The pandemic and the transition to working from home have been incredibly difficult for millions of people. While some have adjusted, and even thrived, in a work-from-home environment, countless others have seen the negative effects on their mental health.
When you work from home, mental health can be hard to prioritize. However, if you are seeing changes in your mood or behavior, you may be experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. Here are some red flags to watch out for as you navigate your work-from-home situation.
Anxiety and Stress
Within the work-from-home environment, there is less of a separation between work and home. This can make it easy to become consumed with your work and overwhelmed by the additional responsibilities you may have been asked to take on.
Here are some of the red flags to look for that can come from anxiety and stress.
If you have never experienced an attack associated with anxiety before, it can be a strange feeling. Some people even confuse them for heart attacks!
You might experience hyperventilation, an elevated heart rate, numbness in the hands and feet, racing thoughts, and more. The entire experience can be overwhelming.
If you have this experience, find a safe place to sit or lie down. Then, focus on your breathing. Try to keep it steady and even.
If you start having panic attacks regularly, it may be helpful to speak with a mental health professional about the underlying causes and coping mechanisms.
The racing thoughts associated with anxiety and stress can lead to issues like insomnia. The problem is, the less sleep you get, the less stress your body will be able to withstand!
Your brain and body reset during sleep, and if you aren’t getting enough of it, your ability to deal with the stress of your job will diminish.
Uncontrolled Stress Eating
Whether you can’t stop eating, or you just can’t seem to develop an appetite anymore, stress and anxiety can cause serious disruptions to your relationship with food.
While it may be alright for short periods, prolonged instances of overeating or undereating can contribute to the development of eating disorders.
Depression and Isolation
Working from home can also lead to loneliness, isolation, and potentially depression. Human beings, even the most introverted ones, are social creatures. We thrive from physical contact, emotional connection, and mental stimulation.
If you live alone and you are now working from home, the amount of social interaction you experience every day has probably diminished drastically. Here are some red flags to look for that are associated with depression.
Low Energy and Motivation
If you are becoming depressed, one of the main symptoms is a lack of energy and motivation. While everyone has down days, if you are spending several days at a time in bed, unable to get up, you need to see a mental health professional.
This kind of low energy can lead to struggles in taking care of yourself and your family.
Thoughts of Self Harm and Suicidal Ideation
It is important to note that self-harm and suicidal ideation are separate thought processes. Just because someone hurts themselves, doesn’t mean that they want to die.
However, both though patterns present dangers and should be discussed with a mental health professional.
This is especially important if you have been working from home and sheltering in place for a long time. If you do not have your normal support system around you, then you need to keep a sharp eye out for red flags in your own life.
Sometimes depression comes with strong feelings of sadness and despair. For some, however, depression can present as more of a lack of feeling, or dullness of feeling. If you are turning to substances like drugs or alcohol to deal with your depression, then this is one of the most important red flags to look out for.
Alcoholism and depression are highly likely to occur in the same people at the same time. People with depression have to be careful with their substance use, and look out for red flags that it could become substance abuse.
If you feel like you cannot get through the day, or function at all, without drinking, then you should speak to a substance abuse expert and mental health professional about what steps you can take to improve your quality of life.
Focusing on Work-Life Balance
Finding ways to create healthy boundaries between your work and the rest of your life is a great first step in improving your mental health. You can choose a specific time when you are going to “leave” work each evening. You can also let your supervisor know that you cannot respond to work-related communication after a certain time at night.
Another great step you can take in the right direction is to sign up for counseling or addiction services with a reputable mental health facility. Depending on your situation, this might be family therapy, addiction counseling, in-patient treatment, or out-patient treatment.
Do You See These Red Flags in Your Work from Home Mental Health?
In isolated instances, many of these red flags are not dangerous. Having a bad day now and then is a perfectly normal human phenomenon.
However, if your work from home mental health is drastically different than your health before the pandemic, you may want to talk with someone about how you can turn your health back around.
Interested in making healthy choices for your mental and physical health? Check out our Treatment Programs to find the right option for you.