Working from home sounds perfect, right? I’ve got to admit, it’s pretty fucking great.
I think it’s got a lot to offer us in terms of health and well-being. However, there is a flip side that is important to talk about – mental health.
Working from home can have both positive and negative impacts on your mental health. Though everyone is different, they tend to be:
The benefits to working from home:
- Space to relax and be yourself – If you’ve never felt at home in an office environment, it can be such a relief to walk away and start working in your very own space.
- Time to take for yourself – If you’re having an off day, you can go and work in your PJs
- The flexibility to schedule other beneficial activities – Going for a walk, visiting the gym, spending time with pets, friends or family.
The downsides to working from home:
- You might be on your own a bit too much – With introverts, alone time is good. But too much of it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
- You might get lazy – Yeah we all have big plans about going for lunchtime walks and hitting the gym in off peak hours, but it’s so much easier to just never leave your bed
- The stress is yours alone – When working with colleagues, you can vent and share the workload with others. If you work from home for yourself – it’s suddenly all on you
- More time to wallow – As a bit of a wallower, I know very well that if I’m not distracted, I’ll sink into a pit of self pity and despair. Left alone to your thoughts, may not be a great thing, if you’re anything like me.
If you are someone who suffers from mental health problems, it’s very important you maintain your mental health as well as you can.
Some ways you can maintain good mental health
Get a dog
As soon as I started working from home on my own, my partner suggested a dog. This was mostly because…well he wanted a dog but also, he knew me well enough to know I would never leave the house if I didn’t have to.
So, I got a dog, a puppy to be specific. He is very active and excitable and I have no choice but to leave the house, get some fresh air, exercise and actually talk to people. Sometimes, most of the time, I really don’t want to. But I have to and it’s for my own good.
Going out for walks has the benefit of getting fresh air and some essential vitamins.
Find others who work from home
If you know people who also work from home, great, set up some kind of buddy system where you all check in to see if everyone’s still sane.
If not, it might be worth joining some kind of forum, chat, Facebook group, sub Reddit to find others in a similar situation to you. You can share tips and just get some actual human contact in there if at all possible.
Include some kind of non-negotionable exercise
We all know exercise is good for the ol’ mental health as much as we’d rather not admit it.
Sitting is the new smoking and the chances are you’re doing a whole lot more of it from the comfort of your home. Make sure you’re taking some time to move about a bit. Getting a dog is a fun way to incorporate exercise into your routine.
If you can join a local gym or get into running that also gets you some potential chit chat with others and a way to step away from the house. Most gyms have off peak membership options too so if you have a flexible schedule, you can save some money here.
Make time for yourself
If you’re a workaholic, it’s really hard to shut off at the end of the day if you work from home. It’s important that you set aside plenty of time for yourself, your own self care, hobbies, social groups and just general chill out time. It will keep you sane.
If you don’t have established breaks, it’s easy to carry on working which isn’t healthy.
Work from a co-working space or cafe
This one, I find hard because I’m easily distracted but it’s good to do once in a while. Getting away from the home office to do some work is a good idea because it gives you a change in scenery, some fresh air and the chance to meet others.
If you don’t mind noise and like coffee, head to a cafe. If you need quiet, try a library or co-working space. It doesn’t have to be all day either. You could just spend an hour or two working on something to feel the benefit.
Find what’s best for you
Working from home and establishing a routine means you need to find what works best for you personally. It’s important that you keep an eye on your mental health, your responses to trying new things and one way you can do that is to keep a journal or mood diary.
The best thing about this lifestyle is how flexible it is. Having the freedom to control your day is such a huge benefit to your mental health. It’s now all about trying to fill in the blanks.
Anyone else work from home? How do you maintain good mental health while working from home? What advice would you give others?