It is true that many people would appreciate more flexibility in their workplace. Nevertheless, working from home Vs working from home during a pandemic is a different ball game. Working from home during a pandemic is different, the pandemic has a way of making you scared or unstable about what could happen the next moment. Even worse, you can’t decide to step out of the comfort of your home to relax and take a break from work. All of your activities revolve around one spot (your home) and it could be taking its toll on you negatively.
If there was no pandemic you could take a break to a recreational center. Also, you can frequently alternate between work and fun so you sustain your motivation to work. In the absence of a pandemic, there is no breaking news to look out for. With a pandemic every news cycle matters, because you need to be aware to know what’s happening. You can’t visit friends because your liberty to move and round and interact is limited in the face of a pandemic. Apparently, this is the only way you can stay safe from the Covid-19 virus. Let’s face it, working from home does have an impact on your mental health.
How working from home takes its toll on you Psychologically
Working from home tends towards loneliness and isolation. When you’re working on-site, you get to interact with co-workers, and you see other living beings. The case is different with working from home, you’re alienated from the rest of the world. You need concentration and focus to be productive so, your workspace at home usually excludes you from interacting with others. This exclusion from interacting with others can go on for days and you wouldn’t feel any better as the coming days approach. Feeling lonely comes with other emotions such as anxiety, depression, and other somatic symptoms.
Anxiety could be because of the demanding nature of your work from home. Especially, when you have close deadlines, and you’re trying to do a lot in a short time. This usually happens when you have spent most of your time distracted from work so, you have made very little progress. Aside from close deadlines, not having a clear-cut environment for work and sleep can tire you out. Also, you can be under pressure to work 24/7 when you work from home. All of these conditions would increase your anxiety, it may be insignificant at first, but it would compound eventually. While you work from home you’re doing a lot, constantly you fluctuate between multitasking. You’re putting on different hats to solve different problems all on your own. With anxiety comes more vulnerability to stress. Mind you, these may be activities that wouldn’t significantly impact your health if your freedom of movement and interaction weren’t limited by the pandemic. I’d reiterate that working from home and working from home in the face of an on-going pandemic is different.
Owing to this loneliness, stress, isolation, and increased anxiety. Depression begins to loom at the corner, your vulnerability to depression becomes higher. Mind you, the signs and symptoms of depression in its early stages are subtle. When you hear depression think about subtle signs and symptoms before the full-blown effects of depression. A clinic gives us insight as to what signs and symptoms of depression entail. This catalog of signs and symptoms ranges from mild to full-blown depression. Let’s quickly run through the list:
- Increased craving for food.
- Increasingly finding it hard to think, concentrate, and remember things.
- Losing your emotions (angry outbursts) on small issues.
- Sleeping too much, sleep disturbances, and insomnia.
- Increased irritability and frustration with small matters/issues.
- Loss of interest in activities that used to interest you.
- Tiredness, and lack of energy for your daily activities.
- Reduced productivity, and loss of motivation to work.
- Back pains, and headaches amongst other physical unexplainable problems.
Managing Your Mental Health While you Work from Home
To get a hold of your mental health you need to accept your reality. Struggling with your reality would make you linked in the ditch. It’s happening to many others, you’re not alone, and it’s okay not to be an okay friend.
Secondly, you need to plan a routine for your stay at home. Beyond planning a routine, sustain the discipline to stick to your planned routine. A routine is a template that allows variety while helping you achieve your goal. Routines don’t have to be boring like you think, you could alternate between fun and work. Rather than stick to the same fun (say work out) in your routine. You can work out today, and play video games the next (this is where variety comes in). Your planned routine would only make sense when you’re disciplined enough to follow them detailedly. What would a planned routine do for you? It puts you in charge and makes you realize you’re trying to get the best out of your mental health. If you had consciously looked after your mental health we wouldn’t be talking about loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Contrary to how you see it, people who largely work from home prefer flexibility. This is something you must exploit while you work from home. Have routines that set milestones and prepare you mentally for each day’s work. Your routine must always allow for breaks, fun, and things that matter to you.
Thirdly, improve your home office. To get the best of working from home, there must be a clear demarcation for the work area in your house. It’s a big plus if your home office has a closed-door that allows you to concentrate, and focus better. This would give you a mental boost anytime you set out to work. You can sleep off working on your bed or couch, or decide to surf the net longer than you planned. A work area prepares you and helps your mindset tilt towards a place of productivity and work. To get the best home office experience make sure you have a wide desk and comfy chairs. Chairs that allow you to sit upright, with supports for your back, neck, spine, and butt. Your table must allow you to flex your muscles, wrist, and give you enough space for work without discomforting you. Also, you can add a sound system if it works for you, just get the best experience while you work.
Fourthly, make the best use of your home environment. Get up and move your body, resist the urge to sit or lie down all day. Exercising would tremendously reduce anxiety and stress. This means a lower incidence of depression, loneliness, and isolation. You can dance, do yoga, bike, jog, workout with gym equipment in your house, learn a new dance on YouTube, and more. Working out induces serotonin and endorphin production in your brain, which means you’d feel happier. Exercises also reduce your worry about overwork, you can’t engage your body while exercising and think at the same time. It’s a good distraction from the demands of your work.
I can’t speak of how serious the pandemic is on your side of the world. The odds are higher than if the situation is critical you’re more restricted from going out of your house and interacting. If it’s not so critical, you can always visit places around you. A study shows that spending time around nature does have an impact in restoring your from stress, and anxiety. There’s an air that comes with spending time around nature, it gives serenity to your soul. Also, it distracts you from negative thoughts or thoughts about work. You can take a walk, exercise around nature, put natural plants around your house, paintings of the beauty of nature in your home office also works, on and on goes the list. Try visiting nature parks, and recreational centers around you.
If the pandemic doesn’t allow you to interact much with family, friends, co-workers, and your favorite people. You can always spend a long time with them over calls, do video calls with them, and keep in touch. It has a therapeutic feeling and is capable of making you feel much better. You can also decide to visit them physically and spend time with them. I’d seriously warn you against taking more jobs, Say No! Everyone wants the bag (money), but you can’t do it at the expense of your mental health. Take a break from work, and ensure you don’t have too many deadlines. Your work schedule should give you as much breathing space as you need, and if possible it should give you a good time off. You can also consider co-working spaces, and work dates as a good time away from your house to interact with other humans while working.
I could go on and on, but I assure you that working from home is the best experience you haven’t explored. If you come as far as knowing your way around it through these tips, you’d want to sign up to permanently work from home.