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When you first started working from home, you probably thought of this new arrangement as a temporary adjustment that would last only months.
You might have had some mixed feelings at first, but you also saw all the benefits of avoiding the daily drive to the office and having more flexibility in terms of your schedule.
If you had to deal with office drama or any dreaded interactions with co-workers, supervisors, or the public, you were almost entirely able to avoid that, too. Human contact was reduced to phone calls, texts, emails, or maybe the occasional Zoom meeting.
As the months passed, and as we approach the one-year mark of the onset of the pandemic, the novelty of remote working might have started to fade.
Long hours at home can lead to isolation, loneliness, boredom, and a feeling of detachment from the outside world.
This combination of factors, in addition to other stressors associated with this nearly year-long pandemic, can certainly lead to increased anxiety.
Coping often involves making some purposeful adjustments to the way you live and work—at home.
I’ll discuss some important coping methods below. It might not be enough to simply switch over to this new lifestyle without implementing important strategies to ensure that your mental health is at its utmost functioning and your quality of life remains healthy.
Create a clear separation between work-life and home-life.
You can apply this strategy whether you have the space at home or not. This clear separation means that you conduct work activities in a specific area in your home—an area where you do not engage in leisure time, relaxation, or family time.
Consider having a desk or table in one specific spot in your home so when you’re done with your work day, you get up from that area and you don’t return to it until the following morning.
This is critical for your emotional health
It’s critical for your emotional health to punch in and punch out when working from home—even if you only do so symbolically by leaving your desk or clearing the table and putting all work materials away and out of sight. Without this important step, anxiety can certainly build up because there could essentially be no end to your workday.
Set a schedule—and stick to it.
This coping strategy goes hand-in-hand with separating work- and home-life only this tip involves the timing of your work.
For many people, one of the great benefits of working from home is that you can take time off at any moment throughout your day to tend to personal matters, make yourself some lunch, or take a midday nap.
However, this perk can also be one of the downsides of working from home that can lead you into a cycle of endless anxiety.
If, let’s say, you get distracted all morning and you don’t get any work done, you might be forced into spending long hours working and catching up in the evening (or into the night), when you’re less mentally alert and efficient.
You have to completely disconnect
Setting a schedule is also critical so you avoid working all day and night—literally.
Your laptop, smart phone, or other devices are always just an arm-reach or room away when you’re working from home, which could make it difficult to completely disconnect yourself and stop working.
Complete disconnection from work is essential for keeping anxiety levels down and your emotional health in a good place.
Step away from your desk/computer/electronics.
You might be noticing a work-life balance theme here since this coping method also has to do with creating a clear separation between work and personal life.
Your physical environment and your schedule are two key ways to achieve this balance, but then there is you—your own behaviors and your ability to put down, and step away from, anything and everything that connects you to work.
Commit to doing this one thing
This mostly involves a mindset shift and an understanding that you’ll always be able to do more, work more, or answer one more email, but your emotional health is more important. Commit to stepping away from work at a specific time and dedicating some quality time to yourself.
Working from home can truly show you that there is no ideal situation, lifestyle, job, or circumstances that will eliminate your stress and anxiety.
Indeed, anxiety has a way of following you wherever you go—or don’t go—whether you’re dealing with the many dynamics at the office or you’re mostly by yourself, working independently from the comfort of your own home.
Your anxiety triggers may change, but the worry, fear, and tension are sure to return unless you make some determined changes to your environment, your mindset, and your behaviors.
Challenge yourself to take control of your anxiety—and of your life—by devoting yourself to taking these important steps towards greater self-care.