Thousands of entrepreneurs start out working from home, and some choose to continue to do so, but beware isolation!
By Crystal Ponti (Founder, Blue Lobster Book Co.)
Recently I found myself in a bit of a funk. I was feeling blue and disconnected. It suddenly occurred to me that it had been nearly two weeks since I had left the house. Two weeks! Since I work from home, this is a big no-no. To feel reenergized and inspired I have to have a change of scenery on a regular basis. And I’m not alone.
One of the major drawbacks for women who work from home is the feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world. Although solitude (synonymous for isolation) is considered an opportunity to work without countless distractions, too much of it can be unhealthy. Feeling lonely and isolated can lead to decreased motivation and unhappiness – like I was experiencing. It can also trigger more serious issues such as anxiety and depression.
Understanding how isolation occurs is the first step in conquering it. In my experience, there are two sides to work from home isolation.
All By Myself
One is a lack of communication and connectivity. Like all humans, we need social interaction on some level and this has to be beyond our children and pets. The other side of isolation is being cooped up in the same environment day after day and falling into a routine rut. Too much routine is actually a bad thing.
Prevention is Better Than Cure
The second step in conquering isolation is to take measures to prevent it in the first place. Here are some tips on battling this nagging issue:
- There’s nothing more uplifting than fresh air. So make sure to get outside at least once a day! If you work with the kids at home, play outdoors with them or take an hour to visit a local park.
- Hit the road, Jill! Seriously. If you suddenly feel trapped or claustrophobic, get in your car and go for a drive. You don’t even need a destination. Sometimes all it takes is a stroll around town.
- Take advantage of the many webinars, Twitter chats and Google Hangout events occurring online each day. Online interaction is every bit as beneficial as face-to-face interaction.
- Rather than corresponding through email or instant messaging, opt for video chats when possible. Skype is a great platform to use and it’s free, too.
- If you’re working from home as an employee, chances are your employer has systems and processes already in place to help you stay connected and keep you in the loop. If this is not the case, be proactive. Speak to your supervisor about how you are feeling and come up with a game plan. Every company wants productive employees, so odds are they will go out of their way to help you.
- Meet clients face-to-face when possible.
- Participate in local business networking events and conferences. Call your Chamber of Commerce to learn about what’s available in your area.
- Take up a new hobby or interest. Join a mommy and baby yoga class or book club.
- Plan regular lunch dates with your spouse, family members or friends. Or join a colleague for coffee or brunch.
- Stop and smell the roses. If you can’t get out, savor the things around you that you often take for granted. It might be a framed portrait that your husband bought for you or a backyard buzzing with birds and wildlife. Sometimes remembering why we are thankful for certain things helps us feel better about where we are and can get us by until we are able to connect with others or veture away from our typical surroundings.
- Are you just venturing into working from home? Don’t let the newness fool you! Accept the inevitable. Everyone experiences isolation from time-to-time. It can quickly creep up on you, so be cognizant and aware.
Note: Take care of you! Call an experienced medical professional if you are experiencing any symptoms of extreme withdrawal, anxiety or depression.