There has been a lot of press about the physical and even economic impact of COVID. Every day, we hear about deaths and hospitalizations. At the same time, our social media feeds have been inundated with stories of shortages and supply chain disruptions.
But what about the mental aspect? Unfortunately, that has often taken a back seat. But it’s an important question, especially as the economy surges towards making hybrid working models permanent.
The growing work-at-home trend might seem like a win for worker autonomy and schedule flexibility. However, it could contain a hidden dark side. Along with obvious upsides, the isolation that accompanies the COVID shutdowns could become an ongoing part of the working lives of millions of Americans.
With that in mind, it’s important to look at the mental health consequences of COVID-19. From there, we can apply lessons learned from the pandemic to guard against added anxiety in the post-COVID world.
The Pandemic’s Toll on Mental Health
The COVID lockdowns triggered a wave of mental health problems throughout the country. During the depths of the pandemic, a survey published by the Centers for Disease Control showed that 40% of U.S. adults reported issues related to mental health or substance abuse.
These problems went beyond simple anxiety or even depression. Frighteningly, the results of these mental-health pressures created life-threatening problems in a chillingly large number of people. For example, the CDC figures also showed that 13% of survey participants said they started or increased their use of drugs or alcohol during the pandemic. Meanwhile, about one in nine (11%) said they seriously considered suicide.
As we move into the post-pandemic world, it’s important to keep these figures in mind. Hybrid schedules bring many benefits. But they also present challenges many workers haven’t had to deal with yet in their careers, especially when it comes to mental health.
How to Protect Mental Health in a Work-at-Home Environment
Given the dire consequences that unchecked mental-health problems can cause, it’s crucial to guard against the stress and isolation that can accompany a work-at-home schedule. Dealing with the situation effectively can help you avoid:
- Physical symptoms (headaches, lethargy, etc.)
- Increased substance abuse risk
- Suicidal thoughts
But how do you accomplish this? What steps can you take to protect your mental health when you’re working at home? Here are a few tips to follow:
Don’t let mental-health problems fester. If you can recognize a deteriorating situation, you can take steps to sidestep serious consequences. Here are a few signs to keep in mind:
- Increased Moodiness
- Lack of Motivation
- Trouble Sleeping
- Heightened Anxiety
- Headaches or Other Physical Symptoms
If you notice a negative turn in your mental health, take steps to alleviate workplace stress. This could include a vacation or requesting a change in schedule. Talk to your supervisor to consider strategies to avoid burnout.
Ask for Help
Don’t try to face mental health problems alone. Instead, find support in those around you. This can take many forms:
- Your Employer: Mental health discussions are becoming less taboo in modern work environments. At the very least, see if you can make changes to your schedule and workload to reduce stress.
- Your Friends and Family: Sometimes, a sympathetic ear is all you need. Venting about your work stress can reduce the toll on your mental health.
- A Professional: Some issues go beyond conversations with the people around you. In these situations, a mental health professional can provide the help you need to improve.
Find the Ideal Job for You
Guarding your mental health gets easier when you have the perfect work situation. By finding a good match with an employer, you stay engaged without experiencing undue stress. As a result, you can face the other challenges of COVID with confidence in your professional situation.
To find your ideal role, turn to a top staffing agency, like SmartTalent. They can find the optimal situation for you.
Contact SmartTalent today to learn more.