How To Cope With Loneliness If You Work Remotely, According To Experts
In these modern times, so many people can work from anywhere if they have a computer and a connection the internet. That means a coffee shop in Berlin, your bed while still in a robe, in a co-working space, or on a beach. It affords a certain amount of liberation to be able to do so! But a downside to all that independence — getting lonely working from home. Feeling a little like a hermit. Perhaps having a day or two where the only person you talk to is that teenaged barista who rarely, if ever, gets your order right. But if you plan ways to combat this potential side effect, you'll be just fine.
"At times, circumstances or situations, like working at home or primarily being alone without human connection or interaction, can create or exacerbate symptoms of depression or loneliness," therapist Dea Dean tells Bustle. If you're inside a lot and working independently from others, there is indeed a possibility for it to cause a drain in your energy and your desire to get out and share the air with other humans. "Unfortunately, those feelings or symptoms can in turn decrease energy or motivation to do the very things that could alleviate the symptoms, like getting out of the house or making plans to spend time with other people."
It’s important to break this cycle and be intentional and mindful about practicing self care, Dean says. Although we cannot always control the situations we’re in, we can recognize the power and options we do have to help ourselves to cope and grow.
"Consider connecting with others as part of your job," Dean says. "Choose to reinforce the belief that meeting with friends, being social, and engaging in hobbies or areas of interest, is a crucial part of being healthy enough to do your job well, and ensure your longevity in your career."
When we are stressed with work, it can be easy to think connecting with others is frivolous or the first things to cut out, Dean says. Not the case! Connection and time to simply be and enjoy yourself is absolutely vital. "These moments of connection are the very things that stave off burnout, reinvigorate our productivity and decrease negative emotions that bog us down," Dean says.
And even if you are happy to work from home, it can take a little while to have it be your norm,
"Working remotely takes time to get used to," Eleni Cotsis, talent acquisitions and remote experience manager for ALICE, a company that is 70% remote, tells Bustle. "It can be a great way to be more productive and efficient in your work, as there can be less distractions from co-workers in an office and it can be easier to focus on your work."
"I always suggest having an office 'set up' in your house — a dedicated space, even if it's just a desk or a part of the house, that is only used for work. It can make it easier to stay focused and feel 'at work,'" Cotsis says. But working remotely is not for everyone, there are some people who thrive in an office environment, or around others.
"If you don't want to work 100% on your own, switch up your schedule and work from a coffee shop or co-working space," Cotsis says. "Co-working spaces can be great to meet other professionals and have that social component of an office."
Also, definitely make sure you have activities outside of work planned and make a schedule. Along with making a point to see and be in contact with friends and family, attending meet-ups or other networking events helps bring in a social aspect to professional life that may be missing when you don't share an office with co-workers.
Financial therapist Lindsay Bryan-Podvin, LMSW, who works with clients primarily around issues of money and business, tells Bustle that another thing to keep in mind is how to organize your time and work-life boundaries.
"Humans are creatures of habit, and we do best with routines. Even if you work from home, create a method to help differentiate your work time from your time," Bryan-Podvin says. "For example, you roughly work from 10am-4pm, maybe Mondays are your Skype calls, and Tuesday to Thursday are your project-based days, and Fridays are for networking and batching content."
Of course there are days this will have to shift and change, but making that the exception rather than the rule helps, Bryan Podvin says. Keeping yourself attached to routine makes it a lot easier to have clear boundaries around your time and keep focused on the task at hand.
But again, do not underestimate the power of seeing people IRL when your workday is done. Even if you feel like your DM's and FaceTimes count — being able to see someone in the flesh? Well, there's no substitution.