Extreme Mental Health Makeover: Work from Home Edition

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Published: May 6, 2021

Let’s start off with a startling thought. Almost half of the workforce in the United States is working from home, or remotely, because of the sweeping pandemic that left our planet in a seemingly never-ending state of worry. Also in a state of worry, are the 1 in 4 adults who suffer from a diagnosed mental health issue while they’re working from home.

Put these two stats together and you’ve got a whole lot of people at home, anxious, depressed, and feeling isolated.

Yep, I’m one of those people. 

Hi, my name is Anxious and Working from Home! 

In light of May being mental health month, and in lieu of recent events in my life, I wanted to reach out to all of you who may be struggling each and every day. I understand it’s tough as hell to turn on the Zoom camera some days. How hard it is to not sit in bed all day and cry, to not hurt yourself, or even relapse from an addiction.

That’s what happened to my best friend, Emily. 

Emily worked in downtown Chicago and had been sober for several years. Overcoming an addiction to opiates is no joke. But she did it. Eventually, she (like many of us) had to switch to remote work

Little did we know, this would help lead her right back into the arms of a coping mechanism we all hoped she wouldn’t love again–street drugs.

She died a few weeks ago. From an overdose. But even her mom says it was the pandemic–being alone all day, working from home–that killed her. 

So if you’re like me, stuck on the couch, or in the bed reliving nightmares from your dreams last night, feeling bad about yourself professionally,  or literally vibrating from how anxious you are, I hope this helps.

And if you’re like Emily, struggling to not use, using but hiding it, or just can’t stop thinking about wanting to use, let your friends and family know. We won’t judge you. Or shame you. You’re loved. And you CAN DO THIS!

Remember, this too shall pass.

Here are # ways you can keep your mental health strong while working from home.

  1. Exercise and eat right.

  2. Continue any medical care.

  3. Create a schedule and/or routine.

  4. Set your environment up ergonomically.

  5. Be open (and honest) with yourself and others. 

  6. Practice nonjudgemental positive self-talk and/or seek a spiritual sense of being.

  7. Find a creative hobby.

  8. If you’re struggling, tell someone.

  9. Look for a therapist you’re drawn to.

  1. Exercise and eat right.

Fully believing in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, we first must take care of our bodies before we can move on to other parts of our lives. This means exercising and eating right. 

For me, I like to do yoga in the morning and aggressive inline skate whenever I can. You can do whatever feels good to you! 

Want to read more on how exercise affects our mental health? Click here.

Avoid drinking loads of caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine triggers your fight-or-flight response, sending your already anxious brain into a further frenzy. You think it’s energy, but really it’s your brain going into survival mode. Try matcha or herbal teas instead.

If you smoke cigarettes or vape, you might ditch those quick fixes as well. This one is tough; I’m an ex-cigarette smoker myself. But cigarettes only lower your vibration and kick your body into yet another stress-response mode. You don’t want that! 

Try deep breathing instead. 

  1. Continue any medical care.

You’ll want to keep taking any medicine you’ve been prescribed as well as seeing any doctors you regularly see. Again, taking care of your body is going to be a huge part of curbing added stress when working from home.

Bonus Tip: Supplements, vitamins, and minerals are a great way to naturally curb anxiety and stress. Here are some recommendations to get you started. 

  1. Create a schedule and/or routine.

Maybe you like to fly off the seat of your pants when it comes to your workday. Some days can be like that! But think of how this possibly, maybe, could affect your mental health. 

If you knew what to expect every day, or knew what time you should do  what, wouldn’t that take a lot of your daily guesswork (or rumination) out of the picture?

  1. Set your environment up ergonomically.

Countless studies and a number of companies spend a lot of time on ergonomic workspaces. Why? Because it matters. If you’ve been working on your couch or in your kitchen since the start of all this mess, you might need an ergonomic revamp. Invest in yourself by spending some money on a desk and good task chair

Distance your workspace from your leisure space, so your brain doesn’t mix the two. Find a spot that works as an office (a guest bedroom, sunroom, or area of the den), order the office supplies, and watch yourself suddenly want to work.

Don’t forget the lighting! Pull back your curtains to let in plenty of natural sunlight. You wouldn’t believe what this does to our animal brain.

  1. Be open (and honest) with yourself and others.

Sometimes, admitting defeat and that you need help is hard. I’m actually terrible at this. Ask my boyfriend, mom, and dad. 

But lately, I’ve trained my ask-for-help muscle and I must admit, it feels good to lean on loved ones. Plus, that’s what your family and friends are there for. To help.

So if you are struggling, tell someone you trust and have love towards. But even before then, you have to be open enough with yourself to admit you’re struggling. F*** what anyone else thinks about you or your situation. You’ve only got one life.

If Emily would have admitted she was struggling with her drug use again, maybe she’d have gotten to visit me in California, like we had planned the week she overdosed.

  1. Practice nonjudgemental positive self-talk and/or seek a spiritual sense of being.

If I had to pick one thing on this list that helped me the most, it’d be finding a sense of spirituality

In 2013, I began what some call a spiritual journey. This was after my height of anxiety and nightmares. I was a hypervigilant, nightmare having, open-knife carrying, college bartender who thought everyone was out to kill her. 

Yup. That was me.

Then I found my spiritual self. Through that, came a lot of other great things like learning how to talk to myself in a non-judgemental way. Sure, I suck sometimes. We all do. We’re human. 

But we can’t judge ourselves for it nor can we continually be our own worst fan. Again, we’re human. We’re finicky and have all sorts of emotions. 

When you feel your self-talk turn negative, try to remember what positive things people have said about you in previous projects or jobs. Or anything you love about yourself. 

I’ll go first. 

I love myself because I have good jokes, am both book smart and street savvy, and a rapid learner. Plus, people respect me as a team leader. Which makes me think I’ve got something worth working towards!

  1. Find a creative hobby.

Some theorists believe creative activities spark a reaction in our souls. That through our preferred creative outlet, we speak an ancient, native language. Through this connection with your highest self, comes a sense of purpose. Of being.

When you’re creating, there seems to be a wave of calm that surrounds you. It’s your way of expression, a way to get everything out. 

So get creative, people!

  1. If you’re struggling, tell someone.

No one can do it all. We’re born into families and have circles of support for a reason. As ancient humans, we needed to rely on each other for food and survival. 

Now in modern times, our need for survival might be calling our friends and family to tell them, “I’m not doing too good over here.” 

  1. Look for a therapist you’re drawn to.

If you’re anti-therapist, you can move along. 

But I went to therapy for quite some time! I’ve done out-patient treatments, group, and individual sessions. I love me some therapy.

But it took me a while to find the right match. So if you’re looking for someone to talk to, it’s okay to date around and find someone that you’re drawn to.

Therapy can be a really great way to repave some road maps in your head that are filled with dark, angry potholes. Plus, they’ll provide unique ways to manage stress tailored to your situation.

You don’t have to do this alone; there are ways to deal with the stress of working from home.

And now you know a few ways to manage your mental health while doing remote work. Sure there are some amazing benefits of WFH life(coming on the blog soon, subscribe for updates!), but it can be super tough, too.

If you need a little reminder to hang by your desk, download a FREE work from home playbook that will help keep you in check when you’re feeling super distracted. 

Cheers!

Don’t forget to follow along on my Instagram where I share business tips, personal struggles, and other fun announcements! 

Need a virtual assistant to help keep your remote work life together? I’m accepting new clients until the end of May.

If you enjoyed this, let me know or share it with a friend!
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Carrie Jean is a Midwestener-turned-Californian front-of-house veteran with over 12 years in the restaurant industry. Now she writes about mindset, jobs, dogs, and how to manage all three. In addition to writing, she offers virtual assistance and vocal talent. Fun Fact: She loves Abe Lincoln.

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