Working from home can be a wonderful thing. You get to set your own hours, you don’t have to go into an office, and there’s no commute time. However, working from home can also come with its share of challenges.
A recent study conducted in 2021 by Workplace Options surveyed over 13,000 American workers. The report found that half of the respondents said they experience stress in their lives outside of work, and about one-third say this stress carries over into their working hours at least some or most of the time.
Another study by Career Builder shows that nearly 60% of over one thousand participants have shown that working from home leads to more stress and a higher chance of emotional breakdowns.
If you find yourself stressed out when you work from home, here are some tips that may help.
What is it About Working from Home That is Stressful?
Stress is a natural response that the body has when you are in danger or when it feels like your life is in danger. This means that all stress responses are caused by the perception of risk rather than by what is causing this feeling.
Working from home comes with its own set of problems for people to feel stressed out about. Here are some common examples:
Lack of Routine
Working at home affords you the luxury of setting your hours, and there’s no rigid schedule to stick to. However, taking advantage of this can lead to feeling unfocused and not having enough structure in one’s day, which leads to more stress.
Not Getting Enough Feedback
When you work from home, you don’t have a set of managers to report to daily. This can mean that the only feedback you get is when your family members or friends notice something that has gone wrong with your work.
For some people, working from home means losing out on a good salary and benefits. If they know that their coworker who works in an office is getting paid more than them, it’s easy to start feeling stressed about not having enough money coming into the household.
Lack of Social Contact
This can be true for both introverts and extroverts. For example, introverted people may find it hard to talk to people on the phone or through video chat while working at home. But, on the other hand, Extroverted workers miss out on the chance to have water cooler conversations that they may think are necessary to their growth in a company or career.
12 Tips You Can Use to Manage Work From Home Stress
While working from home comes with its own set of challenges, there are things you can do to help manage stress when you work from home.
Establish a Routine
Establishing a routine can help you stay focused and on task. If possible, try to create a schedule for yourself where you know what your day looks like from start to finish. This can help your mind relax and reduce the stress you feel at work. If you don’t think that you could do this, think about what activities put you in a relaxed state and try to do those every day at the same time because it will be soothing for your brain to know when these things happen, and it doesn’t need to fight your thoughts about being stressed out.
Focus on Your Breathing
When you feel anxious or overwhelmed by something, it’s easy for your breathing to become shallow, leading to more stress. To bring yourself back from this place, try focusing on deep breaths throughout the day. This technique is called mindfulness and, if practiced enough, can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed quite quickly.
Take Frequent Breaks
Taking scheduled breaks is vital to give your mind time to rest, recuperate and refocus on the task at hand. When you take short breaks regularly, it also helps release tension in your body, reducing feelings of stress.
Exercise is a great way to deal with stress because when you are done working out, endorphins will be released in your brain, which will make you feel happier and more relaxed. You can also try getting up from your desk or sitting position every half an hour or so to get your blood flowing for a few minutes before jumping back into what you were doing.
Surround Yourself with Nature
Studies have shown that being around nature reduces stress hormones in the body significantly over time if practiced enough. If you are working from home, try to set up your workstation in a room with natural light coming through the windows. If that’s not an option, invest in some plants or flowers to put on your desk and around your workspace to see if they can make a difference for you.
Find Meaning in Your Work
Sometimes, when you cannot find meaning or purpose in what you do, it can cause stress. Instead of shoulder surfing for solutions, try thinking about what your core values are and how that relates to the work you do daily. When it comes down to it, does this job align with what I believe is most important? This simple refocusing of your thoughts can be enough to reduce feelings of stress.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Try to set up a workspace where you will be able to do your work. If possible, try to invest in something that’s comfortable for you, like ergonomic furniture or even special software like noise-canceling earphones to help reduce distractions if necessary.
Learn to Say No
It’s hard to say no to many commitments, but it is crucial to your mental health to have time for yourself. So, if you have a friend or family member reaching out and wanting your help with something, try saying no because this additional stress can make the work-at-home situation much worse.
Get Enough Sleep
Not getting enough sleep can be another trigger for when you feel stressed out while working from home. Try to set up some schedule where you go to bed and wake up at similar times every day to get into a healthy sleeping pattern that will reduce feelings of anxiety when trying to manage work from home stress. You should also try cleaning up your sleep environment like having blackout curtains on your windows, turning off all of your electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, and only using a small night light if you need it to help you fall asleep.
Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to forget about eating healthy, exercising, or taking time for yourself when working from home. A lot of the focus is usually on whatever project you are working on, so try to put some time in every day where you can go for a walk outside, perform some simple stretches, drink lots of water throughout the day and do something creative like making art or listening to music that will calm your mind down. If possible, try going into a quiet room just by yourself for 10-20 minutes every day to have time to meditate, pray or take deep breaths to center yourself and help with any feelings of anxiety you might be experiencing managing work from home stress.
Check-In With Yourself Every Day
When working from home, it can sometimes feel like the days blend into each other because most of these jobs don’t have a set schedule that you can keep to. So try to check in with yourself every day and see if everything is going okay or you even use a timesheet calculator to keep everything in check. If not, consider using one or more of the above tips to help ease your stress levels so you can get back on track for a healthier work-from-home experience overall.
Ask for Help
If the above tips don’t seem to be helping you manage work-from-home stress, it may be time to ask for help. There are resources available online that you can use (like this article), or there might even be someone at work who also works from home who you could talk with about what they do when they feel stressed out. Another option is hiring a life coach or wellness consultant to help implement healthier habits into your daily routine to feel less stressed more often. So, if you’re feeling like working from home has become too stressful, try using one of these tips and see if things start getting better. Think about asking for help from a local therapist or life coach in your area.
In closing, managing work from home stress is challenging and can sometimes seem impossible. But with a few changes to your daily routine and some additional help from other people, it’s possible to get back on track for a healthier lifestyle overall. The above tips should help you take a step back and realize your worth as a person and that it’s okay to ask for help. Then, try implementing one or more of the tips into your daily routine and see if you start feeling better about working from home in general, without all of this extra stress weighing you down.