Tackling the Mental Health Challenges of Working from Home

Tackling the Mental Health Challenges of Working from Home

A window into the concerns of remote workers across the world

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on a slew of challenges for the average office worker. Be it the fear of contracting COVID-19 or the pressure of keeping yourself financially afloat, the stress of it all is not lost on most people.

The National Center of Social Research interviewed 8,675 people before the pandemic, and also in May, July and November 2020, to understand how the mental health of people in the UK were affected by the pandemic. Upon comparison, researchers found that those working from home amidst the pandemic felt more lonely and were more mentally distressed.

Let us dive deeper into the factors that adversely affect the psychological well-being of remote workers and what they can do to cope with them.

Social disconnection

The first major concern that has emerged working from home is isolation. You can no longer sit and vent to your co-workers about a tough day at work. Virtual communication simply doesn’t cut it. Interactions over the internet can often eliminate major social context cues leading to misunderstandings and frustration. You might spend an entire day anxious about your supervisor pointing out a minor error in your work, when, in fact, they might have said it in an entirely well-meaning way.

To avoid feeling socially isolated, you can take initiative to interact with your co-workers over video conferencing platforms, like Zoom. These interactions can serve as avenues to boost morale and increase connectivity. It is important that these interactions should not come across as forced.

No work-life balance

As a remote worker, your workday can start to feel endless. With your bedroom being both a space to work and relax, knowing when to unplug may come as a challenge. A study conducted by the University of Southern California revealed that workers spend 1.5 hours more working at home than a physical office.

Some workers might feel the pressure to be constantly available for work. However, this 24×7 hustle runs the risk of leaving you burned out.

To avoid a burn out, you must remember the importance of taking breaks. It might seem futile to do so when you have a heavy workload, but taking breaks can improve your productivity. A break every now and then can help you come back to work with a fresh perspective, reducing the chances of mistakes.

Stuck in a rut

Another problem of working from home is the lack of a sense of accomplishment. Without verbal affirmation or a fancy corner office, you might feel like you are not making any progress in your work life. Remote work also takes away your ability to realize how important your contributions are to the organization.

A great way to get a sense of accomplishment is by incorporating exercise into your routine. Exercising can positively affect the release of endorphins, which boost your mood and relieve stress. Exercising can also help improve your sleep cycle. A good night’s sleep leaves you feeling refreshed and energized for the day ahead.

Financial hit

A lot of people’s salaries took a hit amidst the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic. According to the MagnifyMoney survey conducted in November 2020, one in three workers experienced a pay cut due to the pandemic.

The financial impact of the pandemic has also emerged as a psychological challenge to the workforce. Even those with stable jobs experienced concerns over job security. The fear of losing their jobs can make workers reluctant to ask for support. Some may even adopt unhealthy work practices to please managers and supervisors.

To avoid working yourself to death, you can adopt the practice of maintaining a schedule. A schedule can help you combat the endless workday. If your job ends at 5 PM, then you should make it a point to take a break from your devices starting then. Disconnecting will help you take out time to do other activities like making your favorite meal or spending time with your family.

You must remember that concerns, like a financial slump, are beyond your control. Thus, you should try to always be kind to yourself. A global pandemic can leave you feeling stressed and that is completely normal. However, if feelings of sadness and anxiety persist over prolonged periods, you should consider reaching out to mental health professionals for support.

Header image courtesy of Unsplash

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