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Mental health pros and cons of working from home

Go to the office or stay at home to work? Which is best for our mental health? Find out what a psychotherapist thinks.

Photo: © Digital Journal
Photo: © Digital Journal

As the rate of COVID-19 cases has begun to decrease in the U.S. and the number of vaccinated individuals continues to rise, many U.S. workers are heading back into the office.

Some of these workers are excited to get back into the hustle and bustle of an office environment, whereas others are quite hesitant.

June 24th is ‘National Work From Home Day‘ (a new event to the U.S. calendar). Over this last year many people made the switch from working in the office to working from home, but is this a healthy change?

Dr. Teralyn Sell, psychotherapist explains to Digital Journal about how working from home impacts mental health in different ways for people.

According to Sell: “For some people working from home has been significantly better for their mental health, while for others, it may be worse. It’s likely not a fair estimate to state that solely working from home is bad for mental health, especially because the last year has been anything but typical.”

This means, says Sell, it is “likely that the combination of working from home, lack of any social interaction and immense isolation is the trifecta of poor mental health. Taking the pandemic away, however, most people say that their mental health is improved while working from home. They are able to spend more time with their family and less time on a commute to and from work fighting traffic and deadlines.”

To offer some advice, Dr. Sell’s top sets out three things to be aware of when considering the benefits and drawbacks of working from home.

#1: PRO – Less time commuting means more time for yourself and with family

The one thing that we wish we had more of is time. If you work from home and establish good work and life boundaries you can easily have more built in time to spend with your family. If you aren’t battling traffic jams you may have more time to eat a good meal or even to put your kids to bed without evening chaos. Additionally, you might be able to squeeze in some extra time for exercise. Going for a walk during the day just got easier.

#2: PRO – Less stress and more self care

The amount of stress we are under due to working late, office politics and more is certainly mitigated while working from home. A less stressful work environment can create more productivity in less time. This means there is time for more self-care strategies during the work day and around the work day. Just think, you could be on a conference call while doing yoga!

#3: CON – Structure and routine can become problematic

For many people the problems with routine and structure became something that wasn’t necessarily a positive thing. Because you don’t have to wake up early or worry about hygiene or even getting out of pajamas, your sense of worth can take a toll. Some people talk about how they roll out of bed and log on to work never changing their clothes or even showering. Our brain loves knowing what comes next and thrives on routine. Even the slightest change in our hygiene routines can often precipitate depressive thoughts and feelings.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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