Working from home can be a difficult transition to make. We’re not quite used to being by ourselves for hours of the day or working on tasks with no interaction or conversation with anyone else.
In most working environments, you have colleagues, supervisors, or managers to offer guidance and support, but when you work from home you are left to your own devices… literally!
Can Working from Home Lead to Depression?
Yes, and no. Working from home can add stress, which can lead to depression and anxiety disorders. Social isolation can also lead to loneliness and anxiety, which are also contributing factors to depression.
While working from home can trigger feelings of depression, it may not cause it directly. The added stress, social isolation, and pressure to maintain a work/life balance can cause stress, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, eating, and difficulty focusing.
However, research shows that the effects of working from home on mental health are contradictory. For many, it is a welcome addition to their lives, and works better for them if they struggle with childcare and need a more flexible working arrangement.
How to Avoid Depression When Working from Home
Don’t Isolate Yourself
One of the main contributing factors to depression when working from home is the isolation and loneliness. You may not get the social interaction that you’re used to.
To compensate, try to have zoom calls every once in a while with colleagues to catch up, and ensure that you have a healthy social life outside of work hours.
Mix Up Your Routine
Try working from a coffee shop a few days a week, or heading to a public space where you can get WiFi for a few hours to get your work done.
It can be hard to work normally when you work from home. You may feel you haven’t earned a break if you have a flexible working schedule, or you have been distracted by responsibilities such as childcare or dog walking when you’re at home.
You still need to take breaks as you would if you were working in an office. That is your time to recharge, have lunch, take a walk, have a coffee, or have some time for yourself. It is so important that you take regular breaks throughout the day.
Go On Long Walks
Taking a brisk walk every few hours can break up the day and boost your mood. You may also bump into passers-by, which can give you more social interaction too.
Separate Home from Work
In order to avoid becoming depressed when working from home, you have to ensure there are healthy boundaries in place. This means separating your work life from your home life.
Try to pick a location where you will work every day, such as a home office or on a desk. Once you have clocked off, avoid checking your work email until you’re on the clock next.
This can help you maintain a healthy work/life balance. In addition, just because you are already at home, it doesn’t mean that you can’t take sick days. If you need a day off to support your mental or physical health, then take the day off and recuperate.
Talk to Someone
If you are struggling with working from home, be sure to reach out to someone. Speak to your manager or HR representative. Perhaps you can work out a system where you work in the office some days.
You could also confide in a friend or speak to a counselor or therapist for help and support. They can give you the resources you need to help you while working from home and help you cope with your depression.