Managing mental health and loneliness while working from home

Last week was Loneliness Awareness Week, an initiative organised by The Marmalade Trust encouraging people to open up about feeling lonely, no matter who they are. One of the main downsides of working from home is the negative effects it can have on mental health. Employees that have been working from home before the pandemic warn that one of the main disadvantages of remote working is the isolation it brings. Working without the background noise of the office (chatter, banter, complaining, other people typing away at keyboards) can cause the feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially for people that have never worked remotely before the pandemic. Here we discuss three things you can do to help feeling less lonely.

Take breaks

Sitting at a desk all day long can make working feel lonely and overwhelming. Regular breaks are important for maintaining productivity as well as mental health. The brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes at a time, so make sure to get up and take at least a 30-minute break from work.

Connect with others – online or by doing something nice for them

In times of social distancing, it is important not to feel emotionally distant and having a sense of connection with someone else is vital for overcoming feelings of loneliness. Organise a Zoom wine party, call a friend or chat to your co-workers about non-work-related matters. Send someone a kind text, encourage a friend going through difficult times, volunteer to deliver food packages, or do some online volunteering. There are so many ways to do something nice for another person and it is simultaneously beneficial for the person and for yourself.

Boost your mood

Loneliness is often associated with feelings of sadness or depression, so engaging in activities that boost the mood can be a way of combating feelings of loneliness. Research shows that music has real benefits on mental health, including, but not limited to, boosting the mood, or help to feel focused. Some people may not be able to work with music in the background but play some uplifting tunes while you take a break. And since you are not in an office you can feel free to hum or sing to the music and even get up and dance about.

Journaling is another method to boost your mood and a great way to offload negative thoughts. Writing down feelings, anxieties or upsets gets them out of the mind and helps with gaining perspective over situations. Making a habit of writing down three things to be grateful for before going to bed every day is also an effective way of maintaining a positive outlook when life feels bleak.

NOTE:

If you feel isolated, lonely and unable to cope with these feelings there is nothing to be ashamed of and there is help available. It is okay to ask for help.

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