Remote work has been on the rise for years, but it skyrocketed out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many people have recognized the benefits of remote work, including greater flexibility and a better work-life balance.
However, there are some potential drawbacks to working from home. It can be isolating, and if you don’t prioritize and organize things the right way, it could actually negatively impact your work-life balance.
This means it’s crucial to prioritize your mental health when you work from home. Doing so will allow you to enjoy the flexibility remote work has to offer while minimizing its negative impacts. Here are some common challenges you may face, as well as what you can do to combat them.
The Mental Health “Cons” of Remote Work
Working from home can be nice, but it can also make you feel isolated and lonely. Though loneliness is not a mental health condition in and of itself, when left unchecked, it can contribute to health issues such as depression and increased stress.
Another common problem is a lack of motivation and productivity. Far too often, remote workers fall into the habit of working whenever and wherever they want instead of following a routine — which may sound good, at least initially. However, if you choose to sleep in every day or watch television for several hours before getting to work, you’re going to end up with odd working hours, causing a negative shift in your work-life balance.
Luckily, there are ways to combat these issues and even prevent them from affecting your mental health. For starters, lean on your support system as much as possible. If you’re trying to avoid the effects of isolation, make a point to stay connected with the people you care about. Talk on the phone, connect via video calls, and prioritize getting together with family and friends a few times a week, even if it’s just for a cup of coffee.
It can also help to have a four-legged friend by your side when you’re working. Pets can be beneficial for your health and make your time at home more enjoyable. They can reduce stress, create more social opportunities, and improve your mood. Not only will they help with loneliness, but they can encourage you to stay active and take better care of yourself.
Speaking of taking care of yourself, practicing self-care every day is a great way to boost your mental well-being at home. Self-care looks different for everyone, but it’s about doing something each day that reduces your stress and improves your well-being. For you, it might include things like cooking healthy meals, exercising regularly, spending time outdoors, or enjoying your favorite hobby.
Practicing self-care doesn’t have to result in significant changes to your lifestyle or work day. It can be hard to get started, especially if you feel down or isolated. Instead, start small. For example, if you love having a decadent coffee in the morning before starting work, you don’t have to switch to tea for the sake of your health. Instead, look for ways to make a healthier cup of coffee so you can continue your self-care ritual and help improve your energy levels and mood. You can work to make bigger changes from there.
Self-care can also include setting up a daily routine or schedule for yourself. Since one of the potential risks of working from home is an unhealthy work-life balance, you can combat that by prioritizing routines. Try waking up at the same time each day, working the same hours, and going to sleep at the same time each night. Doing so will give you more time to do things you enjoy and the free time to stay connected with friends and family. It will also reduce your risk of burnout, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by your career.
Your environment can have a major impact on your mental well-being. Having a designated office space at home will make a big difference in your productivity and how you feel each day.
However, even with the ideal office space, it’s not uncommon to get “bored” with your surroundings, leading to a lack of productivity and motivation. You might also start to feel stressed or overwhelmed looking at the same small office space each day.
Thankfully, the beauty of remote work is that it can be done from anywhere. Head to your favorite local coffee shop, the library, or even a quiet park to get some work done. Changing your scenery can have a positive impact on your mood and help you to recognize the flexibility you can enjoy by working remotely.
It’s easy to assume that working from home is easy, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. While there are plenty of benefits to remote work, it’s important not to overlook some of the risks, especially when it comes to your mental health. Keep these ideas in mind to better understand those risks and how to combat them effectively. Not only can you enjoy a successful career while working from home, but you can enjoy the freedom it provides if you’re willing to prioritize what’s important.