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How Telecommuting Impacts Mental Health


In theory, the idea of working from home can sound like a dream come true. For one thing, it eliminates the hassle of commuting. It also can lead to increased productivity, as you may be more focused in your personal environment. But, as recent studies have shown, there could be some detriments as well; particularly when it comes to mental health.


According to a new article on the Forbes website, remote workers often struggle with anxiety, depression or even social phobias. Loneliness is also a big issue (as many as 19 percent of home workers claim to experience this), along with self-doubt (which covers 22 percent) since you may not receive regular gratification for your output.


Therapeutic consultant Dr. Amy Cirbus, PhD spoke to Forbes about this particular phenomenon, emphasizing a host of common mental health symptoms.


“Remote workers often experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at a higher rate than people commuting to traditional office spaces,” she explained. “Specifically, they report feelings of isolation and loneliness and high rates of worry about job performance and stability. Insomnia and sleep disturbance are common, along with increased fatigue, irritation, sadness and feelings of disconnection. Remote workers report a lack of concentration and focus that can compound and exacerbate these mental health challenges. It can lead to a loss of self-worth and a questioning of one’s abilities. Combined together, these symptoms can have a significant impact on job performance, job satisfaction and the efficiency of productive work.”


Those who freelance often have the added stress of looking for new work to do from home. Job projects can come and go in an instant, so the fear of unemployment and not paying bills is constantly on their minds.


There are also physical issues to address. Being on call throughout the night (for many who telecommute for international companies) can interrupt much needed sleep. Sitting in uncomfortable chairs, as opposed to something ergonomic that you would find in an office, can easily create stressors for the body and mind. And let’s not forget the addiction component, as you have much more freedom to drink and use when not in a corporate setting. So, as uncomfortable as it may sound, sometimes cubicles do have their benefits.


The keys to successfully staying out of harm’s way (per Forbes) involve building a support network of people you can physically interact with, investing in a functional home office and seeking out therapeutic services if you’re experiencing emotional struggles.