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How Working Alone Affects Your Mental Health While remote working was already on the rise

While remote working was already on the rise, it became a necessity for thousands of people when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, many people still find themselves working alone from their homes.

There are plenty of positives to working from home, but when you’re used to a bustling, busy office with a lot of socialization and teamwork, working alone can feel isolating and lonely. So much so, that some researchers are starting to question the connection between freelancing and depression.

Whether you’re working from home for the first time or you’ve been doing it for a while and you’re starting to notice some changes in your mental health, it’s important to take charge of your feelings now. There are things you can do to give your mental health a boost and make the most of working alone, no matter your current job situation.

Acknowledge What You’re Experiencing
For some, it can be easy to brush off common symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. However, the sooner you recognize and acknowledge those symptoms, the sooner you can start treating them.

Because loneliness and isolation are often linked to depression, it’s important to understand some of the major symptoms to look out for, including:

 - Fatigue
 - Changes in sleeping/eating habits
 - Restlessness
 - Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
 - Trouble concentrating and making decisions

If you’ve just recently started to work alone, it’s also a good idea to acknowledge any issues you might have been dealing with beforehand. For example, some people have symptoms of anxiety, but they only tend to notice when they are around certain triggers. Some of the most common triggers include:

 - Caffeine
 - Alcohol
 - Family
 - Money problems
 - Health problems
 - Global issues

These triggers can pop up anywhere, and you may have started to notice them even before you were working on your own. Again, recognizing and acknowledging them can make it easier to accept treatment. Both anxiety and depression are manageable conditions, but they typically don’t go away on their own. Talking to a mental health professional can help you to reign in those thoughts and feelings and feel more in control once again.

There are also things you can do in your personal life and work-life to give your mental health a boost and find a positive work-life balance.

Creating the Right Environment at Home
One of the best things you can do is to create an ideal work atmosphere at home. Have a dedicated office space that is only used for work, so the rest of your house doesn’t feel like you’re taking the office home with you. Make sure your home office is a place that inspires and motivates you, without causing too much stress.

Stress is also often one of the biggest issues people who work by themselves face. While it can be more relaxing and comfortable to work from home, there are still deadlines to meet, technology issues, and even the stress that comes from a fear of missing out with colleagues and co-workers. In many ways, you might experience stress similar to college students when they’re navigating a new environment for the first time.

Creating a relaxing environment is about more than just putting together a calm office space. It’s about making your work atmosphere at home something that puts self-care first. You can reduce your stress levels by:

 - Taking frequent breaks
 - Managing your time effectively
 - Relaxing your body and mind
 - Doing something you enjoy

Practicing self-care is extremely important when it comes to managing your stress and your mental health, in general. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, eating right, staying active, practicing self-care, and staying social.

Staying Social Whenever Possible
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are many ways to stay social, even when you work by yourself.

If you’re a freelancer and you don’t work for a specific company, try to get out of the house once in a while to be around other people. Working at your favorite coffee shop or your local library can help you feel better, simply because you’re around people. Make sure to develop a healthy work-life balance, too, so you have time to spend with your friends and family at the end of the day.

If you do work for a business but you’re working remotely, be sure to check in with your co-workers as often as possible. Participate in video calls, and get creative with virtual “get-togethers” after work hours to stay connected.

There may be times when you feel like you’re struggling with loneliness when you’re working on your own. Expressing yourself during those times is one of the best things you can do. So, don’t be afraid to reach out to family members, friends, or even a mental health professional about what you’re feeling. Sometimes, simply talking about what you’re going through can make a difference. There’s no denying that working alone can take a toll on your mental health. By recognizing that early, you can manage any symptoms you might see, and make the most of your remote opportunity.

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Courtesy of NASE.org
https://www.nase.org/about-us/media-relations/News/nase-in-the-news/2021/03/02/how-working-alone-affects-your-mental-health-while-remote-working-was-already-on-the-rise