Work is about more than just getting a paycheck – many of us spend more than half of our awake time at work every week, so it’s an essential part of life that affects our sense of fulfilment and self-actualisation.
It’s no wonder that when Covid-19 abruptly pushes millions of people into remote working and fundamentally changes the nature of “work”, many people experience symptoms of depression and burnout.
It is not difficult to tell if you have work-from-home depression. The symptoms can range from fatigue, lack of motivation, to having trouble sleeping and concentrating. If you are looking for effective ways to manage these depression symptoms, below are Working Den’s tested tips.
Develop a more consistent daily routine
If you reach out for your phone or laptop the moment you wake up and start working without brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, this bad habit may be part of the problem.
Many of our daily routines were thrown off course when we were forced into remote working, but it doesn’t mean we have to be.
Having a daily schedule to wake up, eat, sleep, work, and exercise can relieve the decision-making portion of your brain, so you can save that energy to do something else.
Maintaining a daily schedule also allows you to have control over your life when nothing else in the world makes sense to you.
Having a healthy, productive lifestyle can also lead to better sleep quality, which allows your brain to rest and recharge. Better sleep has also been proven to help with depression and anxiety.
Take a break from work to stretch or exercise
Working from home may be more convenient since you don’t have to commute for hours to get to work. However, sitting in a home office all day, walking only from your desk to your fridge and back, and rarely breathing fresh air, aren’t great for your physical and mental health either.
Idleness often leads to fatigue, which is closely linked to depression and anxiety. So, when you get the chance to take a break from work (and we recommend you do regularly throughout the day), make up for that lack of activity by stretching and release the tension from your back, neck, and core. You will feel instantly relaxed.
Taking 30 minutes every day to exercise can also do wonders for your mental health. Exercising seems quite intimidating, but you don’t have to do 100 push-ups or run a marathon for it to count. Instead, find a physical activity that you enjoy – be it Zumba, cardio exercise, or weight – and make time for that in your schedule.
Exercise can help you relieve symptoms of depression by releasing tension, strengthening your body and mind, and helping you sleep better as well.
Spend more time outdoors
Research has suggested that nature is a great “cure” for symptoms of depression and anxiety. Time spent in nature has been shown to positively correlate with reduced stress and better mood.
Taking a walk outside in nature, breathing in fresh air, and enjoying the calming effect of the woods, can help you manage your depression. If you are experiencing depression as a consequence of cabin fever, perhaps finding time to explore the parks around your neighborhood can help.
Limit screen time outside of work
Many of us spend over eight hours every day staring at a computer screen for work, only to spend the majority of our free time staring at our phone or tablet. Every day, we are bombarded by hundreds of pop-up ads, emails, app notifications, all pulling us in a different direction.
This information overload (not to mention the negativity often seen on social media and the news) can steal the joy out of the everyday moments and rob you of your energy.
If screen addiction is the cause of your depression, you can start by investigating your use of technology. Go through your phone and tablet and purge all the apps that don’t bring you joy, and turn off notifications for other apps that may be too distracting. If you become more mindful with your use of technology, you can find more benefits in the ones that you actually use, while minimising the harmful effects of screen addiction.
Practice mindfulness when feeling depressed working from home
Mindfulness is the art of being in the moment. The aforementioned information overload can make you feel distracted and less able to concentrate deeply on work, which affects your productivity and may even cause you more stress.
Practicing mindfulness can help you direct your attention to the task at hand, whether it is work or just enjoying the moment with your family.
A daily meditation routine is incredibly beneficial to help you feel calmer and more relaxed. When you first get started, you can start small with only five to 10 minutes of meditation, where you clear your mind and focus on your breathing. When distractions come across your mind, you can simply let them go and redirect your attention.
This daily practice can regulate your mood, help you deal with adversity without feeling stressed out, and help you become happier by directing your attention to enjoy the moment.
Connect with others
Working from home can be lonely since you often don’t get to have “watercooler chats” and get to know your coworkers. This lack of interpersonal relationships at work can make you feel detached and less invested in work, isolating you and causing you to feel loneliness and depression.
If this is the case, reach out to your coworkers and managers and express your need for connection. Chances are, they may be feeling the same way. While social distancing rules may not allow you to gather, having happy hour or a weekly non-work catch up over zoom with your coworkers, friends, or family, can help you feel less isolated and get more support to cope with depression.