Is Working from Home Impacting Your Mental Health?

Published on: January 25, 2021 

Are you getting tired of conducting virtual meetings and missing the in-person contact we used to have before the pandemic? If so, you’re not alone; this has now become the new normal around the world. Employees are spending more time in front of their computer screens than ever before.

You might be one of the many homebound workers caged in your apartment, glued to your computer with your headset on while training, presenting or explaining a project to another four to five colleagues in a similar situation. Meanwhile, if you’re a parent, you have the added burden of supervising your kids and trying to keep them on track while schooling from home.

On top of that, you’re no longer visiting your friends and family as you did before the pandemic. Celebrating virtual birthdays and family gatherings may provide a temporary happiness but it’s often accompanied by the frustration of not being able to visit them in person. Lack of exercise and sleep and unhealthy eating habits may be adding to the problem.

Anxiety and Depressive Disorders Increasing

With all of these limitations to our physical, mental and social environments, it’s easy for anxiety and depression to get a grip on our lives. And, in fact, that is what’s happening at an alarming rate. According to the Household Pulse Survey, conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics and Census Bureau, 30 percent of Americans surveyed in December 2020 reported symptoms of depressive disorder while 37 percent reported symptoms of anxiety disorder. Floridians largely reflected these numbers, with 28 percent reporting symptoms of depression and 38 percent reporting feelings of anxiety. These numbers are approximately four times the levels reported in 2019.

Mental Health Tips for Working from Home

Fortunately, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel as the COVID-19 vaccine rolls out. Yet many of us will continue working from home for some time or even permanently. If you’re among the work-from-home crowd, here are some actions you can take to support your mental health:

  • Maintain a regular schedule for you and each family member to work and learn from home. Set boundaries for your work schedule so that you have time for yourself and your family too.
  • Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes. Take a walk, hop on your bike, or take a virtual gym class. The important thing is to include it in your daily schedule and stick to it religiously.  When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious.
  • Maintain hygiene and cleanliness around your house or apartment. Keeping clutter to a minimum will help you feel less stressed and more in control. Studies show that being around clutter and disorganization makes it harder for your brain to focus and remember things.
  • Avoid too much exposure to the news and social media that may elevate your stress and anxiety.
  • Add some plants to your open space. Studies show that being around plants helps people feel more calm and relaxed, helps improve concentration and attention span, and increases creativity and productivity. Spending time at a park surrounded by greenery will give you similar benefits.
  • Listen to calm music and allow for 20 minutes of meditation or breathing exercises daily. You might also enjoy journaling, reading, cooking with new recipes, or another creative activity that appeals to you.

If you’re finding it difficult to feel mentally balanced and stable, be aware of the signs of depression. These include a loss of interest in daily activities, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, anger or irritability, sleep changes (insomnia or over-sleeping), concentration problems, and weight loss or weight gain. (Learn more about depressive disorders and anxiety disorders in our Mental Health Library.)

Remember, professional help is available if you need it. Harmony United Psychiatric Care has a large team of licensed therapists experienced in treating anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Our Telepsychiatry service makes it easy for you to get help from the comfort and privacy of your home. We’ll get you scheduled quickly so you can start feeling better soon. To schedule an appointment, visit our Book Appointment page.

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