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••• The International Writers Magazine - 23 Years on-line - WFH & You

Creating A Home Office With Your Mental Health In Mind
• Indiana Lee
Make that work-life balance enhance your soul

office space at home
Pexels Photo by Elle Hughes

Though the pandemic acted as a catalyst that triggered this new working-from-home trend, remote work has actually been on the rise for years now. As new generations have entered the workforce with different priorities than previous generations, such as a better work-life balance and flexible working hours, remote work/telecommuting has become increasingly popular.

Now, after the pandemic further pushed people and companies to drastically change how they operate when it comes to their jobs, working from home has become the new normal. It is extremely common now to see a company offering flexible work hours or remote work options, as well as applicants for jobs requesting more job flexibility.

And this trend isn’t just happening because newer generations want to have a better work-life balance but also because they are prioritizing their mental health and overall well-being. A more flexible job can allow you to more easily take care of your needs to ensure you don’t become burnt out or struggle with stress and anxiety.

However, for some, working from home can feel isolating and can exacerbate mental health issues — especially if they are used to their job providing them with human connection and social interactions. So while remote work can be highly beneficial, it’s important to set yourself up for success as much as possible to avoid the negatives that can impact your mental health.

Below, we’ll dive deeper into how working from home can impact your mental health and offer some tips on how to create a home office that is more conducive to a healthier mental state.

How Working From Home Can Affect Your Mental Health

Social isolation is a major concern for many individuals that have started working from home. When you go to work, you likely come into contact with a number of people throughout the day, which provides you with that human connection that we all need. Even if you’re not a social person, it’s still important to have people to talk to and be around on a regular basis, as this stimulates the brain and keeps you from feeling lonely.

Without regular social interactions, even if they are purely work-related, you are more likely to start suffering the psychological effects of social isolation, which can include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and even physical ailments such as heart disease and high blood pressure. 

However, it isn’t just being alone and isolated while working from home that can lead to poor mental health. The environment you work in can also play a role in how you feel on a daily basis. For example, a study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine showed that those who work in an office space with windows and good natural light tend to have better mental health and sleep habits than those who work in offices that are dark and have no windows.

And it’s not just the light in your office that can affect your mental health, but the overall design and setup as well. Generally, the brighter, more organized, and comforting an office space is, the more it will help to boost your mood and even your productivity levels.

Tips for Creating a Home Office to Improve Your Mental Health

There are lots of ways you can design your space, whether you have a small home office or a large one. Technically, there is no one right way to create a home office — it’s all about your wants and needs and what works for you. But the tips below can help get you started and offer points of focus to help you design a space that is better for your mental health.

1. Create a Designated Office Space

Understandably, not everyone has an entire room available to use for their home office, but the more you can make your office feel separate from the rest of the house, the better. A designated office space is important to your mental health because it helps you separate your work life from your personal life. If you are working from your kitchen table, for example, you might have a harder time staying focused or separating a stressful work day from the rest of your day once you “clock out.”

So, even if you can’t dedicate an entire room to your home office, try at least sectioning off a corner of a room, such as your living room or anywhere else there is space. And make sure you set it up with a nice desk, a comfortable and supportive chair, and some shelves or cabinets for organization. The more you can make it look like a real office, the better, as this will help you get in the right mindset to get your work done.

2. Bring in Natural Light

As mentioned above, the lighting in your office can play a significant role in how you feel while working. So it’s important to create your home office in an area that gets good light. A basement, for example, is not a good idea if it’s mostly dark and doesn’t have big windows. If you don’t get good light in your home office and can’t move it somewhere else, at least make sure you have lamps or overhead lights that use lightbulbs that mimic natural light as much as possible.

3. Freshen Up the Space with Plants

Plants not only help clean the air in your home, but they can also help boost your mood. The fact that nature is healing is not a new concept. Lots of people make getting outside a priority for both their physical and their mental health. So it only makes sense that bringing nature indoors can help boost our mood when we have to stay inside.

Plants can also double as decor in your home office to make it feel fresher and more inviting. So go ahead and green up your space with as many plants as you’d like, but just make sure there aren’t so many that it pulls your focus or makes your office feel cluttered.

4. Choose the Right Color Palette

If you are painting your home office or choosing what color decor and furniture to use, make sure you choose a color theme or palette that suits your needs and personality. For example, some people feel better and more inspired to work when they are surrounded by brighter colors that invoke creativity, whereas others feel better in a room with muted, calming colors.

Generally, calming and relaxing colors like light blues and greens, or even just a nice bright white, are best if you aren’t sure what will work for you. These colors can help you relax and focus on your work — but not everyone likes a muted color palette. So whatever colors you choose, just make sure they boost your mood as opposed to making you feel stressed and chaotic.

Final Thoughts

Outside of designing your home office, the habits you create can also affect your mental health. If you have a high-paced career, for example, it might also benefit you to take regular breaks and focus on your own needs now and then to avoid burnout. And even if you don’t have a naturally stressful job, it’s important for you to listen to your body and give it what it needs.

If you need a break, take one. If you need some socialization, try to get out and see your friends or family. If you’re tired, get some rest. While a well-designed and organized home office can help, it’s not the only answer to improving your mental health; you also need to adopt healthy habits and behaviors as well to protect your overall well-being.

 Indiana Lee © Indiana Lee 9.8.22

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