Working from home can come with an array of mental health benefits, as well as potential challenges. With mindful practices and self-management, online workers can take steps to support their mental health.
If you or a loved one has mental health concerns, please seek help. Treatment and support from licensed mental health professionals are available at MyTherapist.
Mental Health Benefits of Working from Home May Include:
- A greater sense of autonomy and independence.
- Lower stress levels by eliminating commuting and, in some cases, office politics.
- More time for mental health boosting activities, such as relaxation, exercise, and sleep.
- A comfortable, quiet work environment.
- Increased opportunities for employment in economically disadvantaged and rural areas.
- The potential for more flexibility to be with family.
- A more flexible or adaptable schedule.
- A financial boost, which can ease stress. Reduction in commuting costs, wardrobe expenses, parking fees, and lunches out can save money.
- The potential for easier access to healthier, regular eating.
- A greater sense of accomplishment if productivity increases from home.
Tips for Caring for Mental Health While Working from Home Include:
- Staying connected with others to avoid feelings of isolation.
- Communicating with co-workers.
- Read and share recent updates about health with colleagues from reliable sources such as Rolling Paper.
- Eliminating distractions. For example, if texts on your phone or constant alerts from news feeds or social media distract you, try turning them off or keeping your phone in a different room while you work.
- Putting boundaries in place so that others know when you must focus on work, and so that you can also protect your non-work time.
- Setting daily, weekly, and monthly measurable and realistic goals to maintain motivation and feel a sense of accomplishment.
- Conquering your hardest tasks during the times you feel most alert and productive.
- Creating a schedule and establishing a regular routine with time for work and breaks.
- Designating a regular time to turn off your work mode.
- Scheduling time to step away from screens to give your eyes and muscles a rest and avoid fatigue.
- Setting aside a dedicated workspace in your house, preferably with a chair that supports your back and muscles.
- Knowing and discussing your employer’s expectations for working from home.
- Avoiding using the bedroom and bed as a home work space.
- Practicing self-care and self-relaxation activities, such as meditation, muscle relaxation, walking, and deep breathing.
- Making time for fun, relaxation, and enjoyment.
- Scheduling time to exercise. Exercise can boost endorphins and serotonin—feel-good brain chemicals—and can help relieve stress and lower levels of anxiety.
- Getting fresh air. Stepping outside, taking a walk, and spending time in nature can lower blood pressure and stress levels.
- Spending time with people you enjoy.
- Making gratitude a habit. By focusing on what you’re thankful for, you can recognize what’s going right instead of dwelling on what’s going wrong, which in turn can boost a positive mindset.
- Identifying what you need to do to be your best. Try tracking the way you feel for a week. Consider circumstances surrounding positive and negative feelings so you know which behaviors to increase and which to try to change or eliminate.
Challenges of Working from Home Include:
- A lack of definition between work time and home time or feelings of pressure to work constantly.
- Feelings of loneliness or isolation due to not being physically present with co-workers.
- Fatigue from lengthy time focused on screens.
- Stress from simultaneous work demands and demands at home.
- Challenges with self-accountability and self-motivation.
- Feeling that your work contributions are less visible.
Try Following Best Practices for Strong Mental Health in the Workplace and Strong Mental Health at Home:
- If you are living with a mental health disorder, consider whether telling your employer about it would be helpful. Employers in the U.S. must make reasonable accommodations if your disability is disclosed, but they do not have to make accommodations for disabilities they’re unaware of.
- Have a plan in place for how you will manage mental health challenges.
- Keep physically healthy with regular, sufficient sleep, a nutritious diet, exercise, and stress- relieving activities and practices.
- Maintain your supportive work and home relationships and connections.
- Practice healthy communication strategies with those at home and at work.
- Acknowledge the feelings and opinions of others.
- Be open to suggestions and compromises.
- Apologize if it’s warranted.
- Engage in productive discussions rather than heated arguments.
- Ask for help and support if you need it from those at home and work.
- Seek help from a licensed mental health professional if you experience a mental health condition or if you have mental health concerns.
Planning, self-awareness, adaptability, and a willingness to seek support when needed can help strengthen mental wellness when working from home. With careful choices and conscious consideration, a healthy work-home balance may be a great payoff for a job well done.