Can Working From Home Improve Your Mental Health?

Depending on who you ask, working from home can be relaxing and productive or loathsome and ineffective. It’s definitely not for everyone. For many people, however, it is an effective way to improve work-life balance, mental health and general wellbeing. With around 20% of the American workforce experiencing depression and anxiety disorders in a given year – which subsequently costs employers billions of dollars on an annual basis – flexible working arrangements or self employment may be the perfect solution.

Benefits of working from home

Whether you decide to quit your 9-5 job and start your own business, or you simply want to ask your manager if you can work from home on a part-time or full-time basis, there are so many potential benefits that could have a profound impact on your overall state of mind.

Stress reduction

The most significant benefit of working from home is the potential to reduce stress levels. There’s no daily commute, you can sleep a bit longer, family commitments are easier to manage, and you’ll likely achieve a better level of concentration without the distraction of office chatter and telephones. You could also save money on travel, food, childcare and work attire.

Whilst it’s impossible to avoid all work-related stress, it makes more sense to avoid situations and environments that trigger feelings of emotional strain. The sheer pressure of having to go out to work every day can be overwhelming and debilitating for some people, particularly those with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Thankfully, working from home can receive some of this pressure. You can set your own schedule, take regular breaks at times that suit you best, and work in a tranquil environment that’s free of negative energy and irritating colleagues.

Time management

The extra time you will save from not having to commute can be put to better use:

  • More sleep
  • Additional time with the family
  • Walking the dog
  • Taking a yoga class
  • Reading those books you never have time for
  • Starting work earlier in the morning and finishing earlier in the evening
  • Preparing healthy meals
  • Meeting a friend for coffee
  • Grocery shopping at a quite time of day
  • Enjoying a more leisurely pace

Any one of these activities is surely more appealing than traveling during rush hour twice a day, unless you have a penchant for traffic jams or the smell of a crowded train on a sweltering summer’s day. By spending more time on the activities you enjoy, or simply being able to slow down, you will feel more calm and relaxed.

Increased productivity

When you feel better in your body and mind, you’ll be more alert, motivated and productive at work. If you’re constantly tired, stressed and anxious, you’re more likely to resent your job, approach it in an unenthusiastic manner and damage your work-life balance.

For some people, the job itself is the problem. For others, the problems that affect their wellbeing are consequences of an unsuitable schedule or working environment. These types of problems can be fixed, at least to some extent, by working from home.

Improved physical health

The time you would otherwise spend commuting or trying not to have a meltdown could be redirected toward improving your physical health. Go out for a brisk walk or bike ride. Take up running or swimming. Sign up to a yoga or exercise class. Buy a treadmill desk. The possibilities are endless. By incorporating exercise into your working day, you’ll feel more energised and improve your state of mind.

Exercise is one for the most effective remedies for mental health challenges like stress, anxiety and depression. Even the simplest form of physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which promotes feelings of wellness. It also relieves tension and stress, improves concentration and memory function, helps you sleep better, and distracts you from negative thought patterns that disrupt your productivity.

Healthy eating

Nutrition plays a vital role in the state of our mental health. Working from home makes it much easier to prepare healthy meals. There’s no need to rely on calorie-dense snacks, pre-packaged items and fast food – most of which contains excess sugar, salt and fat. By stocking up on fruit, nuts and other nutritious whole foods, you can prepare healthful meals and snacks to keep you energised throughout the day and improve your mental wellbeing.

Optimal work-life balance

You can achieve a much better work-life balance by working from home because you won’t have to rushing around so much or traveling to and from the office. Instead, you can set a schedule to accommodate your family commitments, friends, leisure activities and rest.

If you already suffer from mental healthy difficulties like stress, anxiety or depression, working from home will make it much easier for you to accommodate and manage your condition in an appropriate manner. You will feel more positive and energised as a result, and these benefits will have a huge impact on your relationships, motivation levels and general outlook.

Potential disadvantages of working from home

There are, of course, downsides to self-employment or working from home. Some people feel isolated and lonely, which can exacerbate pre-existing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. The insecurity of self-employment has the potential to cause more stress and anxiety. A lack of enforced structure and face-to-face management can lead to general apathy and a lack of motivation to work. Everybody is different, so it really just depends on the individual. Nevertheless, working from home is an incredibly worthwhile consideration for anyone who struggles with a mental health condition.

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