Do you work from home? Well, you aren't alone. Over the past few decades, telecommuting has become increasingly common. Statistics show that over four in 10 Americans perform at least some of their work at home. While working from home offers numerous benefits, there's new evidence suggesting it could be bad for your mental health.
Study Links Telecommuting to Loneliness
The health insurance company Cigna released conducted a study to investigate the mental health of stay-at-home workers in the United States. What did they find exactly? Researchers found that, overall, U.S. workers today suffer from higher rates of loneliness than they did in the past. In 2019, 61% of workers said they were lonely. In 2018, 54% of workers said they were lonely.
Researchers say that one of the reasons why workers today feel more lonely than they did in the past is because of telecommuting. From small businesses to globally known and recognized Fortune 500 companies, countless businesses allow workers to telecommute. When telecommuting, workers aren't required to drive or otherwise physically commute to their business's workplace. Rather, they can work from home. Unfortunately, the rise of telecommuting has led to increasing rates of loneliness among workers.
"The trends shaping how we work – increasing use of technology, more telecommuting and the always-on work culture – are leaving Americans more stressed, less rested, spending more time on social media and less time with friends and family," said Cigna CEO David M. Cordani when discussing the study's findings.
How to Improve Your Mental Health When Telecommuting
There are several steps you take to improve your mental health when telecommuting, however. For starters, try to get into the habit of going out and socializing. Rather than eating lunch at home, for example, perhaps you can visit a local restaurant.
Another way to improve your mental health when telecommuting is to exercise. There's a strong correlation between your mental health and your physical health. If you don't exercise, your physical health will decline, and with it, so will your mental health. For a healthy body and mind, try to exercise for 75 to 150 minutes each week, which is the recommended amount of cardio exercise set by the American Heart Association (AHA).
Finally, consider holding more face-to-face meetings. It's certainly easier to communicate using email or phone, but it will restrict your social interaction, which could lead to poorer mental health when telecommuting.