In order to curb the public health effects of the ongoing pandemic, one of the things most, if not all, of the governments around the world have done was to implement universal social distancing protocols. As a consequence, many companies have been left with no choice but to introduce work from home arrangements. However, even before the pandemic broke out, numerous studies had already noted that remote workers tend to be more likely to develop different mental health issues than their traditional counterparts. In fact, the 2019 State of Remote Work report found that 49% of remote workers considered wellness-related issues to be their biggest struggle. That being said, working from home in the midst of a pandemic has, therefore, dealt an obvious two-fold blow on the mental well-being of many professionals around the world. Fortunately, there are many things remote workers can do to avoid the different mental health risks that come from their current working arrangements.
Take better care of yourself
Multiple studies have shown that just like any other disease, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression are just as physiological as they are psychological. After all, poor physical health can lead to a greater risk of developing mental health issues, and poor mental health can increase the likelihood of certain physical illnesses such as coronary heart disease. It is then safe to say that one of the best ways to avoid the mental health risks of working from home is taking better care of oneself. James Gonzales, a travel enthusiast and longtime remote writer, shared that better self-care simply begins with establishing healthy sleeping habits and exercising regularly. A good night’s sleep can help you manage stress, reduce your risk of depression, ease anxiety and energize the body. A few minutes of exercise every day can likewise relieve stress, improve memory, boost your overall mood and stimulate the release of endorphin, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, which are all feel-good brain chemicals.
The biggest struggle of working from home is battling loneliness caused by isolation. With no coworkers to bond or share experiences with, in addition to limited daily interactions caused by the closure of a multitude of establishments, it’s easy to see why remote workers would feel lonely and lose some sense of belonging. Since the impact of loneliness and isolation can be twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity, it would then be in your best interest to explore the many different ways you can maintain communication with friends and family. As mentioned in our previous post ‘How to Remain Sane and Productive During the Next Few Weeks’, it would be a good idea to text and talk with others through different online platforms such as FaceTime, Skype and Zoom. To make your online interactions even more fun and exciting, you can also try incorporating classical games into it such as charades, chess or bingo, or do activities together such as watching a movie.
Create a routine
As news of social unrest, injustices, corruption, racism, unemployment and the like continues to take over the internet, it’s growing incredibly hard to not feel strongly about the current state of the world. Unfortunately, the sad reality is a lot of things are beyond our personal control, and in spite of the bad things that keep on happening all over the world, many of us have to continue working in order to provide for our families. To keep yourself from burning out and developing mental health issues during these trying times, try sticking to a schedule. As explained by Maurya Glaude, an assistant professor at Tulane University’s School of Social Work in New Orleans, creating a routine will not only help you stay on top of things but also provide you with a sense of control and normalcy. When creating a routine, make sure to include as many breaks as needed and to avoid over-scheduling. Remember to be flexible and account for moments when you have to step back and care for yourself.
by Ruthie Jewel