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6 Practical Mental Health Tips For Remote Workers

Remote workers consistently report being more happy than employees who attend offices. That makes complete sense. You get to be at home, you can choose when to work, you can decide to work from your bed — it just makes so much sense.

But then again, remote workers are also associated with an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression symptoms.

Those are two very counterintuitive stats.

Mental health tips for remote workers

So, what gives?

Well, weirdly, it’s all the things that make remote work great. You are at home and you’re mostly always at home. You can work some days and if you’re not feeling all that great, you don’t have to work. That means that there’s no social interaction, even digitally.

If you let go a bit, you can actually go for days without any human interaction at all. You can go days without stepping out of your home, either. Essentially, you can become a hermit.

And that has a serious impact on us. We are, by design, social creatures. Isolation is a direct by-product of remote work and if you’re not paying enough attention, it can affect your mental health considerably.

And mental health isn’t just about how you’re feeling. It can affect your work. You might find it harder to concentrate, or maybe tasks that usually seem straightforward suddenly feel like a mountain to climb.

This drop in productivity isn't just about numbers or meeting targets; it can affect your self-esteem and job satisfaction too.

On a broader level, your mental health shapes your quality of life. Stress can bleed into personal life, too. Mental health doesn’t clock out when the work day ends.

So, what can you actually do?

That’s exactly what this blog is about. Let’s get into it.

Practical Mental Health Tips For Remote Workers

Come up with a routine

I’ve worked remotely for years and this is by far, the number one tip that’s helped me. Having a routine and sticking to it is one of the best things you can do as a remote worker. It adds structure to your day and that’s very important.

Our brains absolutely love routines. In fact, brains crave predictability. It’s like creating a roadmap that basically tells your brain what mode you have to be in at a certain point in a day. Ideally, you want your brain to know — at the beginning of the day — when you have to eat, work, go play, or sleep.

When your workplace is a few feet away from your bed, you lose boundaries between work and home life.

Having a routine can help you establish a clear separation. It can also boost your productivity levels. When your brain knows that a particular time is for work, it does not have to deal with the stress of constant decision-making. To work or not to work is a question your brain shouldn’t have to deal with, every few hours.

Also, routines help with sleep. There’s a really cool study (you can read it here) that showed that remote workers who didn’t get a lot of sleep, could actually get a lot of sleep.

They weren’t necessarily working when they had to sleep. It’s just that they didn’t sleep because they could stay awake. Your body is less tired when you’re working remotely and this means that it’s not tired enough to ask for sleep.

Obviously, less sleep isn’t great. Having a routine and sort of telling your brain that you have to sleep can help you a ton.

Create a workspace and only work there

This is another one of those “trick your brain” tips. Your environment can have a genuine, real effect on your mood and behavior. An oversimplified way to think about it is — you wouldn’t want to work and hold meetings in a dumpster.

That’s an overobvious point, I grant you but even subtle environmental changes have an impact.

If you’re anything like me, you want to log off and sleep every time you happen to even glance at your bed.

So, create a workspace. A dedicated workspace where you’re going to sit and be fantastically productive.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. You’re not going for any awards here. The aim behind having a dedicated workspace is to simply trigger a psychological shift, telling your brain to switch from “home” or “relax” mode to “work” mode.

Just a simple trigger will help you a ton. It’ll create a soft of mental boundary, allowing you to focus on your job more.

It also helps avoid distractions. If you're working in a cluttered, high-traffic area of your home, it's easy to lose focus. But when you have a space designated for work, you're less likely to be sidetracked by household chores or family activities.

But more important (and relevant) than all this is the fact that a pleasant and comfortable workplace can reduce your overall stress.

And finding a workplace or creating one isn’t just about finding a spot and calling it a day. There are a few important things to do.

For starters, make it productive. A little stool in the corner of a room with no desk or furniture to keep anything isn’t a workspace. Your workspace, beyond anything, should be productive. You should be able to keep the items you need close by and you need to be able to sit comfortably.

Once you’ve done that, try and personalize it a bit. A plant, a photo, stationeries — you be the judge of what you want. Just ensure that your workplace is actually an inviting place.

If your workplace isn’t comfortable, can’t hold everything you need, doesn’t support good posture, and is just not quiet, you’re going to be stressed out and that’s not good for your mental health.

Take care of your physical health:

There’s a very clear connection between physical and mental health. In fact, they’re so well-connected that taking care of one helps the other, as well.

When you engage in physical activity, your body releases endorphins, often referred to as 'feel-good' hormones.

These endorphins have a huge part to play in mood regulation, reducing stress, anxiety, and even symptoms of depression.

Also, if you work out, your body gets tired and that promotes better sleep.

Mind you, physical exercise doesn’t mean that you have to do a ton of intense exercises to the point where you’re not even able to walk right.

Do some basic stretch exercises, go for a walk, or maybe even just use a standing desk. Also, pick something that you at least slightly enjoy. The results of physical exercise aren’t apparent in a day. It takes time. So, pick something that you won’t instantly abandon.

The main point is — don’t just get up from your bed, sit in a chair all day, and come right back to the bed. That’s simply not good.

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Don’t let go of social interactions altogether

As we spoke about it in the introduction, we are social animals. We thrive on connections with others. Social interaction is associated with lower anxiety and depression. It also helps build your self-esteem.

And yes, remote work isn’t great for social interactions. But you don’t have to let go completely. Social interaction is a genuine requirement and talking to others can be done even when you’re working remotely.

Don’t be completely dismissive of video calls, take some time to talk to your colleagues after work, join online events, and build a virtual network. You’ll be better because of it.

But the most important thing is to go out. While virtual interactions can be great, it’s nothing when compared to actually meeting people.

If you don’t live in your hometown or if you’ve just moved to a new place and don’t have a lot of friends around, pick a hobby.

It can be anything. Cycling, table tennis, badminton, meditation, swimming — it really doesn’t matter. There are communities around every hobby and just having a hobby and indulging in it will make you part of the community.

While it may take some time for these nascent friendships to mature, they’re still very useful for your mental health. Just having a good laugh can release endorphins and help you. And there are a lot of absolute jokers out there.

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Digital Detox is important

Phones, computers, laptops — they’re amazing. They make us productive, they bring people closer, and they are incredibly useful. This is especially true for remote workers.

But then again, email notifications, endless Zoom calls, a constant stream of social media updates — this isn’t entirely healthy, either. It can lead to mental fatigue.

In fact, there’s even a term for it — Digital Fatigue.

Digital fatigue is the stress and anxiety that’s caused by constant connectivity and a lot of screen time.

This might seem trivial but digital fatigue can take a serious toll on your mental health. Too much screen time can contribute to feelings of anxiety, depression, and social isolation.

And your physical health is at stake, too. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your sleep patterns, leading to poor sleep quality. That in turn can negatively impact your mental health.

The pith of the matter is that it’s bad. Too much screen time is bad for your body and for your mind.

So, make sure you set clear boundaries at work, schedule tech-free times in your schedule, take up a few offline activities, and most importantly, create a tech-free sleep environment.

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Know when to seek professional help:

Mental health, just like physical health, sometimes requires professional intervention. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of stigma attached to mental health. It’s fading away quickly but it does exist. So, it's important to understand that there's no shame or weakness in seeking help.

You wouldn’t call leaving an infection untreated a sign of strength, would you?

Mental health professionals are far more capable of understanding exactly what your problem is and what you have to do to deal with it. They can give you the tools and strategies you need to manage your feelings, cope with stress, and get ahead of your issues.

But then again, when should you reach out to a professional?

While it’s not an exhaustive list, here are a few signs:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness.

  • A significant decrease in enjoyment or interest in activities that used to bring you joy.

  • Changes in appetite or weight, whether it's eating too much or too little.

  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.

  • Frequent mood swings.

  • Feeling excessively tired or lacking energy.

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering things, or making decisions.

  • Persistent feelings of worthlessness or guilt.

  • Constant restlessness or irritability.

  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

These aren’t the only cases that indicate that you need professional help. If you think you do, reach out to a mental health professional, if only to confirm that you’re quite okay.

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If you’re working remotely, mental health is something that you should keep an eye on, no matter how happy you are, in general. It’s a slippery slope.

These tips are simple, practical habits that you can inculcate in your daily life. If you follow these and you feel you’re still not okay, reach out to a professional.

Mental health doesn’t just affect your mood, it affects your entire personality and that’s not great for your profession, either.

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