Is working from home affecting your mental health?

working from home

Are you working from home?

You’re not alone, 1.54 million people in the UK now work from home.

That’s over 800,000 more than a decade ago. As with everything new, it’s hard to see the effects until later down the line. So is working from home affecting your mental health? 

According to the State of Remote Work report, working from home may negatively affect wellness.

49% of those surveyed said they most struggle with wellness-related aspects. 

This includes 22% saying they are unable to “unplug” after they finish working, 

19% reported feelings of loneliness

8% struggled with motivation.   

It’s no wonder the number of people working from home has rocketed over the last 10 years with the rise of the freelance economy and employers choosing to let their employees work from home to avoid the morning commute.

But is it a good thing for you?

A typical home workers day?

If you’re anything like other self employed people I speak to your day goes a little like this:

  • Wake up & check your emails in bed
  • Get up, make a coffee
  • Check your social media profiles
  • Check your emails
  • Sit at your desk/on the sofa with your laptop all day
  • Have lunch at your desk (even though the kitchen is in the same room!)
  • Check emails, check emails, check emails
  • Finish for the day and move 6ft to the place where you relax

How is working from home affecting our health?

The effect of working from home isn’t just mental. Your physical health is also being affected. If you’re not sitting in an ergonomic office chair then the chances are your posture isn’t right and it’s going to lead to back issues years down the line.

If you’re sat inside the house all day the chances of catching the sun are pretty slim, so you’re missing out on Vitamin D from the sun which has all sorts of health benefits from stronger bones to reducing depression. Not bad for a bit of time in the sun.

But perhaps the biggest effect is on our mental health.

There are ways our mental health is affected by working from home:

  • The lack of socialising and constant alone time can lead to loneliness. Something which often leads to depression. 
  • We have to manage our own time, self management can mean we either set ourselves too much or too little work. When we don’t achieve our task list, we feel downbeat. When we feel like we haven’t achieved anything during the working day we feel like we’ve failed.
  • Feeling cut off from your colleagues can often feel like you’re alone and struggling on with work without much support.

Ways to improve mental health when working from home

It’s not all doom and gloom.

Whilst working from home is taking its toll on lots of people, you can do things to improve your mental health:

  1. Routine: it’s tempting to work when you feel like working and fit your work around the rest of your life. But in reality, it can lead to procrastination and a lack of sense of achievement. Having set work hours adds structure to your daily work life and allows for distinction between work and home life.
  2. Fitness: I’m a bit biased here being a personal trainer but I’ve seen the difference fitness can have on home workers lives. Getting the blood flowing and seeing fat loss or muscle gain can have a positive impact on your mental health. Schedule a home workout into your daily work routine.
  3. Plants: Studies have proven that indoor plants improve concentration and productivity (by up to 15 percent!), reduce stress levels and boost your mood. Not bad for a small investment in some house plants. 
  4. Getting out for a walk: Many of the great thinkers of our times are known to have built walks into their days to help with creativity. Scheduling a time to get out of the house every day and sticking to it is a great way to get some Vitamin D. Visiting the local park or cafe is a good idea if you’re struggling with being on your own all day.
  5. Home office area: Having a specific area for work can reduce stress by separating work and home life. At the end of the day you can shut the door and forget about work. Easier said than done but having a separate work area helps you relax when you’re in the rest of the house.

With some small changes and more structure to your day it is possible to be happy working from home and hopefully some of the tips here are things you can start implementing in your working day.

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