Feeling lonely and depressed when working from home is normal, but we can’t let it become the norm. It’s not something you should just accept as a reasonable trade-off for losing the commute. It’s a problem–and it can be solved. Here’s how.
#1 Stick to a routine
You may not miss being forced to follow a routine at the office, but a total lack of routine can be just as bad–especially when it leads to work time eating into personal time. Make sure you schedule daily and weekly time off, plan your workload and try to follow a regular sleep schedule.
#2 Give yourself a break
You may not have realised how many unofficial breaks were built into a normal day at the office until it was just you and your computer. Don’t let mental exhaustion eat into your productivity–try using a pomodoro timer and see how much more you get done.
#3 Get some sunlight
Yes, it’s a cliche, but we tell people who seem overwrought to go outside and touch grass for a reason. Sunlight provides your brain with the happiness chemical serotonin, so at least 15 minutes of sunlight a day is vital for mental health.
#4 Stay physically active
While commuting isn’t exercise in the traditional sense, ditching the commute tends to be bad for your step count, and hence your physical and mental health. Getting regular exercise releases endorphins that boost your mood and help fight anxiety and depression.
#5 Minimise screen time
Too much screen time makes depression worse–and depression can make it hard to tear yourself away from the screen. If you need to use a computer all day for work, try to get away from it during your leisure hours.
#6 Keep in touch with others
Stay in touch with friends and family while working from home, and for maximum mental health benefits, meet up in person–you can even take advantage of a flexible schedule to grab coffee, breakfast or lunch during a working weekday.
#7 Think positive
There’s always something to doomscroll about, and without the boss over your shoulder, it can be easy to get depressed about the state of the world while working from home. Try to take a break from the news, or at least make sure you avoid clickbait and use reliable news sources.
#8 Watch your habits
If you have a tendency to drink too much, smoke, or struggle with your eating habits, you’ve probably noticed that working from home makes it harder to resist temptation. This can seriously impact your mental as well as physical health, so keep trying new ways to adopt healthier habits.
#9 Don’t forget your hobbies
Working from home can make it easy to neglect yourself and try to turn into a work machine–but without fun and variety in your day, you’re unlikely to be happy or productive. Make time for your hobbies, or take up a new one that makes you feel good.
Volunteering is a great way to get out of the house (although there are plenty of online volunteer opportunities if you prefer), and doing good feels good. Just two hours a week is enough to get all the mental health benefits of volunteering.