Mental Health and Working from Home: What You Need to Know

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread across the globe, many companies have kept work from home policies in place in order to continue to protect their employees and help keep the virus contained. An office environment is particularly susceptible to facilitating the spread of coronavirus because of the enclosed space and prolonged proximity to coworkers that an office creates.

However, working from home comes with its own challenges, especially if it’s isn’t something you’ve practiced before in your work life. Your mental health is at a particular risk when you switch almost exclusively to working from home.

Here are some ways to protect your own mental health and stay positive while you’re working from your home office, no matter how long it continues.

Mental Health and Coronavirus

Alongside the other changes many of us are experiencing with transitioning to remote work, many people are also dealing with disruption in their daily routines that causes added stress and anxiety in other aspects of our lives. The isolation from friends and family can cause loneliness and increased feelings of anxiety that can be difficult to deal with.

A pandemic is a new situation for most of us, and because of its nature, it can be frightening. There is no way that any of us can control the situation, and the virus is going to spread at its own pace. Intervention by humans, though it may help to slow the spread, certainly won’t get rid of the virus completely.

We may be months or even years away from a working vaccine that can help prevent the virus, and in the meantime, masks and social distancing have quickly become a part of our everyday lives. The pandemic has affected nearly all aspects of our lives and things are not yet done changing.

Remote Work and Mental Health

Remote work has long been touted as the best of both worlds, keeping your work life going on your own terms while still making time for your family and friends. But the reality is that remote work can be quite isolating, and remote workers often struggle to feel connected to their coworkers and to keep their motivation up outside of an office environment.

Without the ability to meet with coworkers casually throughout the office or asking questions by walking to the next desk over, it can be difficult to effectively communicate and feel that your views are being heard by your bosses and colleagues. So how can you deal with remote work difficulties and the other stresses you may be experiencing right now during this pandemic while you’re at home? Here are a few suggestions:

Work from home

1. Limit Your Work Hours

One of the biggest issues that remote workers frequently deal with is burnout and overwork. Despite many supervisors’ worries about remote workers not getting enough done at home, the reality is that the problem is usually the opposite.

Many remote employees overwork themselves out of worry that they aren’t doing enough. With 24/7 access to email, phone, and chat via the internet, setting boundaries for your home office can be quite challenging.

To help avoid burnout and overwork, it is best to set work hours for yourself, just like you might at the office. If you come in typically around 9 a.m. and then leave for home at 4 or 5 p.m., keep those same hours at home. It helps if you have a space specifically dedicated to your office at home, too, so that you can leave or close the door when work is over.

2. Stay Connected

Face-to-face connection isn’t easy with the increased isolation of the pandemic, and that can be quite hard on your mental health. Luckily, increased use of technology makes it easier than ever to connect with your friends, family, and coworkers virtually.

Try connecting with your colleagues on issues that don’t only involve work. A virtual cocktail hour, sharing your weekend plans, or just a casual chat can be enough to foster workplace camaraderie and make you feel less isolated as you work from home.

3. Keep a Schedule

One of the best ways to help reduce feelings of anxiety or depression is by keeping a regular schedule. If you’re staying up late and sleeping in as a result, it can be difficult to focus.

Adhering to a schedule for when you do things throughout the day can make a big difference in how you feel. Try getting up at the same time and going to bed at the same time, and work in regular breaks throughout the day for a change of pace.

If you can, take some time to get outdoors, whether it’s for a quick walk around the block, reading a book on your porch or patio, or simply having coffee outside. A change of scenery can boost your mood and improve your mental health.