An increasing number of those in the workforce who have adopted work-from-home arrangements, during the COVID-19 pandemic, have reported decreased mental wellbeing, and higher stress levels.

Causes of decreased mental wellbeing

The reported decrease in mental wellbeing is attributed to isolation, burnout, and increased substance-use associated with those who have extended work-from-home arrangements. Workers tend to feel isolated due to lack of daily interactions with colleagues, losing the sense of community and accomplishing shared goals daily1.

The absence of prescribed daily working hours for remote workers, where the work and personal spaces are blurred, meant that employees are now forced to work longer hours; from answering emails and phone calls early in the morning to late at night.

Short to long term effects

The most common effects of decrease in mental wellbeing are insomnia, anxiety, and in severe cases, may even lead to depression. As workers experience stressors at work, the tendency to repeat the situations over and over mentally, without speaking to anyone can lead to a challenges getting quality sleep.

Anxiety, or frequent feelings of fear or terror about what is to come when facing daily activities2, may also be brought upon by excessive work stress. When an individual experiences a long term decrease in mental wellbeing, losses interest in daily activities, and hopelessness about the future are telltale signs of depression.

Other symptoms of depression include poor concentration, feelings of excessive guilt or low self-worth, unexpected changes in appetite or weight, and low energy3.

Paying attention if you are showing signs of such symptoms can assist with identifying when work stress is starting to affect your mental wellbeing, of your loved ones and those around you.

Finally, as most jobs involve some level of stress, understand that it is normal to feel work-based stress once in a while from work, but it is important to recognize when this stress becomes excessive and ongoing, diminishing your ability to cope.

Here are a few tips for staying mentally healthy:

  • Reach out to a colleague you trust
  • Spend more time with family and friends
  • Talk about and express your feelings
  • Keep active and eat well
  • Develop new skills and challenge yourself
  • Relax and enjoy your hobbies4
  • Check if your employer offers an assistance program, or counselling service
  • Talk to a GP about mental health concerns

If you need further assistance managing your mental health, Sonic HealthPlus has Psychologist Services available to help you. Our psychologists are medical specialists who have specific expertise and knowledge of the workplace.

They understand the demands of specific jobs and the associated health risks, which may impact on an individual’s ability to meet the requirement of a particular job. Our team are able to assess how medical conditions, diseases, illnesses and injuries may affect an individual’s ability to function both at work and in normal daily activities.

If you are a corporate client, Sonic HealthPlus offers Health and Wellbeing assessments and seminars to assist you. To find out more about Sonic HealthPlus Psychologist Services or to obtain a quote, click here.

References

[1] Forbes. (2020). When Home Becomes The Workplace: Mental Health And Remote Work

[2] Healthline. (2018). Everything You Need to Know About Anxiety

[3] World Health Organization. (2021). Depression.

[4] Beyond Blue. (2021). Reducing stress.

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