Today I want to talk about depression when working from home, how it can happen, and how to cope with it.
I have the privilege of working from home, part time. So does my husband. So do many people I know.
This is a privilege I enjoy, and it’s really good for my mental health. For one, I get more accomplished because there are less distractions.
I know this isn’t true for everyone. I’ve talked to people who cannot work from home, because when they’re at home, they are distracted by all the things.
I have to do dishes, laundry, I could scrub the floor, balance my cheque book, and take a nap… oh wait, I’m supposed to be working?
It makes sense why some people would want to work at the office, even if given the opportunity to work from home.
This is a good way to separate work from personal as well. I will do my work when I’m at work, and I will have a personal life as soon as I leave the office.
This is where working from home can have a downside.
Feeding Off the Energy of Others (Good and Bad)
If I’m able to take a laptop and cell phone with me everywhere, there’s no reason why I can’t work all the time, right?
This is also a huge reason for my depression, but that is not the topic of this post.
If you can learn to shut off and disconnect from work outside of working hours, then working from home can be amazing.
Personally, I like limiting my time at the office because I find that the energy at work is a bit overwhelming.
I’ve been described as an empath, by more than enough people to believe it to be true.
I’m tapped into other people’s emotions and it has a big impact on my own. If you’re down, I’m down too. If you’re happy, I’m happy too.
There’s an energy that I can feel and don’t really understand. I don’t know how to control this, and haven’t really researched it enough to describe it.
Being at work is hard for me because there are so many people whose energy I can feel, and it can be counterproductive to getting my work done.
It is good for the social element, so I do like the balance of work from office and work from home.
After having multiple mental health discussions with too many people to count, I’ve learned that this isn’t true for everyone.
Recently I spoke with someone who works from home permanently. It’s not a corporate job. It’s not an office job.
That’s about all I know about it – she works from home, and therefore rarely ever leaves.
Being at home 90% of the time is causing major depression.
I tried to put myself in her shoes to better understand her emotions, and believe me, I get it.
Adding to Your Depression When Working from Home
Think about it. You spend 8 hours per day sleeping, presumably in bed in your home. You spend another 8 hours a day at work, in this case, at home.
That leaves you with another 8 hours to do whatever you want.
That’s assuming you have figured out how to shut off at the end of your work day.
Okay, so you’re already at home, you’ve finished sleeping, you’ve finished working, now what?
Well, there’s laundry, dishes, floor scrubbing, bank book balancing, and I can make up a bunch of other reasons to stay at home.
These are good reasons, sure, except you can’t spend all 8 of your personal hours, every single day, at home. You’ll go crazy… or suffer from depression.
You need an escape.
Personally, I have kids that I need to take care of. Most of my 8 hours are spent on them, if not feeding them, then taking them to their extracurricular activities.
Even if it’s not something I’d like to be doing, it certainly gets me out of the house.
I also make the time to do things just for me.
- I go for walks.
- I read books.
- I listen to podcasts.
Back in the day, I’d go to Zumba. I need to do that again – that was a great release.
With the exception of Zumba, which I haven’t done in a long time, all of the other things I can do within the home.
Even walks – due to weather, and laziness, I’d just use my treadmill.
I have a step goal that I’m pretty strict about achieving daily.
But I can’t be bothered to get dressed and go outside, when I can stay in my pyjamas and hop on the treadmill.
Now, with the warmer weather, I go outside every single day.
Going back to my friend who works from home and is suffering from depression though, it makes me reflect on those colder months when I’d rarely ever leave the house as well.
- I’d leave once a week for my daughter’s gymnastics.
- I’d leave once a week for my son’s soccer.
- I’d leave once a week for Zumba.
Other than the two days per week I’d be in the office, and the occasional errands, drop offs, and pick ups, I’d be at home in the comfort of my pyjamas.
If you remove anything child related, and office related, how many times would I leave the house in a week? Once or twice?
Imagine my friend, without children related reasons to leave, and a permanent work from home job – she doesn’t have many reasons to leave the house.
How to Counter Depression When Working from Home
Your home should be your sanctuary, but the only way to truly appreciate this is if you leave.
I had another conversation with a different friend about life at the cottage. This friend also has a cottage, not near mine, but the concept applies.
We love our cottages: even though it’s a second home to maintain, and quite the commute, it’s an escape.
When people ask, “why not just move there?” well, even though the thought has crossed our minds, if we lived at the cottage, it would no longer be a cottage. It’d be a home.
We’d need a different escape. We’d need a reason to leave.
You can’t truly appreciate your home, and all the benefits of the coziness inside, unless you leave it. Regularly.
Find an escape.
I find walking to be the best and cheapest escape. Dress for the weather, and get yourself outside. Remind me to do this in the winter, please.
Take fifteen minutes every day and go. Fifteen minutes not enough? Go for as long a walk as you can, but promise yourself a minimum of fifteen minutes.
Better yet, find a friend you can walk with. Commit to each other and go, but don’t be dependent on the other either.
The mentality should be “I’m going to walk every single day at this time, if you can join me, great, if not, I’m still going to walk.”
For those with mobility issues, chronic pain, etc. if walking is too hard, find another escape. Find another reason to leave the house. Ask a doctor.
You have approximately 8 hours every day to find an opportunity to escape.
Go to the library. Read a book there instead of at home.
Take a long drive. Find a scenic route to the grocery store.
Take public transit with no destination. Have you ever ridden on a bus? Take a trip around the loop.
Be mindful of the people getting on and off the bus. Look outside as the bus moves and stops.
The bottom line is, you need to leave your house each day in order to appreciate it more when you return.
Try to find time for yourself. Try to find a little piece of escapism. Keep your mental health in check.
Try not to find excuses for any of the above. Your mental health should come before anything else.
What do you do to escape? Email me or comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!