Today we have a guest post from Money Shed member Gemma about how mental health can affect you when working from home.
Depression and Working From Home
With the average household to be £10,000 in debt by the end of 2016 it is no wonder that many of us are turning to other means of earning more. For a lot of the population bashing out hours behind the laptop on surveys, Ebay sales and matched betting requires very little effort but provides a suitable enough return.
In 2008 I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety during my first pregnancy. I had always struggled with the same symptoms but never headed to the quack’s office for a formal confirmation. Following the birth of my children I began working part time hours. However, with reduced hours comes a reduced salary and with a new family and debt I needed to find other options.
Money has always been an issue for me. It is always on my mind and whenever I am feeling low my automatic reaction is to stress about it. So with my mild obsession and need for extra cash I turned to the internet – don’t we all these days?
Working full time or extra hours in a bar is mentally not an option for me. I have dipped in and out of earning money online for a long time. Quite often the amount I put in, and subsequently get back, depends on my depression. Taking risks are not always easy. Take matched betting for example. It is completely risk free (when done correctly) but eventually involves large amounts of money. To get my head around this took months. I watched tutorials, read reviews, immersed myself in any information I could find about it just to get to the point where I felt that this was something I could achieve.
Even now I watch the totals that others detail and wonder how on earth they manage to get there. The difference is some days I cannot face working the sums, have little patience for finding close matches and get scared that I am doing it all wrong. I do nothing different from one day to the next yet no day is the same in my mind.
I also tried an MLM set-up but struggled to get on with it. I would make plans for appointments one day but then found keeping those appointments and the enthusiasm to go along with it difficult. Maintaining an online image is difficult too. Sometimes talking comes naturally and being positive is easily falsified but other times communicating is one of the hardest tasks of the day.
Procrastination and motivation are difficult to get past when working alone. I think those hurdles can be difficult for majority of people but are particularly difficult for someone battling with their mental health. Even in a conventional workplace these arise but without the team and morale around you, how can one who already struggles with self-worth begin to overcome them.
There are different coping mechanisms for everyone. No one person deals with a mental health issue in the same way as the next person. But here are a few of my main tips that I think could help majority of sufferers and non-sufferers.
Interaction with Others
These days the presence online is vast. There are a number of ways to communicate with people via social media and online forums. These mediums can provide vital connections. From the safety of a computer screen you are connected to a number of people in similar circumstances. This interaction can be vital when working from home. Depression can be very isolating and by removing yourself from the workplace you are further reducing that social interaction. Even if the revenue streams require little human interaction it is important to ensure your social life has some.
Having people who understand your concerns can go a long way towards managing difficult issues. Those without mental health issues working from home, generally speaking, have a bustling family or personal life hence their desire to stay close to the home. All it takes it having a neighbour who will drop in when they haven’t seen you surface for a while or a friend who calls to check in. But it doesn’t have to be that way around. Visit that elderly neighbour. You get out of the house, you both get some company and it takes very little effort. After all they will have certainly seen you running to put the bins out in your dressing gown once or twice!
Finding the Balance
Do you consider yourself successful? How do you measure that success? These kind of questions are imperative at ensuring you don’t find yourself in a downward spiral of self-worth and self-belief. In an office you have targets, and appraisals, and (hopefully) people to turn to during tough projects. You may get bonuses and performance related pay. So on days where the return is low, find other ways to measure success. Is it solely down to how much you bring in? Then only spend time on high return tasks. Set yourself achievable goals without spending every spare minute on time consuming surveys that will only net you only 50p.
Make a List!
I will say this again because I think it is the biggest tool – set yourself achievable goals. Making a list of what you want to achieve each day. If you want to be your own manager, then you have to manage yourself. These lists should not be there to make you fail. Start off small. Give yourself one or two tasks. You can always add to the list. But at the end of the day when things are not ticked off you cannot take them away. At the end of the day you need to get the balance right to prevent burn out.
It is easy to get excited about a new plan and go head long into it. Many of my friends are the same – both those with and without depression. But what happens when someone doesn’t have a sustainable source of food. They starve. So when you don’t have a sustainable level of income you starve yourself of enthusiasm. So then you lose focus. A loss of focus can see an impact on earnings and then the spiral begins.
Dealing with mental health issues are extremely isolating. Dealing with depression in the workplace is difficult too. But it is all about how you manage that. For some, working from the safety of their home can work wonders for anxiety related issues. Simple tasks can be extra demanding but that doesn’t mean someone should be forced to live on low incomes.
For me having the support of my family is key. My husband is enthusiastic about anything I bring to him – even if he thinks it is a crazy idea. Then I turn to forums. A forum such as The Money Shed provides a “one stop shop” so to speak. I can get advice about specific tasks I want to undertake, receive guidance for decisions my brain just cannot do alone and most importantly get a kick up the bum from like-minded people when I start to doubt what is achievable. My goals are clear – I want to be debt free and take my children to Florida. After all my dream job is selling Disney holidays over the phone from the comfort of my sofa. Every morning I write my to-do list. Today’s list contains all things like laundry and hoovering, open the windows, balance the bank account. I have easy tasks I can cross off quickly. Some that will take a little longer. But all of these things I know can be completed by the time my head hits my pillow – sometime around 9pm these days!!
I know my mental health will always pull up a few extra hurdles for me. But as long as I have my family I will make anything work for me. Working from home means I can pick my children up from school every afternoon where I spend 10 minutes (ok, ok 30 minutes!) chatting to other people. Interacting with the world without a keyboard. I won’t let depression and anxiety stand in the way of our family’s dreams. It might just take me a little longer to get there.