Working from home is a dreamy prospect for many and I’ve already spoken about the health benefits I believe this lifestyle can offer.
However, as someone with lifelong mental health conditions I felt it important to talk about this topic in relation to working from home.
Like any major change in lifestyle, it’s going to have an effect on your mental well being – whether in a good or bad way. So if you’re thinking of going full-time freelance or working from home, this post is for you.
So far, I think working from home has helped me, but it’s not all sunshine and roses. There are some key concerns that I need to keep an eye on.
Mental health worries from working alone
- Working alone – I’m an introvert and socially anxious so I don’t need constant socialisation. But is working alone 100% of the time ever a good thing? It’s something that needs to be seriously considered.
- More time to wallow – I wallow a lot anyway, but with less noise and fewer distractions, I’m left with a brain talking louder than ever. This could be a major downside unless I’m kept busy.
- Becoming a bit of a hermit – I’ve always preferred indoors and staying at home. By working from home I rarely need to leave the house (woohoo) but this isn’t particularly healthy for anyone and needs to be addressed.
Things you can do to maintain good mental health
One of the key benefits of setting your own working hours is that you can fit in exercise a lot more easily. I’ve got a mini home gym with weights and a cross trainer. I’m trying to do a little bit each day and have noticed it leaves me feeling more positive. Pretty much every expert out there says exercise is one of the best things you can do to improve your mood.
Setting your own working hours means you can go the gym at any time of day – including off-peak times which can mean cheaper memberships and fewer crowds.
Go for walks
Getting out, even in the minimal sun we have now is good for your mental health. It helps to break the day up, gives you some exercise, the chance to meet others and also helps you stock up on essential vitamins.
It could be a wander to the shop, walking the dog or just jogging around the block. Try to get out a least once a day. This is something I really need to work on.
Join a class
Have a hobby or interest you were too busy to pursue in the past? When you work as a freelancer, you have more free time to pursue hobbies and interests. This gets you out of the house, helps you learn more and also interact with people.
Take regular breaks and set a schedule
There are usually two breeds of freelancer – those that don’t know when to stop and those that don’t know when to start. Working from home can lead to less work output, but in some cases it can lead to work consuming all your free time.
Without established breaks, it’s so easy to just carry on working. And that’s no good for anyone. You need to step away from the computer and take time to relax.
It may help to schedule breaks through alarm reminders or through an app on your phone.
The common advice for remote workers is to set strict working hours. This helps you stick to your plans and also not overwork yourself.
Having a separate home office is also really important if you can because you can literally walk away from work at the end of the day.
Work from a co-working space or cafe
Getting out of the house to work is a great way to get some fresh air, change your scenery, spark new ideas and interact with others.
I personally find cafes quite distracting and noisy so it’s hard for me to work in them. Co-working spaces are a good alternative if you have one nearby but they can get expensive. Other options include libraries, parks or even hotel lobbies. It doesn’t have to be all day, it can just be for an hour or two.
The great thing about this lifestyle is how flexible it is. You can try lots of different methods of working to find one that suits you best.
This can have such a good effect on your mental well being alone. But consciously considering how things will affect your mental health is really important if you have a condition or a tendency towards anxiety or low self-esteem.
I’d love to hear what other freelancers do to manage their mental health. How do you stay positive? Have you identified any triggers or risks to working alone?