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Loneliness Working from Home: 4 Simple Ways to Fight It

A woman hugs herself as she fights loneliness working from home

Overview

Loneliness is a silent killer. 

It creeps up on you like a bugcrouching by your bed, lurking in your bathroom, or attached to your email. Sometimes it even animates your phone screen and hides between the lines in your text messages. You can sense it. And its presence leaves you feeling empty, anxious, depressed, and isolated.

 

 

Recent research from Cigna shows that these unpleasant feelings have persisted post-pandemic, even as we slowly regain some sense of normalcy. So why is the subject of loneliness working from home still taboo?

Loneliness Working from Home: The Data

According to the research referenced above, 58 percent of US adults are considered lonely today. These numbers remain consistent with pre-pandemic data: 61 percent of adults reported experiencing loneliness in 2019, up from 54 percent in 2018.

This persistent rise in loneliness has coincided with a nationwide increase in remote work. The number of remote workers initially exploded in 2020 with the coronavirus pandemic and the isolation that followed. But the remote work trend hasn’t gone away—and neither has the loneliness epidemic.

The Lonely Life of a Remote Worker

You might imagine remote workers as homebodies who rarely venture into the outside world. But people who work from home aren’t all recluses.

Woman working from home alone

Working from Home: The Upside

The biggest upside of working from home is the freedom that accompanies it—especially when it comes to your own time. Remote setups allow you to be anywhere—and work anywhere—at any time, depending on the schedule you create.

In fact, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a large class of remote workers began calling themselves “digital nomads.” They took pride in their ability to work from anywhere in the worldpreferably while nursing a beverage in a hammock. In short, these digital nomads led a pretty well-balanced life.

 

Loneliness with Isolation

Unfortunately, social distancing rules and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic forced even the most adventurous remote workers to stay inside. Working alone was nothing new for them, but indoor isolation increased feelings of loneliness for many.

And with loneliness, other issues arise: reclusiveness, depression, and loss of self-confidence, to name a few. Other common symptoms include fear of rejection, decreased productivity, and increased stress.

You see, without human interaction and time spent outdoors, coping becomes challenging—and our mental health is at stake. Because isolation is fine in short intervals, but at the end of the day? No (hu)man is an island.

Loneliness can be hard to get overbut it can also be difficult to avoid. So how can we fend off these feelings in a proactive way? To fight loneliness, you’ll need to let down your guard, allow yourself to be fully present, and connect with others. 

Below, we share four simple ways to fight loneliness working from home. Keep reading to learn more!

 

4 Simple Ways to Fight Loneliness Working from Home

Ready to learn some simple, common-sense ways to fight loneliness? Let’s dive in!

1. Establish a Routine (But Keep It Fresh)

Here’s a good rule of thumb for employees who work from home: establish a routine!

Don’t jump out of bed and immediately start work, as this can disorient you—and even set the tone of your day. Instead, allow yourself time to shift into gear and prepare for the day with a morning routine. That might mean coffee, mindfulness meditation, a few minutes of journaling, or a quick sweat session—whatever makes you calm and happy.

cooking breakfast in the morning before starting working from home

But don’t forget to break from your routine occasionally to mix it up and keep things fresh. This can be something as simple as taking a left turn instead of a right one on your usual grocery run. New experiences fire dopamine in your brain, which explains why curiosity functions as an antidepressant. So, cultivate novelty and curiosity within your routine—and you’ll beat loneliness at its own game.

2. Join Virtual Communities for Real Benefits

No matter the benefits of working from home, you’ll still need to offset the sense of isolation that comes with the lack of in-person interaction.

Fortunately, virtual communities offer an accessible and effective way to reduce loneliness in a remote work situation.

connecting with friends and coworkers through social media

Virtual communities exist in every corner of the internet, from social media accounts and blogs to brands, collectives, and shared stories from friends. You can participate in any of these online communities at your leisure—or as frequently as you’d like. The content is virtually endless!

You should be able to find various types of online communities in your area for special interests, hobbies, and discussions. Some may charge a membership fee to join, but many free options exist as well. Finding an online community that suits your lifestyle and needs is one of the best ways to fight loneliness working from home. 

3. Don't Isolate—Communicate!

Feelings of loneliness and isolation are detrimental to our self-esteem and sense of self-worth. And in a vicious cycle, those of us who tend to get depressed, anxious, and pessimistic are also more likely to isolate ourselves in the workplace.

So if you catch yourself isolating, stop—and communicate instead! You don’t even have to leave the house to do it. Dozens of tech devices can connect you with your nearest and dearest at the click of a button.

Grandpa having a video chat with his family during isolation

Besides, the very nature of work means that people often need to communicate with others to stay motivated. So don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues, as even a short conversation can go a long way in spreading joy at work.

4. Remember: Social Media Isn't Always Social

This may seem counterintuitive, but staying away from social media can actually reduce feelings of loneliness. According to recent research, 7 out of 10 “heavy” social media users report feeling lonely. By contrast, just 52 percent of “light” social media users identify as lonely.

taking a picture of food and posting it on social media

The degree of loneliness you experience from social media depends highly on how you use it. The more you use networks like Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok to replace physical connection, for example, the greater the chance you’ll experience self-inflicted loneliness. We imperfect humans also have a tendency to compare ourselves with our peers on social media.

If you benefit from sharing bits and pieces of your personal life with friends on social media then, by all means, continue to do so. Just remember to detach every now and then. Make time to focus on tangible hobbies like cooking, reading, music, or working out. A break from social media allows you to clear your mind and create space for learning new things.

Wrapping Up: Not Only The Lonely

Occasional feelings of loneliness while working from home are nearly impossible to avoid. However, the loneliness prevention tips above can make your home office feel, well, a little less isolated.

Opening lines of communication, establishing a routine, and taking your eyes off of your phone are just a few ways to ease loneliness. For more helpful insights and work-related advice, visit the Lensa blog today.

Fit girl teaching yoga online during quarantine
Team Lensa
Team Lensa
Team Lensa is a group of HR specialists, career counselors, and tech enthusiasts dedicated to helping job seekers navigate the employment landscape through actionable tips and insights.

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