Is Work from Home affecting Mental Health? Tips to get rid of it?

Good Karma MD Psychiatrist Dr. Ranjan GhoshInitially people were jumping for joy! No travel times! No commute! Will work and hang out with family! Well… after almost 5 months later you will hard be pressed to find someone who exclusively would love to work from home.  Even the people who love it realize the effect it has taken on the work week routine.  From the time we wake up to the time we sleep there is some modicum of work that is being undertaken without any breaks. Even the most organized people with great multitasking or scheduling ability are being inundated with increase work.  Not only that there is a big surprise as in the beginning of the lockdown the fun father who was playing has increased pressure now to compete and keep his position.  There is so much added pressure to perform.  There is no credit for just ‘showing up’ but the term ‘what have you done for the company lately’ is a constant ring in the employee’s ears.   Children and spouses are left with wondering will their loved one come out of their rooms like the beginning of lockdown.  Most often the answer is they cannot.  

In a struggle to balance family life and work life, one or the other is taking a hit. Sad thing is most often both now as people become weary mentally.

What is happening to people who are working from?

Loneliness and Isolation

This is obviously happening as we are confined, and social interactions are limited. This is leading to highest rates of depression we have seen ever in this country.  Furthermore, there is nothing to accomplish socially like the promotions etc are all done by work product.  There is no social purpose or gratification for doing well.  It becomes hard to find a sense of purpose.

Anxiety stress and pressure

The competition is getting worse as people are working all the time without breaks.  This is leading to other employees looking weak for taking timely breaks and engaging in self-care. Stress from having to do multiple rolls including technical support.

These factors lead to Major Depressive Disorder, worsening mood disorders like mania, OCD and panic attacks are we are seeing happen from the two above stressors.  This is being seen in my clinic and with mental health providers across the nation and world.  With that is the increased rates of suicide in the most extreme cases.

Tips for corporates:  

  • Employee well being should be the rule and not the exception.  To even have an employee performing at peak performance there needs to be:
  • Strict online rules and break timings should be adhered to.
  • Employees should not be made to bear the internet and workstation costs while working from home
  • For health and wellness, individual and group therapies should be provided

For you the employee:

  • Create a specific place in your home where you work (avoid your bedroom)

Studies show that working from home can interfere with sleep, especially for people who find it difficult to switch off from work. Avoid working in your bedroom if possible. It will then become associated with being alert, awake and switched on.

  • Set up routine and structure for your workday — create boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’

Set a routine as if you are going into the office, with a regular start time, and finish time, and a structure for your day, with breaks and exercise scheduled in. This will help you maintain a strong boundary between work and home life, minimise the possibility of work intruding into your family time, and help you switch off from work at the end of the day. Creating cues, such as getting changed into your work clothes at the start of the day, and out at the end, can help with this.

  • Try a digital detox in the evenings and on off times

Technology makes it easier to stay connected 24-7, but the downside is that it can make it difficult to switch off, and separate work and home life. Try a digital detox to help you switch off from work, so you can spend quality time with your family, or do the things you want to do.

  • Try and get outside at least once a day

If you’re not stuck in self-isolation, try to get outside at least once a day. Go for a walk, get some fresh air, and sunshine. If you are in isolation, go out to your garden or walk up and down your driveway or go out onto your balcony and enjoy fresh air.

Don’t forget the other helpful actions for maintaining positive mental health

These include:

  • Be Active: Exercising, getting a good night’s sleep and eating well
  • Connect: Staying connected with social supports
  • Be Aware: Managing stress through problem solving, relaxation or meditation
  • Give: Appreciating others even with a compliment helps you think in more positive ways.
  • Keep Learning:  Learn and expand on things that give you satisfaction.

(The views expressed in this article are by Dr. Ranjan Ghosh, MD Psychiatrist, Good Karma. doesn’t own any responsibility for it.)

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