How Working from Home Has Impacted Mental Health
Many studies have been done on remote work and mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. A 2021 survey run by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) found that most remote workers reported negative consequences to their mental health, but for some people, the net result of having a remote job involves a more positive experience. The advantages of working from home include:
- Avoiding the potential spread of the virus
- Less commuting, saving you time and money
- The flexibility to live where you want
- The ability to use your breaks for chores and errands, leaving more free time in the evenings
- Healthier eating and more time for exercise
- Fewer distractions and higher productivity
There are also disadvantages to a person’s mental health when working from home. These include:
- Isolation – feeling lonely and cut off from the world. Feelings of disconnectedness are associated with anxiety and depression.
- Lack of work-life balance – working from home may cause work to permeate into their everyday home life. It is difficult to relax knowing there is work to be done, especially if you do not have a dedicated workspace and are not setting boundaries and time blocking, leading to anxiety, stress, and burnout.
- It can be boring – under stimulation and staring at a silent computer screen all day may affect your mental health negatively.
- It can be overwhelming – staying engaged in screen time, with constant Zoom, Slack, and Teams meetings and conversations popping up when you are trying to work can make those working a remote job feel harried and stressed out, especially around deadlines.
- Uncertainty – when the work environment is constantly changing, remote workers will begin to feel stressed and worried and may never feel truly settled in their role with the constant disruptions of their routine.
Mental Health and Substance Abuse During the Pandemic
Mental health services have seen a considerable increase in demand due to the uncertainty and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this increase also reflects the risks of substance misuse and substance use disorders (SUDs) developing in those struggling to cope.
Each person will need to weigh out their individual circumstances to decide whether a work-from-home life will diminish or improve their mental health. Those struggling with mental health issues, substance use issues, addiction, or an alcohol use disorder may find that the feelings of isolation, life disruptions, and pressure may cause them to misuse substances.
Drug and alcohol use has continued to increase. This trend has continued due to a lack of consistent, easily accessed mental health care, social isolation, economic stress, and general anxiety about the COVID 19 pandemic, causing people to make unhealthy decisions to escape reality.
Overdoses increased by 18% in the early months of the pandemic because travel restrictions disrupted the drug supply chain causing opioid users to turn to fentanyl and because more people are using it alone. Many clinics, community-based organizations, and healthcare facilities decreased their services, making it more challenging to access addiction treatment.
There are also fewer stress and mental well-being management opportunities available to people, as social activities, sports, and other gatherings are no longer deemed safe to engage in or easy to access. People struggle to separate work and life, and mental health care has also moved online in many cases, which may not work as well for some patients.
While at home, here are the most common drugs in the home that people may turn to:
Tips for Maintaining Mental Health While Working From Home
Some simple tips for staying mentally well while working from home include maintaining a good work-life balance and setting boundaries. Practice time blocking: have a start and end time to work, and if possible, keep your home office in a separate room or dedicated workspace from the rest of your home to separate work and life. Establish a good work routine, including the morning routine of getting dressed for the workday, to help your brain separate your workday and your home life while staying mentally healthy.
Ensure you take breaks, move your body, and spend time getting some exercise. Step away from the computer, limiting your screen time, and go for a hike, stretch, go to the gym during your lunch hour, or take the dog for a walk to boost endorphins, keep you from stiffening up, rest your eyes, improve your mental health, and lower your anxiety stress and worry.
You may also wish to try and work around other people if you can. Trade in the home office for a coffee shop, hit the library, or join a co-working space to get human interaction and ambiance. Maintaining connections with your favorite people is essential. Ensure you stay in touch with friends and family to remain mentally healthy and avoid feelings of isolation due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Help for Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders
At WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Reha, we offer dual diagnosis treatments that treat substance use disorders and mental health issues together in one integrated detox and rehabilitation program that may include:
- Medication-assisted detox
- Mental wellness services
- Inpatient rehab
- Partial hospitalization program (PHP)
- Intensive outpatient program (IOP)
- Outpatient rehab
- Aftercare and peer support groups
- Psychological and physical health coaching
Some of the most common co-occurring mental health disorders with addiction that we treat include bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, and borderline personality disorder. People with addictions who also have these issues can get caught in a cyclical relationship between substance abuse and mental health issues, which will become a detriment to a successful recovery, so treating them simultaneously is highly beneficial.
Contact our team to learn more about addiction and mental health services available to you today.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.