Since the pandemic, the number of remote workers has skyrocketed. Unfortunately, this new landscape for employees has spurred more concerns about mental health. People who work from home can face negative repercussions for their mental health due to social isolation, added stress and more. Take a closer look at why remote work can be hard on your mental health and how to mitigate those risks.
The Downfalls of Remote Work in Terms of Mental Health
Many mental health and substance abuse treatment facilities have witnessed an uptick in the number of remote workers seeking treatment in the last few years. Research indicates that remote work can come with a higher likelihood of mental health issues than working in person. Specifically, rates of depression and anxiety are higher, and working remotely is linked to a higher risk of substance use disorder. Further, the number of remote workers who struggle with their mental health has been on the rise in the last few years. This indicates that working remotely may come along with mental health challenges for some individuals.
Why Remote Work Can Be Emotionally Challenging
Numerous factors could play a role in why remote work may be taxing on mental health. From social isolation to heightened issues with burnout, take a look at a few reasons remote work can be hard on your mental health.
Isolation From Others
Working from home often means going for days without interacting with much of anyone. No coworkers to chat with, vent to and glean encouragement from can be difficult. Around three out of four remote workers feel isolated from others, which can take a toll on your mental health. Social interaction is important to mental well-being for many reasons, and feeling lonely can increase the risks of anxiety, depression and even somatic disorders.
Poor Work-Life Balance
When work happens at home, the lines between work and life blur. Some remote workers spend far more time on the job than in-house employees. Whether it is because they feel the need to constantly respond to emails and answer calls or have a difficult time “punching out” for the day because work is so accessible, this often leads to a hectic schedule and very little downtime.
Fatigue and Burnout
When work-life boundaries are blurred and the normal routine means logging far more on-the-job hours, fatigue and burnout are a real possibility. Remote workers commonly don’t take enough recovery time, which can stoke feelings of discontent with life or overwhelming anxiety. In worst-case scenarios, burnout can even lead to depression.
Remote Work Stress
Being a remote worker can involve higher stress levels for many. Workers often have to step into more roles, such as doing their own troubleshooting connectivity issues or dealing with invoicing and managing time. Further, those working at home can deal with stress from ongoing interruptions, lack of home office space and problems such as having to work in a messy house or noisy environment.
How to Support Your Mental Health as a Remote Worker
For remote workers, paying careful attention to mental health may be even more important than usual. Be proactive about supporting your emotional well-being as a remote worker by:
- Create a work schedule and avoid the urge to overwork
- Set aside a dedicated, comfortable workspace in your home
- Incorporate exercise and movement into the day
- Go to coworking spaces or other public places to work occasionally
- Make time in your schedule to connect with others
- Protect your work-life boundaries by saying no when you need to
Make Your Mental Health a Priority as a Remote Worker
There are undeniable benefits of working from home, such as flexible scheduling and no commute. Despite the benefits, working remotely can have negative consequences for mental health. If you are working from home and dealing with symptoms of depression or anxiety, be sure to reach out to a professional for advice.