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The Impact of Working from Home on Mental Health

Has working remotely taken a toll on you? Come take a look at our top tips for maximizing your health and well-being while working from home!

July 4, 2022
The Impact of Working from Home on Mental Health

Before the beginning of 2020, we all thought it unfathomable to spend our workdays in our bedrooms. Yet here we are, two years later and almost out of the pandemic, accepting it as our new normal.

Working from home is a huge adjustment to make. In fact, 45 per cent of people say that it impacts their mental health. 

Thankfully, we’ve had a ton of time over the past two years to identify how our work context can impact our mental wellbeing and ways to mitigate the negative impact:

1. Get dressed and follow a morning routine

Your attire impacts how you feel and act. Dressing for work helps you feel more focused and boost your self-esteem, even if you’re not seeing anyone else! If wearing work attire is too uncomfortable, try wearing clothes that make you feel confident.

You can also try to build a morning routine that helps you feel more prepared for the day. For example, change your clothes, make yourself a coffee and read the news before your first meeting of the day. 

2. Separate your work from home

Sometimes it feels like our work never escapes us. It’s hard to be productive during work and hard to relax after work. To create some distinction, you should set spatial boundaries.

Set aside a designated area in your home that you use strictly for work. If this isn’t possible, then try to clear your workspace once you’ve finished work, for example, put your laptop away from the dining table and move your work material out of sight. 

If possible, or in a rut, you can also choose a dedicated workspace away from home, for example, a coffee shop, library or public lounge with wifi.

3. Set boundaries

Without a physical office to set boundaries, we can feel obligated to reply to late emails, set up meetings later in the day or plan to finish up work after dinner. Not having clear boundaries can result in work consuming our lives, creating additional stress and anxiety.

Set aside specific hours of the day when you’ll be available for work. At the start of each work project, make sure you communicate these boundaries with your coworkers. Don’t feel pressured to be signed in at every minute of the day and turn off email notifications after official work hours if you’re able to.  

4. Remember to socialize

One huge con of working from home is missing out on the social experience of work. Working at home can be isolating, especially if you live alone or are new to your company. 

Take advantage of social opportunities by attending company events and scheduling coffee chats to get to know those you work with. You can also use workplace communication channels like Slack to set up informal check-ins with coworkers, just as you would in the office. 

Don’t be afraid to take leadership on social initiatives, for example, setting up a “question of the day” thread to discuss your favourite songs or food. If you are a freelance or contract worker, it can help to befriend others doing similar work through Linkedin or professional events. 

5. Schedule breaks 

Working in person, we take so many unplanned breaks, whether it be to walk to the coffee room, chat with office neighbours or even just commute back home. At home, it’s important to schedule breaks throughout your day to stretch your legs and re-energize so work doesn’t feel endless.

6. Step outside

Another effect of working from home is that you end up holed up in the same environment for hours on end. A change of scenery is important, and spending time outside has its benefits -- including less stress and anxiety

Try to make it a point to go outside at least once a day, or at the very least, every other day. You can even plan to take walks with a neighbour or family member as a way to socialize. 

7. Cut down on unhealthy screen time

Without breaks and time outside, our lives can be consumed by our screens. It’s common to work digitally, take most of our breaks on our phones or laptops and then unwind by watching a show at the end of the day. 

Schedule or set time away from the screen when you’re on your breaks, for example, go on a walk or spend time cooking a meal. Have one non-screen activity to look forward to at the end of the day, for example, a skincare routine, making tea, embroidery or reading a book. 

During the day, it can help to focus on healthier screen time by making it harder to use social media. Remove any browser shortcuts you have, turn off notifications and log out of all accounts for social media.

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