Working From Home is Harder Than You Think…Especially if You’re Single

Many people now working remotely are struggling with distractions, diversions, and minor disasters with children, pets, and partners running circles around your “office” all day long. This is certainly a challenging environment to get work done efficiently and effectively…and on time.

But other people now working remotely are struggling with a totally different kind of challenge. They are learning to cope with loneliness. Extreme loneliness.

This type of environment, just being alone for a while, may seem like a spa day for some of us, but it can be completely debilitating for others – those who get their only human interaction by commuting to work, sharing the break room microwave, joining others for afternoon coffee/tea, or even just seeing others pass by their desk or office.

Now those interpersonal luxuries are gone, with no replacements available.

There’s a reason solitary confinement is an
effective punishment in prisons.
It breaks you down.

So, what’s to be done for those living by themselves?

There are scores of articles for workers dealing with rambunctious multi-person households and loads of tips for managers to be more understanding to the need for connection.

But what if your boss isn’t implementing these communication/connection techniques? And what if your home isn’t filled with screaming, climbing, nagging rarely sleeping little humans to keep you company?

What then?

Sadly, there is little work being done to help the folks on the single side of the remote work challenge. So, I am here to help.

First, some facts.

From the personal side, loneliness contributes to physical and mental health issues, including anxiety, stress, as well as overall lethargy and apathy. In fact, loneliness can increase the rates of early death and general mortality by up to 32 percent.

On the business side, loneliness leads to lower engagement, lower productivity, and lower levels of loyalty and reliability, while increasing the rate of turnover.

None of that sounds hopeful for those in need of a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold, or a voice to listen to.

But there is hope.
You can find it just below.

Now that we are sobered up from those depressing statistics, let’s look at 17 (it’s actually more like 28) ways to reduce feelings of depression and increase feelings of connection to nature, to others, and to ourselves.

GET CHATTY

  • Make a phone call (texting is nice, but true connection happens by hearing a loved one’s voice)
  • Get visual with it (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp)
  • Set up group meetings (virtual book club, virtual cocktail party, watch a movie “together”)
  • Get dressed up for your virtual get-togethers (theme night!, 80s, Hawaiian, black tie, you get the idea)

EXPAND YOUR HORIZONS

  • Learn a new skill (cut your own hair, play an instrument, how to moonwalk)
  • Learn a language (Rosetta Stone is probably hammering you with emails)
  • Read a book you normally wouldn’t (like law and order, try historical novel; like romance, try fantasy)
  • Bake something that smells delicious (banana bread, rustic loaf, herby focaccia, pizza)
  • Doodle or sketch (set up some fruit or flowers or look outside and find your inner Van Gogh, Matisse, or Picasso)

DESIGN YOUR DAY

  • Schedule routines to keep you focused (otherwise the days just drag and linger)
  • Work in different parts of your home at different times of the day (dining room, living room, porch or patio)
  • Set aside time to get physical (cardio, calisthenics, isometrics)
  • Take time for self-care (yoga, meditation, focused breathing)
  • Get outside – you need vitamin D (gardening, walk around the block, watch the sun set)

SEIZE THE OPPORTUNITIES

  • Set some goals to achieve in the next 12-24 months (learn skill, lose weight, get promotion)
  • Brainstorm ideas for how to accomplish these goals (make it fun with colored markers and sticky notes)
  • Clean out your closet (thank your clothes for their service and make some space)
  • Remember to practice gratitude (each morning think of three things or people you are grateful for)

Ok, single ladies and gentlemen, no more excuses. Now you have plenty of tips, tools, and techniques to make working from home a little more bearable and a lot more productive while improving your mind, body, and spirit.

Your Mindful Moment:

If you want to get yourself out of a funk, reach out and make someone else smile. You’ll be surprised at the effect it has on you!

Bonus Material

If you’re in the mood for some personal, though not necessarily fun, tech activities, consider these two tips to keep you safe and get you more oraganized:*

  1. Change your passwords on all of your accounts (especially the one you use all the time, you know, your “main” password)
  2. Clean up your email inbox (delete, archive, or act on those old items and try to get to zero)

*Tech contribution from Emine Dekkar. Thank you, Emine!

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