8 Tips to Handle the Stress of Working From Home

Woman sitting at desk working in home office.

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Working from home can definitely be appealing—no dress code, no in-person supervision, no commute time, and the freedom to decide where you work. However, working remotely can present some significant and unique challenges. Utilize helpful tips to reduce your work-associated stress and set yourself up to effectively work at home.

On May 19, 2022, Verywell Mind hosted a virtual Mental Health in the Workplace webinar, hosted by Editor-in-Chief Amy Morin, LCSW. If you missed it, check out this recap to learn ways to foster supportive work environments and helpful strategies to improve your well-being on the job.

What Is Stressful About Working at Home?

Some people are surprised by the stress they feel once the novelty of working from home wears off and challenges become more apparent. While these stressors may not be the same as long commute times or the feeling of never being alone, they can still take a toll.

According to research, those who work from home tend to report high levels of stress.

  • 41% of employees who more often worked from home vs. on-site considered themselves highly stressed, compared to 25% of those who worked only on-site.
  • 42% of those who work from home report frequent night waking, while only 29% of office workers reported the same.
  • Employees who work from home may experience more of a blur when it comes to work and personal life boundaries, especially with the use of smart devices.
  • Work-from-home employees may struggle more with the concept of unplugging and ending their work day compared to those who work in an office setting.

Here are some of the common sources of stress that many work-at-homers face.

Lack of Structure

When working from home, you may feel a true lack of structure. You may struggle with getting your day going, officially ending your day, and taking time for yourself for breaks and lunch. This can throw off your work-life balance.

Too Many Distractions

When working from home, you may experience distractions and interruptions throughout your day. Some distractions may include:

  • Receiving deliveries
  • Getting non-work related calls and texts
  • Spending time on social media
  • Watching television
  • Caring for pets
  • Dealing with neighborhood sounds (gardeners, trash trucks, etc.)

At home, you have creature comforts that can be tempting to indulge in. For instance, if you have a discouraging interaction with a client or management, in an office setting you just have to roll with it and get on with your workday. If you work from home, you can actually withdraw and go play video games until you feel better.

Working From Home When You're a Parent

You may also experience challenges working from home if you have children. Depending on their age, you may need to deal with childcare, working around their school schedule, and generally balancing your work and family life.

Difficulty Setting Boundaries

When working from home, you may experience challenges setting boundaries with people who forget that working from home is still working. Family members, friends, and neighbors may ask you for help or to engage with them during your working hours. You may even experience some frustration on their end if you note that you are unavailable.

Social Isolation

Those who work at home may find that solitude can be a double-edged sword. Research suggests that social isolation can impact motivation in the workplace. This means that it can be beneficial to have some level of social interaction during the workday, especially in high-intensity work situations where productivity trends downward the more isolated an individual is.

Less Physical Exertion

When working from home, you may find yourself getting less exercise than you would in an office setting. Lack of exercise can impact your sleep quality and overall mental health. If you're less active during the day, you might not be as tired at night. You may have trouble sleeping and your work may suffer the next day.

Tips for Managing the Stress of Working at Home

Know that if you are working from home and feel intense pressure, you are not alone. There are many tools available for managing the stress associated with working from home. Here are some strategies for reducing your overall stress.

Create a Routine

Whether you set your own schedule or have specific hours that you need to be working, creating a routine can help you manage your time and focus better on your work.

  • Create a ritual that marks the beginning of your day: This may include taking a walk before you start working, taking a few moments to stretch, and/or enjoying a coffee or tea at the start of your day.
  • Mark the end of your work day: This may include putting your work material away and out of sight, taking an evening walk, and/or lighting a candle.
  • Set a morning alarm: Waking up at the same time everyday can give you enough time to prepare for your workday. What time you opt to wake up may depend on how much time you need to warm up in the morning.
  • Set a regular lunch time: Taking lunch at a similar time everyday can give you a much-needed break and offers you time to refuel before getting back to work. Be sure to fully unplug during your lunch time so you can enjoy your break.
  • Take time to move around: This may mean walking around your home, heading outside for a quick walk, or doing some stretches during your breaks.
  • Spend some time outside: If weather permits, try to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. This can re-energize you. You may also consider engaging in a breathing exercise while outside.
  • Prioritize challenging tasks: If you have the ability to decide which projects or tasks to complete, consider doing the most difficult ones first to reduce potentially feeling overwhelmed later on in the day.
  • Make use of technology: If you want a little extra boost when it comes to time tracking and organization, consider using time management apps.

Experiment when it comes to creating your work-from-home routine and know that it may take a few weeks to months to acclimate to your new schedule.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

Even though it may be tempting to curl up in bed and work, try to create a dedicated workspace where you can solely focus on your job. Creating specific work and home boundaries, even if you're just using a small corner of your home, can help you mentally shift from home life to work. It may also help you leave your work "at the office" once you're done with your day.

Reduce Distractions

When you are ready to begin working, be sure to silence your phone and turn off any computer notifications you may receive that aren't work-related. You may also consider listening to relaxing music while you work, or using noise cancelling headphones if it's safe to do so depending on your particular situation.

Connect With Friends

If you feel isolated working from home, it's important to make an effort to connect with supportive individuals in your life. Because everyone may have different schedules, set up a regular time to video chat or call each other, and add it to your calendar as a reminder. You can also create a group chat to stay in touch with each other throughout the week.

Reward Yourself

To keep your motivation up, break down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, and reward yourself for completing them. Rewards may include:

  • Taking a well-deserved break
  • Reciting a positive affirmation to yourself
  • Physically checking the task off of your to-do list
  • Giving yourself a few minutes to check in with friends
  • Taking a few moments to stretch or engage in a relaxation exercise

What each individual finds rewarding will vary, so give a few options a try to figure out which ones work best for you.

Get Comfortable Saying No

During your work hours, you may receive many non-work-related requests. For some individuals, it may feel incredibly difficult saying no to others and placing your needs above theirs. Know that it is perfectly okay to turn down someone else's requests if it interferes with your ability to get your job done. Setting appropriate boundaries may help prevent you from taking on too much and offers you the opportunity to decide what you'd like to do with your free time.

Protect Your Sleep

Getting quality sleep at night directly impacts your overall well-being, including your ability to work from home effectively. Even though it may be tempting to do so, using screens late at night can alter your sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep. Be sure to prioritize unwinding at night and practice good sleep hygiene.

Press Play for Advice On Sleep Hygiene

Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring neurologist and sleep expert Chris Winter, shares strategies for sleeping better at night. Click below to listen now.

Subscribe Now: Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts

Practice Self-Care

When you work from home, it's important to prioritize self-care. Doing so may help you stay connected to yourself and better understand what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take your time figuring out how you can best take care of yourself and meet your needs. Practicing self-care may include:

  • Regularly exercising
  • Practicing meditation
  • Doing yoga
  • Reading during your downtime
  • Taking naps
  • Listening to music you enjoy
  • Spending time with friends

A Word From Verywell

While working from home may provide a sense of freedom and flexibility, as well as a no-cost commute, there are hidden stressors to be aware of. By focusing on what you can do to mitigate this stress, you can improve your overall work-life balance and general well-being.

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Eurofound and the International Labour Office. Working anytime, anywhere: The effects on the world of work.

  2. Hoornweg N, Peters P, van der Heijden B. Finding the optimal mix between telework and office hours to enhance employee productivity: A study into the relationship between telework intensity and individual productivity, with mediation of intrinsic motivation and moderation of office hours. In: Leede JD, ed. Advanced Series in Management. Vol 16. Emerald Group Publishing Limited; 2016:1-28. doi:10.1108/S1877-636120160000016002

Additional Reading

By Elizabeth Scott, PhD
Elizabeth Scott, PhD is an author, workshop leader, educator, and award-winning blogger on stress management, positive psychology, relationships, and emotional wellbeing.