Working from home sounds like a dream to many people. The thought of rolling out of bed just in time to start work without a lengthy commute or the need to deal with any annoying coworkers is certainly alluring, but there has been an increased focus on mental health in this setting. When working alone for long periods of time, the risk of loneliness and isolation becomes a real issue. Luckily, there are ways of overcoming these triggers of depression and anxiety.
How to Spot the Signs
Quite often, we don’t realise that we are creating an environment which can make us anxious until we are in the middle of an anxiety attack. It is important to spot the signs of stress so we can deal with them before they build up.
When working from home, you might find yourself constantly ‘plugged-in’. If you are working more hours than you would in the office, then it is time to disconnect from the computer. Overworking is a common sign of anxiety as you worry that you are not doing enough. Depression, on the other hand, often presents as anger or irritability, with a lack of energy and interest in things that might have once excited you. You might struggle with concentration or the idea of socialising.
How to Keep Mental Health Issues at Bay
It is possible to work from home and have a healthy mind. Take note of the following tips to help prevent isolation, stress, anxiety and depression.
Set up a schedule for each day
While working from home allows you to be flexible, it also increases the risk of never getting away from the computer. Before you start work each day, decide what hours you will be at your computer and what tasks you will aim to complete within that time frame. This gives you a clear plan that will help keep you focused and also provide a definite end-of-workday feeling.
Create an office in your home
Designating a specific space as your work area can help to keep a boundary between work and home life. Do not be tempted to work from your bed or the sofa – these are areas to relax and unwind in. If you can shut the door on the rest of the household, that’s great – if not, make sure there are certain rules in place that will facilitate your ability to concentrate.
Upgrade your workspace
Get a table that sits at a comfortable working height and a chair that offers ergonomic benefits such as lumbar support. You’ll need a competent computer with a monitor and an external speaker and camera to allow for virtual work meetings. Adorn your space with green plants for a healthier working environment.
Schedule in exercise
Exercise gets our blood flowing and boosts our motivation so that we can be more productive. It also releases serotonin which is the feel-good hormone responsible for keeping depression at bay. Any exercise is great – go for a walk, head to the gym or join a sports team.
Fight those cravings
Working from home can make the lure of the refrigerator almost impossible to ignore. Keep those cravings for snacks at bay by regularly brushing your teeth and chewing gum, drinking plenty of water and keeping any unhealthy foods well out of reach. If you do feel like giving in, try to select healthy options like fruit, chopped vegetables or protein-rich nuts and seeds.
Make sure you get your daily hit of Vitamin D by spending plenty of time outdoors. Spending time with nature relaxes and destresses us, so that we are then better able to cope with the demands of homeworking. Take your time to notice the trees and smell the flowers. Listen to the birdsong and feel the grass beneath your feet. Whether you are lucky enough to have a garden or use your outdoor time to get your daily exercise by heading to the park, learning to be ‘at one’ with nature is important for your soul.
Make time to interact with at least one person you love each day. If you live alone, then that socialisation is all the more important, but even those who live with a large family need others to offload onto. Make sure to work this into your schedule, whether you are planning to phone your parents or meet your best friend for a stroll in the park, this contact can put you in a brighter, happier mood. Some days, your only communication might be with the local newsagent, so be sure to greet them with a big smile and engage in some small talk. Working from home is fantastic, but humans are social creatures that thrive on contact with others.
When you have finished your workday and taken time to speak with loved ones, either face-to-face, on the phone or via messaging, treat yourself to a digital detox for the rest of the evening. This will help you to sleep better and have more meaningful relationships with the other people in your home, making you more satisfied with life in general.