Do you find that recently you are drinking more coffee than usual during your workday?
If so, you could be trying to replace your motivation with caffeine.
Unfortunately, this is something that needs to change.
If you haven't been drinking more caffeine than usual, you may have picked up another habit to manage the depression you could be suffering from since starting to work from home.
With more people working from home today than ever, work from home depression is very common. If you aren't sure if you have this type of depression, take a moment and think.
Are you feeling down more often since you started working from home? Were you once the type of person who could jump right out of bed when the alarm went off, and now have trouble getting out of bed in the morning?
If you said yes to one or both of these questions, working from home could be what is causing the problem.
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Can Working From Home Really Make You Depressed?
Working from home doesn't cause everyone to feel stressed.
Some people find that they like working from home better than going in every day. However, many people have been developing some level of depression since starting to work from home.
Working from home full-time can cause a great deal of stress because you cannot separate your workspace and personal space. Also, distractions in the home can interfere with your work, making it difficult to get it done.
This can wear down your mental health.
If you live alone, you are at risk of work from home depression because not being able to go to the office and see people can make you feel isolated. The same is true if you live with people, but they go to work every day and lead busy lives. If you don't have many social interaction opportunities, it is very easy to develop work from home depression.
When working from home, two of the hardest things to deal with are isolation and loneliness. If you don't have a strong social network to help you feel connected, it is very easy to slip into depression.
If you suffered from depression before starting working from home, the change in your daily routine could be triggering your existing depression. If you never had any depression issues in the past, working from home could be the cause of your depression.
Depression vs. Sadness
Feeling sad is a normal part of life. Sadness doesn't feel good, but it is natural, and it happens to everyone at some point. It is important to understand that depression is different from sadness.
There is a great analogy to help you understand the difference between the two. Beyond Blue uses the analogy that if sadness is a cold, depression is a serious case of the flu. When you are sad, it is a response to a particular situation in your life. Depression affects every situation in your life, and it isn't caused by any particular life situation. It is just always there.
Sadness is a reaction to a certain event in your life, but depression isn't. Depression is always there, even if you do something that makes you happy, feel relaxed, or something exciting. The symptoms of depression are different from the symptoms of sadness. According to the Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of depression include:
- A lingering feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and emptiness
- Having no interest in hobbies or activities that you once enjoyed
- Trouble sleeping at night or sleeping too much.
- Sudden outbursts of anger, frustration, or consistent irritability
- Lack of energy
- Lack of willpower
- Moving and reacting slowly
- Feeling guilty or worthless.
- Dwelling over past mistakes
- Thoughts of self-harm or suicide
- Body aches and pains that you never had before, particularly back pain and headaches
It is essential that you can tell the difference between sadness and depression because the two are treated differently.
Managing sadness is much different than managing depression.
Depression is difficult to handle, but unfortunately, you aren't powerless, and you can effectively manage depression.
How To Overcome Work From Home Depression?
Depression is very serious, and it can take you down a dangerous path. If you are having trouble doing everyday tasks or if you are having suicidal thoughts, you need to seek help immediately. If your depression is this serious, lifestyle changes likely won't help. Without medical help, things might not get better, and you will need to suffer longer than you need to.
If your work from home depression hasn't gotten this bad yet, there are a few helpful tips that you can follow. There are ways to change your lifestyle, work style, and environment to overcome depression and keep it from happening again.
Create a Sense of Permanence
If you have always worked out of the home, and now you are forced to work from home, you likely created a workstation somewhere in your home. Rather than settling with a makeshift workstation, you should create a space that feels permanent.
When you set up a permanent space, you will have a solid boundary between your work area and your personal area. This should provide more stability. Also, creating a work-like environment will help you feel like you are working and that you are getting something accomplished.
If your current workstation is at the kitchen table or if you are sharing your work area with the rest of the family, you won't feel stable. Rather than setting up a temporary workstation, you should find a place to call your own that you can arrange like your dedicated workstation in the office.
When setting up your dedicated workstation, try to make it away from any household distractions. It should feel more like a workspace than a family gathering area. Also, don't use your workstation for anything but work.
This will give you a sense of going to work each day rather than feeling like you are having a day with the family. A dedicated workspace will give you the feeling of stability that you need to overcome your work from home depression.
Embracing the Quietness
There are two different types of quietness. There is mental quietness, an actual quietness.
Mental noise is the inner monologue that goes on inside your head. Mental quietness is an inner monologue that is controlled and focused. This will allow you to remain centered and replace the noise with a more focused and balanced mental state.
The best way to achieve mental quietness is medication. It can help manage depression and anxiety. If you start meditating regularly, you can train your brain to handle stress and reduce your depression triggers. It can also help you stop focusing on the negative.
External noise is different from mental noise. Although the two are different, you need to learn to block out unwanted external noise.
Studies have shown that distracting white noise and noise annoyance can increase your anxiety and depression. If you are trying to focus in a loud area or even in your home with a lot of white noise, it can have a negative impact on your mental health.
Fortunately, there are ways to reduce distracting noise. You can wear earplugs or noise canceling headphones, which is the easiest way to block it out. If the noise isn't too loud, you can use controlled white noise to block it out. A white noise generator works. You can also play your own music or use the sound of a fan.
If you have a dedicated workspace and some money in your budget, you can soundproof the room using insulation around the doors and windows. If you don't have the extra money for soundproofing, put something on the floor to block out the sound coming from under the door.
Mental and external quietness can help you a lot. When you have a quiet place to escape, you will have a sense of calm. It will give you a better sense of balance when your work feels the most challenging.
Lean On Other People
If you are suffering from work from home depression, you need to talk to other people. When you have support from a loved one, it can work wonders. According to HelpGuide, there are a few effective ways to reach out for support.
- Choose a good listener to talk to, not a fixer.
- Talk about your issues face to face rather than on the phone or through text.
- Try to help others, even if it is something simple.
- Spend time caring for your pet
- Join a depression support group
- Attend social events whenever possible, but continue following the suggested guidelines
- Ask a loved one to check in with you regularly.
- Talk to a few different people rather than just one person.
One of the hardest things about depression is your desire to isolate yourself and ignore other people.
If you can find the right people to talk to, it will help you manage your depression much better.
When you create meaningful connections, it will be easier to manage your depression.
Break Away From Unrealistic Expectations
Just because you have more free time doesn't mean that you need to be constantly busy.
Many people believe that working from home will make you more productive since there is no commute to and from work and no time-wasting meetings.
This really isn't the case. Nobody can be productive 100 percent of the time. Sure, these time wasters are avoided, but you can't expect to replace all of your time saved with work.
Your mind and body have a limited capacity. If you are constantly trying to overexert yourself, you can become burnt out, which will trigger your depression.
Hard work is essential for success. If you want to be successful, you need to work hard. However, while it is necessary to dig deep from time to time, you cannot live forever with that level of effort.
You need to be able to understand your limits and yourself. If you optimize your productivity, you can get more done in less time. The best way to do this is to work at it slowly. You can build yourself up gradually, which will make working from home easier.
If you let go of your unrealistic high expectations, you can get more done in the moment, rather than focusing on the things that you aren't able to do.
Preventing depression is much easier than curing depression.
If you are worried about slipping into work from home depression or starting to see the signs, there are changes that can be made now to keep things from getting worse.
Start a realistic and sustainable routine
This is something that you may have heard a lot about, and you need to take it seriously.
Your workday routine is essential to your mental health. If you can find a balanced daily routine that includes daily hygiene, diet, and exercise, you will feel less stressed.
A dedicated routine will prevent you from needing to make more decisions, which will prevent decision fatigue.
Creating a sustainable routine will help, and it's easier to create one than you might think. When you have the time to regularly care for yourself mentally and physically, it will make you stronger and happier.
Create a work schedule
You need to create work boundaries.
It would help if you found a time each day to start work and then a set time to clock out.
If it is outside working hours, don't do any work at all. If a coworker calls you regarding a work-related issue or a client calls, tell them you will call back in the morning during your set business hours.
It would be best if you also were a bit flexible. Rather than saying your work hours are 9 am to 5 pm, say you start at 9 to 9:30 am and end at 5 to 5:30 pm. This will give you a bit more time to get ready for the workday and to finish things up at the end of the day.
You can make the occasional exception, but don't do it often.
If you start working during your off time, you will do it more and more until it becomes normal, which will cause you to take on too much work.
Take regular breaks
When you are at the office, you get a morning break, a lunch break, and an afternoon break.
Just because you are working from home, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't take breaks. Breaks are essential for your well being.
You can only concentrate for so long before you need to rest.
When working from home, try to stick to the same break schedule you had when working in the office. Regular breaks will keep you on your game while helping to prevent work from home depression.
Seek out social interaction and connection
The biggest trigger for work from home depression is isolation.
At the office, you are around coworkers and friends every day. When you are at home, you won't have these people, so you need to seek out social interaction on your own. Try a virtual team building event with your work team so you can interact with each other in a fun and casual setting.
You can meet a friend for lunch, take a walk in the park or, if possible, work outside of the home once a week.
It is essential that you understand that social media is not a form of social interaction.
Face-to-face personal connection is best for your mental health.
Remember to move
A side effect of working from home is a sedentary lifestyle.
When you work from home, you aren't going to be moving very often during your workday.
It is essential that you start a regular exercise routine, maintain a good posture, and get up often during the day to stretch.
If you don't do this purposely, you might not do it at all.
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Working from home can be a nice change. You will be able to avoid the stressful traffic during your morning and afternoon commute, and you have more flexibility in how, when, and where you work.
If you are going to be happy working from home, you need to follow the tips listed above.
These tips will prevent work from home depression, and you will feel better.
About the Contributor
Veselin Mladenov is the Content Manager of ThriveMyWay. He has more than 10 years of experience in the field of corporate marketing and sales, and decided to pursue his passion - digital marketing and content creation.
LinkedIn: Veselin Mladenov