If you’re living with depression and work from home, you can support your mental health by prioritizing routines, social connections, and frequent breaks.

Working from home can have many benefits. It can give you more flexibility, it’s commute-free, and it can increase your free time.

But there are also some drawbacks to remote working, such as fewer social connections with co-workers.

If you have depression, this type of isolation can make symptoms worse. But there are a few things you can do to manage your mental health while working from home.

The link between depression and working from home is complex.

A 2020 review found some studies suggesting that working from home can improve mental health, while others report that the effect on well-being was negative.

According to a 2021 review, several aspects of working from home — such as children at home, distractions while working, and changes in exercise and diet — can decrease your mental well-being.

A 2022 review examined several studies that suggested that working from home can have some mental health benefits, such as improved well-being and reduced stress and burnout. But the review found that the link between mental health and working from home is unclear.

According to a 2021 study, whether or not working from home causes depression depends on different factors, such as:

  • colleague or manager support
  • harmony with your family or housemates
  • loneliness
  • physical activity
  • safety at work
  • sleep quality
  • social support outside of work
  • structure or routine
  • whether you dislike your job
  • workload (at work and at home)
  • work-life balance

Additionally, a 2021 study found that women were more likely to develop symptoms of depression while working from home. The research suggested that this is partly because women tend to juggle more responsibilities at home.

If you work from home and are self-employed, matters can be more complicated. Although self-employment may be enjoyable, there are also some challenges. For example, you may not have the support of an employer or manager, and if you’re a solopreneur, you might feel lonely.

Connect with others

Working from home can be isolating, especially if you have no colleagues or don’t speak to them often. Research from 2020 found that frequent communication with co-workers reduced loneliness and work-related stress for participants working from home.

For making work-related connections, you can try the following:

  • co-working groups
  • meetups for people in your industry
  • speed-networking events
  • inviting a connection out for coffee
  • meeting up with friends or colleagues over Zoom for lunch

Non-work connections are important, too. You may find that a strong social life can help you feel less lonely during the workday. This can include making new friends or committing to spending more time with your loved ones.

You could try the following:

  • joining an exercise or art class
  • keeping one weekday evening per week open for socializing
  • trying to see at least one loved one each weekend
  • running errands with loved ones
  • joining a support group for depression

Alternatively, if you’re lonely but low on social energy, try to get out into public more often. Being around people might help you feel better, even if you’re not socializing with them directly. Try libraries, coffee shops, dog parks, or gyms.

Get out of the house

Sleeping, living, and working in the same environment can be convenient but can also get monotonous. If possible, try to get out of the house once in a while, and not just to run errands.

You could try a co-working space, which can also allow you to meet others who work from home. Another (possibly more affordable) option is working in a cafe or library.

It may also be a good idea to take lunch breaks outside the house or have a post-work adventure. This could be as simple as going for a walk down the street or visiting a park.

If you need a change of scenery but can’t leave the house, try working in a different part of your house. Even turning your desk around might reinvigorate your day.

Find small pockets of joy

Although there are both pros and cons to working from home, the cons can sometimes feel overwhelming. Consciously thinking about the pros can help you feel a little less hopeless.

A 2019 study suggested that writing down what you’re grateful for may improve happiness and reduce symptoms of depression.

Try practicing gratitude by writing down aspects of your work-from-home life that you really like. Perhaps you’re grateful that you don’t need to commute or that you get to wear comfy clothes all day.

This isn’t to say that you should simply “think positive” or ignore the difficult parts of working from home. It’s important to acknowledge the challenges, but it’s also important to acknowledge the enjoyable parts.

Create a routine

While routine can sometimes feel restricting, it can also add structure to your day. Research from 2020 suggested that creating daily routines could help improve mental health. It can also help you stay productive.

Without a routine, you might find that you:

  • end up working too late
  • forget to take breaks
  • find it harder to focus

There are many methods for creating a routine. You could start by creating set times for starting work, ending work, and a lunch break.

Remember to schedule regular breaks throughout the day. This can help you stay focused at work and improve your mood and energy levels. It can also help prevent stress or burnout.

If possible, try to integrate physical activity into your routine. Research on depression and exercise suggests that physical activity can improve symptoms of depression and boost your mood.

Give yourself time to get used to your new routine, but don’t be afraid to experiment if your current schedule isn’t working for you.

Get professional help

If you have symptoms of depression, therapy can be a good first step in helping you feel better. Through therapy, you can process your feelings and learn helpful coping skills.

Other treatments for depression include self-care routines and medications, such as antidepressants. Support groups and group or family therapy may also be helpful.

Whether you think you have depression or simply need some support, you can start by finding a therapist who treats depression.

There are many pros and cons to working from home. If you have depression, there are a few steps you can take to improve your mental health while working remotely.

Research suggests that having a routine, connecting with others, and practicing gratitude can help with the symptoms of depression.

If you’d like extra support, therapy can be a worthwhile investment. Consider looking for a therapist who treats depression.