Mental Health Pros and Cons of Working from Home

Actively working from home

Over this last year many people made the switch from working in the office to working from home, but is this a healthy change?

For some people working from home has been significantly better for their mental health, while for others, it may be worse. It’s likely not a fair estimate to state that solely working from home is bad for mental health, especially because the last year has been anything but typical. So, it’s likely that the combination of working from home, lack of any social interaction and immense isolation is the trifecta of poor mental health. Taking the pandemic away, however, most people say that their mental health is improved while working from home. They are able to spend more time with their family and less time on a commute to and from work fighting traffic and deadlines.

Top 3 things to be aware of when considering the benefits and drawbacks of working from home:

#1: PRO – Less time commuting means more time for yourself and with family
The one thing that we wish we had more of is time. If you work from home and establish good work and life boundaries you can easily have more built in time to spend with your family. If you aren’t battling traffic jams you may have more time to eat a good meal or even to put your kids to bed without evening chaos. Additionally, you might be able to squeeze in some extra time for exercise. Going for a walk during the day just got easier.

#2: PRO – Less stress and more self care
The amount of stress we are under due to working late, office politics and more is certainly mitigated while working from home. A less stressful work environment can create more productivity in less time. This means there is time for more self-care strategies during the work day and around the work day. Just think, you could be on a conference call while doing yoga!

#3: CON – Structure and routine can become problematic
For many people the problems with routine and structure became something that wasn’t necessarily a positive thing. Because you don’t have to wake up early or worry about hygiene or even getting out of pajamas, your sense of worth can take a toll. Some people talk about how they roll out of bed and log on to work never changing their clothes or even showering. Our brain loves knowing what comes next and thrives on routine.  Even the slightest change in our hygiene routines can often precipitate depressive thoughts and feelings.

What are some tips to help enhance your work from home experience?

Tip #1: Set apart your work space
It is imperative that your work space not stare at you every day and night. Even if you don’t have a dedicated office space, use a corner of your room and put a divider screen around your workspace when you are not working. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ is a workable statement here.

Tip #2: Create boundaries and stick to them
While working from home we have a tendency to work longer hours than when we are in the office. This is good for your business, but bad for work and life balance. Create office hours for yourself and stick to them.

Tip #3: Create a transition time
Though the traffic during commute times was terrible, the commute itself allowed us to transition between work and home. However, when you work from home, there isn’t much transition there. In order to shake off the workday a transition is important.  Perhaps it’s as simple as closing up your office and taking a few minutes to meditate or even just breathe. You can also take the dog or kids for a walk to transition away from work and back into your home life.

Source: Dr. Teralyn Sell, Psychotherapist and brain health expert

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