Feeling lonely while working from home
During the pandemic, the number of us working from home skyrocketed. For some of us, this change became permanent and the new normal. Whether it’s a couple of days a week or every day, many of us are still working from home and experiencing the isolation that can come with it.
Evie, 30, from rural Norfolk, shared her experience of loneliness with us, and what she has found helpful to keep more connected.
For the last 3 and a half years I’ve worked from home. First, as an Executive Assistant, and recently as an Associate Consultant for an online learning development solution company.
I had worked from home before the pandemic, but I also ran a street food business that got me out and about a lot, helping me to see friends and feel connected. If anything, it felt like I never had time to be alone! I had just left a career in the hospitality industry where I was working with lots of people and actually began to crave having my own space.
I didn’t mind when lockdown hit as I had my partner at home which I loved. It was actually when everything started to go back to ‘normal’ that I began to struggle. A lot of my close friends live really far away, and many of my mates locally had big changes in their life over the pandemic years so we all sort of ‘got too busy’ to see each other as regularly as we used to.
My partner returned to working long hours in hospitality and I started to realise how quiet everything was and how empty my days felt.
With my partner returning to their job outside of home, I was suddenly home alone for long periods of time. Having experienced anxiety and depression in the past, I was soon aware that the isolation was negatively impacting my mental health, causing to feelings of anxiety and depression. Despite having an amazing partner, a wonderful family and a good network of friends who I saw regularly, I would still sit there sometimes, staring out the window and feeling sad. I felt trapped, and became worried it would be seen as spoilt or attention seeking to feel this way, as I had a great lifestyle and a lovely home office which I knew many others didn’t have.
I still have days where I wake up and think ‘ah – here we go again’, not helped by the silence of the house where all you can hear is the noise inside your head. There’s no small talk about the weather or a colleague asking if you’d like a coffee when you’re working from home.
I felt this sense of loneliness and often felt guilty when I had people around me, but still felt alone.
I’m still trying to figure out ways to manage feeling lonely, and there’s days where I still struggle with motivation. I find listening to the radio helpful, hearing the same voices and listening to them interact with listeners makes me feel like I’m around colleagues. I have also joined a martial arts club which I adore! It’s the highlight of my week, and it allows me to meet other people, work as a team, and just get outside my house for a bit.
I also made the effort to reconnect with friends, including someone who does a similar job role to me, which helped me feel less alone, having someone to talk to who can relate to my situation. As a Buddhist, I meditate daily, exercise and eat well, all which help support my wellbeing. I’m learning every day new ways to tackle loneliness at home, and I like to stay optimistic. I enjoy my job and the freedom it gives me, and returning to an office, or wearing a uniform every day doesn’t appeal to me. I’m slowly making lifestyle changes to feel less isolated and enjoy the benefits of homeworking.
I’d like people to understand that they’re not spoilt if they have a good homeworking set up but still feel down.
I’d like those that don’t work at home, but have friends or loved ones that do, to check in with them and show interest in what they do, taking time to learn more. I would also say make sure that you find and connect with people who do the same type of role or who also work from home – it reminds you that you’re in good company, even virtually!
Sharing your work experiences can never be underestimated, so be sure to actively seek those that you can connect with in some capacity, and discuss the benefits and disadvantages of homeworking with people that understand.
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