While working from home has become the norm during the COVID19 global pandemic, the trend is likely to continue long after things return to “normal.” Companies have realized that they can not only continue their work with remote employees but that it comes with less overhead and expense.
While this is great news for many who enjoy the flexibility of working from home, solitary work can take its toll on those suffering from anxiety and depression. With over 40 million Americans living with anxiety and 16.2 million adults having at least one major depressive episode per year, learning how to cope while working from home is extremely important.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to take care of your mental health and mental wellness while working from home.
Read on for more information on keeping your mental health balanced with your work life.
Don’t Isolate Yourself
While one pro of working from home when dealing with anxiety and depression is that you don’t have to face people if you’re feeling particularly low, it can also be very easy to isolate yourself. While some people generally prefer to be alone, isolating yourself from everyone you love can exacerbate mental health issues.
Even if you’re a loner by nature, make sure you get some social interaction. This could mean joining a club, even if it’s only online. Or, make sure you plan to go out with a friend or family member once or twice a week.
If being alone makes your symptoms worse, then this is even more important. If you live alone, set up a system in place so that others check in on you at regular intervals. This may mean having a regular phone date with a friend or meeting your mom for breakfast each Saturday.
You may also wish to make a list of people you feel comfortable calling should your symptoms become overwhelming if you live alone. This way, you can be sure you have at least some way of communicating if you need to.
If you’ve recently been to rehab for an addiction, you may have a counselor or therapist who can help you when the isolation gets to be too much. Make sure to reach out to them if you need it. That’s exactly what they’re there for. Don’t suffer in silence.
Plan Time Outside or to Exercise
While exercise isn’t a magic cure-all for depression and anxiety, it can certainly help with symptoms. If you live with mild or moderate depression, exercise can also bring your symptoms down to a more manageable level.
The beauty of working from home is that you can take breaks between meetings or tasks in order to do whatever it is you want to do. If you completely set your own schedule, fitting in exercise is even easier.
When setting aside time to exercise, make sure you do something you actually like to do. Don’t make a goal to go to the gym at 12pm every day if you actually hate lifting weights and going on the treadmill. You may find you like following an online yoga flow, that a dance class is rewarding or that simply walking the dog is your exercise of choice.
You don’t need to exercise with the goal of losing weight in mind. Instead, exercise with the goal of clearing your head and bringing your mood up and anxiety down to a more manageable level.
Don’t Skip Out on Personal Hygiene
According to the New York Times, many Americans began showering less during the pandemic because they simply didn’t have to. If they’re not going into work to see people, there is no reason to shower every day.
While this is fine in that it can help the environment to cut down on showers, and you truly may not need to shower every day, don’t completely neglect your personal hygiene. Sometimes when depression and anxiety creep up, one thing that you stop doing is keeping up with personal hygiene. This can make you feel even more depressed and unmotivated, creating a vicious cycle.
If showering every day isn’t for you, that’s okay, but you should have some sort of routine to put you in the mindset for work. Changing out of your PJs and putting on a bra isn’t magically going to cure your depression or anxiety, but they can help put you in a working frame of mind. Even having “work sweatpants” that are designated for when you’re working can help you reframe how you think about your day.
Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew for Your Own Mental Wellness
For those who have never worked from home before, they often equate working from home as not working. Many people erroneously think they’ll suddenly have free time galore and will be able to do all sorts of things during the day. While you may devote a little bit less time to work each day, especially as you do away with your commute and lag time in between tasks, you still have responsibilities to meet.
As such, remember that you’ll still need to devote mental energy to work. Don’t overcommit yourself to work projects or things outside of work, as this can add to your stress and aggravate your anxiety and depression.
Mental Health and Working from Home
As we move into a new era in which working from home is the norm, it is more important than ever that we learn to care for our mental health and mental wellness as we do so. This is incredibly important for those with anxiety and depression, as sometimes working on your own can exacerbate these issues.
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