It is easy to get carried away with the responsibilities of work and household and ignore the psychological effects of working from home. A lot of people are forced to work from home because of the pandemic. It has been a period where everyone has adapted according to their circumstances. However, while the world goes through this phase it is important to keep an eye out for the important factors.
In the last few years, the world has learned about the struggles of people with mental health. One common symptom of mental illness is that these develop slowly and can be fatal. Most people who suffer are not even able to articulate their condition to their loved ones until its too late. ‘Stress’ is the trigger for all mental illnesses. Therefore, we should always be mindful of our environments to identify the causes of long term stress and avoid them.
The pandemic has raised the default level of stress for everyone. Entire populations of countries are on edge, with concerns, primarily related to health and job security. And rightly so. These factors are the foundation of stability in anyone’s life. Therefore, it is important to manage this stress constructively. The alternative could be devastating to our mental health. In order to address such issues, the first step is to understand the impact of poor mental. Some of the common psychological effects of working from home are listed below:
Working from home can lead to Loneliness and Isolation
One of the first psychological effects of working from home is loneliness and isolation. When we work from home, we can get cut off from other people. It is very easy to get caught with household chores and office responsibilities and neglect the rest of the world. Over time, this pattern would lead to feelings of loneliness and work from home isolation. It is only human to have such feelings. After all, human beings have evolved to be social animals and there is an evolutionary drive to seek companionship. Therefore, it is unhealthy to be isolated and feeling lonely for long periods of time.
Anxiety, Pressure, and the resulting Stress
Working from home forces us to wear multiple hats. Whether single or married, both scenarios have their respective challenges. People end up managing responsibilities both at home and office. Such an overlap of roles is very overwhelming for most people.
Over time, this pattern causes anxiety and pressure. After all, we are wired to expect a certain level of output for efforts. When we fail to deliver on our own expectations, it ends up being demotivating. This buildup of negative reinforcement creates pressure to perform harder, creating a vicious loop of demotivation. Let’s face it, it is not possible to multitask across different areas of one’s life. Therefore, we should identify such behavior to avoid the buildup of anxiety and pressure to avoid getting stressed out.
Depression – The most dangerous psychological effect of working from home
This stage is the result of not paying timely attention to the psychological symptoms of mental health. Some of the symptoms of a person in depression are:
- Long-lasting irritability.
- Extremely high and low moods
- Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety.
- Social withdrawal.
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits.
Such symptoms are a direct result of the neglect of mental health. These behaviors generally develop very early as people work from home, especially in the current background COVID – 19. These symptoms lead to depression if unattended over time. This is true for any ailment. Such conditions should be nipped in the bud itself. Another way to look at this problem is that we should always try to be comfortable and happy in any situation. Sure, some situations are difficult but we must always be positive.
There are some actions that should be taken to maintain mental health and address the psychological effects of working from home. Some of these are listed below.
1. Create and follow a Schedule
The world’s workforce has moved to a work from home model. The chaos of random personal catch-up sessions is replaced by scheduled meetings. People are using calendar tools more effectively. This workflow is more organized because it clearly defining activities for the day. You can follow some of the below steps to streamline your day.
- Firstly, create a list of all open items you need to attend in the day.
- Secondly, block your calendar for all activities. This should help in identifying the tasks that can be completed within the available time.
- Make sure to split the time for household chores and workplace tasks. Ensure that the times do not overlap.
- Assign buffer time for all activities. People get overwhelmed with back to back meetings. Avoid such scenarios.
2. Design a comfortable ‘work from home’ office
A comfortable workspace is critical. This impacts physical and mental health. For example, an ergonomic chair is good for the posture. A good location helps the mood and mental state. Avoid sitting in dull and poorly lit areas of the home. Arrange for good lighting. Choose equipment to aid your productivity. Remove all frustrating elements out of your working space. Listed below are important points to consider while designing your workspace at home.
- Choose a well-lit spot in the house.
- Select the most comfortable chair within your budget. This is important for your posture.
- Get the most suitable table for your requirement.
- Invest in the right gear. For example, choose the computer system that fits your requirements
- Finally, decide a budget and find the best equipment to be comfortable as you work.
3. Move – Squeeze in time for some Exercise
Good mental health depends directly on physical well being. Therefore, it is important to get some exercise during the day. Block some time on the calendar to exercise daily for 30-45 mins. A daily 30-minute run has great health benefits. A half-hour session of exercise helps reduce stress greatly. Clearly, this has a positive impact on mental health. Listed below are some exercises we can do at home.
- Half-hour meditation sessions
- Stretching routines like ‘Surya Namaskar’
- Attend ‘Yoga’ classes online. There are many services offering such sessions.
- Sign up for online sessions for pilates, HIIT, Body Balance, etc.
- Weight training at home. Regularly perform basic weight training exercises.
4. Be one with Nature – Plan some outdoor time
We all feel great when we take a walk in the park after a long day. Working from home frees up the travel time for the workforce. People should take advantage of this fact. Folks should spend some time to take a walk outside. In today’s time, it is difficult to go on nature hikes because of the pandemic. However, people should go to the local parks to get some fresh air. People underestimate the health benefits of spending time outdoors. We are listing some outdoor activities for your consideration.
- Firstly, you can attend some ‘Yoga sessions‘ in the nearby park.
- Take a 30-minute run/jog around the block.
- Walk for an hour or try to complete 10,000 steps daily. After all, this is a very simple effort to stay active.
- Also, you can try to meditate in public parks.
- Try the jungle gym in the parks and relive your childhood.
5. Try to spend time or work with like-minded people
Human beings are social beings. That is to say, we perform at our best when we are socially comfortable. This state is achievable if we spend more time with people we like. Even spending time with like-minded people, helps to boost morale and overall productivity. These tips are particularly useful for freelancers. Such people should try and collaborate with like-minded people to be more productive by exchanging ideas. This is helpful at multiple levels. Here are some tips to collaborate with others during this lockdown.
- Reach out to people in your domain on portals like ‘Linkedin’.
- Search or place ads on job portals.
- Also, you can network with people in the coworking spaces such as we work.
6. “No.” is a complete sentence
Finally, we bring your attention to the most underrated truth of our times. ‘No.’ is a complete sentence. All kidding aside, this is an extremely important notion. This indicates, how we need to set up boundaries for ourselves and prioritize our activities in a working day. Most people are not able to clearly define the priorities for all activities on a workday. This leads to unnecessary stress. This can be mentally taxing over a period of time. Therefore, we need to learn the art of negotiating the priorities of tasks that we want to take up during our day. Whether, household or workplace, these boundaries need to be clearly defined. People may consider this rude behavior. However, it must be politely communicated so as to manage expectations in every aspect of our lives as we work from home.
In conclusion, the world is coping with the challenges it faces. All of us have to play our part in these trying times. We must be productive at work and also take care of our families. At the end of it all, we must come out stronger on the other side. Hopefully, the above tips and suggestions will help you to identify the various symptoms of the psychological effects of working from home and you are able to turn it around and take advantage of this opportunity.