Can Working from Home Negatively Impact Your Mental Health?

Before COVID-19, working from home sounded like a crazy dream for many of us. Getting paid to sit in your house? Yes, please! In just three short years, remote work has become the new norm for millions of individuals around the world… and it hasn’t turned out to be quite the fantasy some of us imagined.

While working from home offers various advantages, such as increased flexibility, zero commute time, and the ability to wear sweatpants to work, it may be impacting our mental health more than we realize. It may not directly cause depression, but it can create a combination of circumstances that make depression much more likely to develop.

How working from home can take a toll on your mental health

Isolation and Loneliness:

One of the key challenges associated with working remotely is the increased risk of isolation and loneliness. The absence of in-person interactions such as lunches together, talk around the water cooler, and incidental workplace conversations can have a significant impact on mental health. Studies have found that social isolation negatively affects job performance, satisfaction, and mental health. Additionally, prolonged periods of isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and depression, which can further worsen mental health issues.

Blurring of Boundaries:

Working from home often blurs the line between personal and professional life. When your conference room is your kitchen, it becomes second nature to sit down at your laptop and knock out a few more to-do list items if you have a free moment. The absence of clear boundaries can result in longer working hours, difficulty disconnecting from work-related stressors, and an inability to engage in adequate self-care. This increases the risk of burnout and negatively impacts mental well-being.

Reduced Work-Life Balance:

Contrary to popular belief, working from home does not necessarily guarantee an improved work-life balance. The flexibility that remote work provides may lead to an "always-on" mentality, making it harder to switch off from work-related tasks. A study conducted by Buffer found that 22% of remote workers struggle with unplugging from work, leading to increased stress levels and reduced overall satisfaction with work-life balance.

Lack of Social Support:

Interactions with colleagues and supervisors play a crucial role in providing social support in the workplace. Working from home can limit such opportunities, leading to a decline in social support networks. One study published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology (Shimazu et al., 2020) found that remote workers reported lower levels of social support and higher levels of psychological distress compared to their office-based counterparts.

Technostress and Overload:

Remote work often relies heavily on technology, which can contribute to technostress (a term coined to describe the stress and anxiety that can arise from constant connectivity to digital devices), which leads to cognitive overload. This excessive use of technology and the constant need to be available for work-related matters can lead to increased stress and anxiety and decreased job satisfaction.

How to Avoid Depression When Working from Home

All of the factors listed above can create a “perfect storm” that sets the scene for depression. However, there are several steps you can take to protect your mental well-being and avoid falling into a depressive state. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

Don't Isolate Yourself:

The absence of regular social interactions can be a major factor in feeling isolated and lonely while working from home. To combat this, make an effort to maintain connections with your colleagues. Schedule occasional Zoom calls or virtual meetings to catch up, collaborate, and foster a sense of camaraderie. Additionally, ensure that you have a healthy social life outside of work hours by engaging in activities that allow you to interact with friends, family, or local communities.

Mix Up Your Routine:

Working from the same location every day can become monotonous and contribute to feelings of stagnation. To combat this, consider changing your work environment occasionally. Work from a coffee shop or a co-working space a few days a week, or find a public space with Wi-Fi where you can spend a few hours working. Altering your surroundings can bring freshness and a renewed sense of motivation to your workday.

Take Breaks:

It's easy to neglect breaks when working from home, particularly if you have a flexible schedule or other responsibilities competing for your attention. However, taking regular breaks is crucial for maintaining productivity and protecting your mental health. Use your break time to recharge, have a healthy meal, go for a walk, enjoy a cup of coffee, or simply have some personal time for relaxation and self-care. Remember, breaks are essential for your overall well-being and can enhance your focus when you return to work.

Go On Walks:

Physical activity plays a vital role in improving mood and reducing the risk of depression. Incorporate regular walks into your daily routine to break up the day and boost your overall well-being. Taking a brisk walk every few hours not only provides a change of scenery, but also promotes physical fitness and can increase social interaction if you encounter people during your walks.

Separate Home from Work:

Establishing clear boundaries between your work life and personal life is crucial to avoid becoming overwhelmed and depressed while working from home. Designate a specific location in your home as your workspace, such as a dedicated home office or a designated desk. Once you have completed your work for the day, resist the urge to check work-related emails or engage in work-related tasks until you're back on the clock. This separation helps maintain a healthy work-life balance and prevents work from encroaching on your personal time.

Take Off When Sick

Just because you are already at home does not mean you should neglect self-care or push through when you're sick! Prioritize your well-being and take the necessary time off to rest and recuperate.

Everyone's experience with working from home and its impact on their mental health is unique. It's essential to pay attention to your mental state, be honest about your needs, and seek support when needed. By implementing these strategies and being proactive in caring for your mental well-being, you can create a positive and fulfilling work-from-home experience.

Get help for depression in CA & NV

If you find yourself struggling with working from home and are experiencing symptoms of depression, don't hesitate to reach out for support. Start by communicating your concerns with your manager or HR representative to explore possible solutions, such as a hybrid work arrangement that includes some office days. You should also get support from a mental health professional. They can provide valuable resources and strategies to help you navigate the challenges of working from home and help you create the best environment for your mental health.

If you are a resident of California or Nevada, Medens Health can connect you with a caring professional to give you the support you need! We offer both in-person and virtual appointments. Reach out to us by phone or text at (833) 624-5400, send us a message using our online contact form, or to register as a new patient get started here.


The information provided in this blog is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Reliance on any information provided in this blog is solely at your own risk. Always seek the advice of your physician or a qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding your medical or mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who is qualified to give you safe, professional, and ethical advice regarding your mental health.

If you or someone you are responsible for is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should call 9-1-1 and/or take them to the nearest emergency room.