Home Health A-Z Work from Home and Mental Health

Work from Home and Mental Health

Verified By Dr Satyabrata Dash June 21, 2021 2390 0

Work from home has become a usual setting for most of us in these unprecedented times, as most companies have adopted remote workspaces. 

While work from home may have come as welcome relief for people with mood disorders or anxiety who no longer have to withstand loud noises, overzealous colleagues, distractions and pressure to appear normal, a significant group of remote workers reported depression and loneliness.    

Apart from having a staggering impact on their physical and mental wellbeing, work from home has also taken away a large portion of their day-to-day human interactions. And for people who thrive in social settings, work from home has meant a bigger blow than they could imagine. 

Work from home fatigue is real. Most people believe that working with co-employees boosts their confidence and has a better impact on their performance. With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, this has meant more and more people withdrawing themselves into a shell and succumbing to mental health issues.

How Does Mental Health Correlate With Remote Working?

Surveys reveal that mental and physical health impacts individuals who are working from home in the following ways:

  • Overall, 45% of employees working from home have observed no distress, while 29% of the remote workers experienced anxiety and stress-related issues. 
  • While the top reason for their mental health disturbances is that they have  no interaction with colleagues, musculoskeletal problems, sleep disorders, and a lack of respect for an employee’s privacy have also featured among the top reasons.
  • Nearly 50% of employees who do not have a workspace working from a sofa or bedroom had musculoskeletal issues. 
  • A high proportion of young people living alone have reported a negative impact on their mental health. 

What Are the Psychological Effects of Working from Home?

According to the survey, most of the common issues experienced by employees working from home are:

  1. Loneliness and Isolation

While there are associated benefits of working from home, it seems like it is not quite advisable for extended periods. Isolation and alienation are now increasingly common among employees, especially those who are socially more comfortable with their coworkers. This disconnect from the office space and colleagues makes work from home complex and brings an isolated environment.

  1. Anxiety, Stress, and Pressure

While working from home, anxiety shows its ugly head in different ways: employees often feel pressured about working 24/7. According to the survey reports, employees work for longer hours than they used to work from the office. 

As the extended hours shred the time for extracurricular activities, they feel burned out. 

To use work from home time productively, developing time management skills is of utmost importance. 

  1. Depression

The anxiety, stress, and loneliness of remote working can lead to depression or, worse, deteriorate a pre-existing condition. Some symptoms include:

  • Irritability and frustration for even minor matters
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Trouble thinking, concentrating.
  • Physical problems like back pain and headache
  • Lack of strength and increased cravings for food 

How to Take Care of Your Mental Health While Working from Home?

Taking care of your mental health is essential, apart from focusing on physical exercises and eating healthy and nutritious food. You can quickly develop a positive mindset while working at home with a few adjustments.

  1. Build a set of healthy habits 

Although most of the work-from-home employees say that the best part of their remote work is  a flexible schedule, how you organize the time in your day makes all the difference. Organizing your tasks and making a plan for the day helps you mentally prepare yourself and facilitates your work. Schedule analog breaks, keep your digital screens away when you’re off to sleep and make sure your body is adequately rested. Focus on personal care, and try different hobbies between the intervals. 

  1. Section Out Your Home Office

Having a dedicated workspace is essential as it provides comfort, increases your productivity, and avoids muscular problems. Here’s what you can do:

  • A Wide Desk: It supports your wrists, hands, and elbows and protects you against carpal tunnel syndrome. Get a wireless mouse and keyboard for the ultimate tether-free work life.
  • Comfortable Ergonomic chair: Working for long hours requires an adjustable chair that supports your back, neck, and spine. Having a solid lumbar support pad on the curve of the lower back of the chair decreases pressure on the back, and you risk fewer chances of muscle pain.
  1. Physical Exercises

Your physical health impacts your mental wellness as well. Going for a walk, yoga, or any exercise will help you deal with the condition. Exercising for about 20 to 30 minutes a day can substantially reduce your anxiety levels. It will also boost and secrete happy hormones in the brain. Besides, working out distracts your brain from work issues. 

  1. Meal prepping

Preparing meals before stepping into your work makes it much easier to eat better and save time during the workday. According to scientific studies, your diet plays a significant role in mental health. If you do not plan it out beforehand, you can end up eating unhealthy snacks and processed foods. 

  1. Take Breaks to Avoid Burnout.

The only solution to avoid burnout is to take minor breaks between work. While most of you think of taking a break after completing the task, taking breaks will decrease the negative impact on mental wellness, reduce the chance of burnout, and improve productivity. 

How Can I Relieve Mental Health Issues?

If your mental issues persist even after changing your routine, seek medical attention. Consult a psychiatrist near you or get an appointment with a doctor who offers virtual visits. Although the doctors personalize the treatment depending on your health condition, they may prescribe antidepressants and antipsychotics for reducing stress and anxiety.

Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment

What Can Organizations Do to Support Their Employees?

As many employees work remotely, an organization’s most crucial task is supporting and regularly interacting with office members.

  1. Show compassion

The managers and HR of their respective departments must communicate with your staff to discuss anxieties or problems and encourage them to take some time for themselves. If you observe any changes in your team member’s behavior and the quality of the work they are producing, it may signify a struggling person.

  1. Stay connected with virtual meeting tools.

Conduct weekly virtual meetings to check how the employee performance is, and you can also conduct virtual tea meetings or other cultural events. 

  1. Encourage skill training

To distract the employees from other issues, you can encourage them to improve their skills with online training. You can speak with the employees about their future opportunities at the workplace and how these skills will benefit them in the future. Also, try and find out if they’re facing any financial difficulties and see if the organization has any plans to support the problem. 

Where to Get Mental Health Support While Working from Home?

While struggling with any problem at work is troublesome, you don’t have to stay in that space. It is natural to feel negative emotions such as stress, anxiety, and sadness while facing this exceptional situation. Here are some things you can do to help with your mental health:

  • You can look for online resources on mental health by CDC or WHO when working from home.
  • You can look for relaxation and meditation apps to bolster yourself.
  • Try virtual counselling with therapists and psychologists.
Verified By Dr Satyabrata Dash
M.D(Psychiatry), Senior Consultant - Psychiatry, Apollo Hospitals Bhubanswar

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