital interaction may not be enough to solve the isolation blues.
Signs You May be Struggling
You may begin struggling with mental health while working from home without even realizing. This may be particularly true if you have never suffered from feelings such as depression or anxiety before in the past. With such a drastic change to your lifestyle it’s possible that your brain begins to react, triggering symptoms.
Be on the lookout for new or worsening feelings of:
- Intense loneliness
- Decreased appetite or sudden overeating
- Sleep disturbances: excessive fatigue or insomnia
- Feelings of worthlessness or not being good enough
- Frequent worrying
- Racing thoughts
- Frequent headaches
- Frequent digestive issues
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in hobbies or activities
- Feeling distant from your family and friends
- Feeling as if no one understands you
- Withdrawing from social situations
- Feelings of apathy
- Poor concentration
If you recognize any combination of these symptoms, contact your primary care physician or therapist as soon as possible.
What to Do
Whether you’re feeling GR8 with your remote work, are starting to miss the office, or a combination of both, you must be aware of your emotions. Take a moment at the end of each day and ask yourself how you feel. If the answer is bad more often than it is good, it may be a sign that your mental health is taking a hit.
However, there are ways that you can give yourself a boost when going back to the office isn’t an option. First, if you’re sitting inside all day try to take a break and get outside. Sunshine can aid mental health. Next, reach out to friends, family, and coworkers for video chats or calls. If you don’t notice an improvement or continue to feel worse instead of better, consider reaching out to your Human Resources department, insurance company, or do some online searches to find a therapist.
Therapists are also working from home quite a bit these days and many are offering Telehealth sessions. Seeing a therapist is more common than you may think. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.