How Can Your Home Office Work for Your Mental Health?
The change to working from home impacted many people’s mental health. Some saw it as a net positive, while others found that being home left them feeling overworked and isolated from their coworkers. There are many ways working from home affects your mental health, so it’s important to make sure your home office works for you, not against you. Let’s take a look at a few ways your home office can help boost your mental health both during the workday and in your personal life.
Promote a Healthy Work-Life Balance
When working from home, you need a barrier between your work life and home life. Otherwise, they can permeate each other causing both to suffer. By creating a designated home office, you can minimize the distractions of your home life and improve focus and productivity.
Additionally, your home life has enough stressors on its own. By keeping your work life behind a closed door at the end of the day, you can provide a physical barrier that helps maintain your mental ones. When work is always within view, it can be hard to leave it alone. Being able to close a door and stop thinking about it helps to keep you from being overworked and burnt out.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the option to dedicate a whole room to their home office. If your office must go in a shared space, keep it out of your bedroom. By mixing your work and your resting spaces, your brain will stop associating the room with sleeping and will switch into “productivity mode” when you’re trying to get some rest. Opt instead for a corner in your living room or a hallway, where your brain doesn’t need to compete with itself.
Take Breaks for Self-Care
While working from home, you have more control over how you care for yourself. You have access to your stuff, instead of relying on what’s in-and-around an office space. Take advantage of this freedom! Taking breaks to focus on your mental health can improve your productivity and overall wellbeing.
For some, talk therapy can be an effective form of self-care. While it could be hard to fit in an appointment while at an office, you have more flexibility at home to see a provider in person or online. There are many different options for therapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, or interpersonal therapy. It’s important to explore different types to find what may be suitable for you and your needs.
Exercise is also an essential part of self-care when working at home. You have a greater ability to control your workout space and equipment, while not having to worry about being judged at the gym. Additionally, many remote-work companies offer a fitness program or benefit that you can take advantage of to build your home gym. Stretching is one of the best exercises for those working from home, and our Stretching Courses can teach you how to best manage your body while working from home.
By having a dedicated workspace, you can limit the distractions that pull you away from your work. Pets, family, or roommates can all have their own demands during your workday, and while they are important, sometimes you need to focus. Having a door to close, or a set workspace that communicates you’re busy, is essential for staying productive.
Even if you live alone, the distractions of the home can still sometimes overcome your work. If you can block out your laundry, the dishes, or other household chores, you’re less likely to use them to procrastinate.
Additionally, there are tools you can use to prevent distractions from infiltrating your home office. Putting a sign on the door, or wearing noise canceling headphones can signal to others in the home that you’re unavailable.
Create a Workspace for Mental Wellness
When designing an office that works for your mental health, certain factors contribute to your mental health more than others. Focusing on ergonomics, lighting, furniture, and decor can all encourage your work-from-home space to work for you, instead of the other way around. If you’re working from home full-time, factor these principles into your office design.
How your body feels affects how your mind feels. Not only can poor ergonomics affect your productivity day-to-day, but chronic pain in the future from poor posture or arthritis can impact your long-term mental health.
Things like ergonomic office chairs, specialty keyboards, or standing desks can all promote positive mental health. If you’re curious about how to maximize your ergonomics, our remote work resources, like ergonomic coaching or remote work courses, can be invaluable.
These ergonomic changes can help to reduce conditions like “tech neck” or others that affect your musculoskeletal system. They help you to feel more comfortable in your workplace and improve your ability to be productive.
The lighting of your office space is also essential for your mental health. Gone are the days of being trapped under office LEDs that zap your productivity, so choose lights for your space that can promote mental wellness.
Having lots of natural sunlight is great for your mental health. If you can, pick a room with big windows to be your home office. Natural light is a powerful mood booster, and spending more time in sunlight is linked with reduced symptoms of depression, and lowered risk of long-term mental health conditions. If you don’t have access to the sun, using a table lamp with a full-spectrum bulb can help you emulate some of the benefits.
Choosing the right furniture is also important for having a mentally positive space, and that goes beyond just the ergonomics (although there’s a reason we put that first!). You need to consider workflow, as well as design and personal preferences.
Investing in furniture that you like and are comfortable in will make you enjoy being in your workplace more. While you should prioritize function over form, if you hate the sight of your desk chair then you’ll never want to use it. Find a balance of furniture you enjoy seeing with good ergonomics.
How you decorate your home space may seem trivial, but will change how you feel about, and consequently how you feel in, your space. Décor covers everything from the colors on the walls to any nicknacks on your desk.
Including natural elements in your workspace can reduce symptoms of mental health disorders and improve job satisfaction. This could be having a window that faces green spaces instead of urban designs, or having plants in your office space. If you don’t have a green thumb, even fake plants can trick your brain into reaping the benefits of “natural” greenery.
Prioritizing your mental health is essential whether you’re in an office every day or have been working remotely since before the pandemic. A dedicated home office space that promotes mental well-being can have a significant impact on how you feel about both your work and home lives.
EWI Works offers many services that can improve your quality of life. We have developed several cost-effective remote services to help you transition to remote work. Find out more about our Online Training, Services, and Resources.