Working at home is becoming increasingly common due to the safety concerns posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Many of the country’s biggest employers are allowing employees to work from home until the end of 2020. Some, such as Facebook, have even said employees would be allowed to work from home till summer 2021 to better accommodate the remote learning needs of their children.
Some Are Struggling
While some people may find that they enjoy the flexibility of working at home, others are struggling to adjust and turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms. For example, officials at American Addiction Centers (AAC) recently released a study finding that 36 percent of men and 26 percent of women admitted to drinking during work hours while working at home due to COVID-19. Respondents also admitted prioritizing drinking over other needs, with 22 percent saying they’ve stockpiled alcohol and 35 percent saying they’re drinking more since COVID-19 restrictions began.
The Work-at-Home Lifestyle Can Indirectly Promote Poor Mental Health
Working at home is a significant adjustment if you’re used to a traditional office environment. Without a commitment to creating a regular routine that promotes a wellness-focused lifestyle, it’s easy to slip into bad habits that can end up having a negative impact on your mental health.
This might include:
- Skipping meals
- Snacking on junk food
- Failing to exercise regularly
- Having no set work hours
- Blowing off work for Netflix binges
- Working in your pajamas for days on end
- Leaving your workspace a cluttered mess
- Not making time for family and friends
The coronavirus pandemic has upended everyone’s daily routine and created an extra source of stress, so it’s understandable to have an “off” day or two at work. However, creating a set schedule that mimics the structure of the office environment can help you maintain your productivity and reduce your risk of developing a substance use disorder or other serious mental health concerns.
Specific Warning Signs to Watch For
If you’re having trouble adjusting to working at home and don’t have healthy coping mechanisms in place, it can be easy to turn to drugs or alcohol to get through the day. Over time, this behavior can turn into a full-fledged substance use disorder.
Some warning signs that indicate further evaluation might be necessary include:
- You’re using drugs or alcohol during work hours. Even if you’d never consider using at the office, working at home can make it hard to resist the temptation to turn to substance use during the day—especially if your manager doesn’t schedule regular check-in meetings and if you’re allowed to work largely unsupervised.
- You reach for drugs or alcohol when you’re bored. Missing the camaraderie of the office can leave you feeling lonely while you work at home. If you’re coping with these feelings by sneaking a drink or popping a pill, that’s problematic.
- You’re drinking to the point where you’re having blackouts. If your alcohol consumption is high enough to trigger memory loss, you’re at risk of alcohol poisoning and a host of other negative health consequences. Blackout drinking must be taken seriously.
- You’ve been disciplined for poor performance. If your substance use has increased to the point where you’re missing deadlines, snapping at your coworkers during virtual meetings, or turning in subpar work, this is a sign you need help.
- When you get paid, your first thought is replenishing your stash. If your drug or alcohol consumption is increasing and using is more of a priority than paying your regular monthly expenses, alarm bells should be sounding.
- When confronted about your substance use, you lie or make excuses for your behavior. If you feel the need to hide your drug or alcohol use from others, this shows you know deep down that your behavior has become a problem.
- You’ve tried to cut back but have been unsuccessful. Being unable to regulate your drug or alcohol use despite your best efforts suggests professional addiction treatment is needed.
If you think you may have problems with alcohol or drug abuse, it’s important to seek evidence-based care as soon as possible. Addiction is a progressive illness that’s most easily treated in the early stages.
As an essential business, Waypoint Recovery Center will remain open and available to serve clients throughout the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Staff at our South Carolina drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility are closely monitoring the spread of the virus and taking all CDC-recommended precautions to minimize the risk of infection. Now is your time to enter recovery.