If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on [email protected] for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact [email protected]

Feeling depressed from working at home

  • 23-09-2020 11:03am
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭

    I have been working from home since March. initially it was great. A lot of events and work trips that had been planned were cancelled and a lot of pressure lifted. But over time, i have found it very difficult to concentrate on work. Entire weeks have passed by with very little work completed. I am in a senior position at work and have a lot of autonomy, so i don't have anybody who micromanages my task. But deadlines are now coming up for stuff i should have been doing all along, and I feel really stressed. I wake up every morning before 6 am with a surge of adrenaline, realising all that i have to do. But when i start work, i find everything that i can do to avoid addressing those tasks.

    In recent weeks, i have found the stress moving into depression. Now i just feel flat and a bit hopeless. I am not at a point of considering any kind of self-harm. I just don't know where to go next. I have tried all kinds of different techniques to try to motivate myself, and they work for a few days, but then i will have passed another few days with no work done and feel terrible again. I am normally a high-achiever and very hard worker. But i realise now how much i miss the day-to-day interaction with colleagues, the meetings etc. I am not cut out for working alone with only a zoom connection to colleagues.

    I am mainly wondering if anybody else finds themselves in the same position.


  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    I also am in a senior position where I have good autonomy. Yes some days its hard to find focus if you are not speaking to a lot of people.

    Old manager had a good saying, 'you can only deal with whats in front of you'.

    Focus on getting one task cleared at a time, you will be surprised how quickly you start getting through things.

    Keep in touch with people from work, we do the occasional coffee over video call.

    Lastly, some hotels now are offering work space at reasonable rates. Perhaps book one in for a few days? Might help with the focus.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8,275 ✭✭✭Gregor Samsa

    Similar to you, my company moved to WFH in mid March, and I haven't been back in the office since. I used to WFH the odd time before Covid 19, and I never enjoyed it, but did it when I needed to. With this prolonge, forced situation, i'm really not enjoying it.

    I'm in a senior position too, and also have a lot of autonomy, but luckily I don't have any big project deadlines looming. But I was just thinking to myself that if I had, I'd probably be in the exact same position as you.

    Maybe there's a couple of things you could try.

    First up, if you're going to miss a deadline, better to let people know sooner rather than later. You don't have to say you've been dossing at home or anything, but try to think of a way to explain that you need more time. That will at least buy you more time, which will relieve some of the immediate stress - thing is, you only get that extension once, so you can't waste it if you get it.

    First thing you need to do when WFH is to be disciplined. Set your alarm and make sure you're up in the morning and sitting at your desk by 9, having had your breakfast before hand. Be showered and dressed - ready for the day. If you can, set up your desk in a room that you don't use much during the day, so that it's a "work" area away from the rest of your home. Set another alarm for 11, and don't take a break until then. Same for lunch and a break at 3. Then finish at whatever time you are expected to finish. Create a set "work time" and stick to it. Then have the rest as "home time" that you don't let work encroach on.

    Then you need to figure out how to get productive again. One trick is to make a list of all the things you have to do, then tick them off as you do them. You see both your responsibilities and your progress. I don't bother with fancy apps for this, which I think are a distraction. A jotter on my desk, and the list written in pen. It only takes a minute to do. Another tip I've heard (but haven't tried myself) is to ask a peer to be your remote work buddy. Share your objectives for the morning with them, and them with you. Then just before lunch, you tell them what you achieved and they tell you. That way, you have someone "checking up on you", but in a controlled and non-judgemental way.

    I really miss the day to day interaction too, and it's hard to recreate with Zoom meetings or "virtual coffee breaks". Maybe you could meet up with your colleagues somewhere outdoors every week or two? My company is organising a lunch in the car park next week, with a burger van. It'll be the first time I've seen any of them in 6 months, and I'm really looking forward to it - but it doesn't have to be something official that the office organises.

    Lastly, if you are really struggling, don't be shy to mention it to you boss. I think everyone's feeling it, at least a bit, and they likely are too. Maybe there's scope to work in the office one day a week, even alone, just to get a change of scene.

    I have a friend who started work a couple of years ago in a company where he was the only employee in Ireland, so he was totally on his own. He found it very hard to deal with. So he used to try to meet up with other people from other companies as much as possible. one day he'd have lunch with me, or another friend, then another day, he'd arrange to work in a Bank of Ireland Workbench with someone else he knew who was self employed. I know with the current situation and restrictions we don't have the freedom to do all of that, but what I'm saying is that you don't just have to look to your work colleagues for human contact during the work day.

    Anyway, best of luck. You're in a situation I fully understand - and I think it's very common. WFH certainly does suit some people, but I think there's a lot for whom it's wearing thin. The "at least you have a job" attitude isn't helpful when you're suffering mentally from it, but I think there's a certain amount of people who aren't admitting - in public at least - that it's not an ideal situation, and that they're struggling with it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,368 ✭✭✭Airyfairy12

    Either dedicate a room in your house for work only or alternatively bring your laptop to a cafe or library to work, might even be an option to rent out a small office space.
    Secondly, when it come to doing work and youre finding it hard to get started, try and do just half an hour of work. Sometimes that's all it takes to get stuck in and complete a few tasks. If after the half an hour you feel you cant do anymore, take a break and come back to it later, after the half hour if you feel like you want to continue then keep going. I think getting started is sometimes the hardest part.
    Id also reccommend writing out a to-do list. This is really good for breaking down everything you need to get done and helping to priorities the most important tasks.
    If it's socialising your missing can you take a few hours out of your week to meet up a friend or family member?

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,647 ✭✭✭✭punisher5112

    Get out for a walk before you start, take a break at when you would and split it up where you go out one or two days for this to get out.

    Do similar for after, short walk or cycle, get out for dinner every so often and that should help.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,121 ✭✭✭James Bond Junior

    Also in a senior role and was WFH for an age. Went back to the office alone and it was worse, just me and the accountant in offices at separate ends of a corridor. There's normally 800 people in the building so the eeriness and silence freaked me out.

    Try to get back to your in work routines, write out your daily to do lists, use your diary to schedule things etc.
    I try and get dressed as normal, eat my weekday breakfast and have a dedicated work space which I move away from once I finish or go for lunch. At the end of the day, I change my clothes again. Working in my jocks and smelly t shirt was a subconscious distraction. WFH makes it difficult to switch off which probably isn't helping the situation so making sure you switch on like you would when going to work helps. Create an in work atmosphere and then in the same action, a definite "switch off" action. It helps structure the day a little bit more and break down the day into working versus leisure time.

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 818 ✭✭✭radiotrickster

    I really feel for you, OP. It sounds like linking in with your manager could be a good way to go.

    I’d recommend also writing a list of everything that needs doing and the deadlines. It might look overwhelming but it will give you a clear idea of where you are and what needs doing. Prioritise whatever is coming first and give yourself a realistic target – have it done in an hour, day, week, etc.

    Sometimes these things seem worse in your head but once you look at it on paper, it’s not as bad as you imagined. It might give you the boost you need to really go for it and keep your head down too.

    Maybe you could think about having a chat with your GP about how you’re feeling too. They could be seeing a lot of this and have an idea of some supports that you could look into.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,690 ✭✭✭cloudatlas

    I have a new manager who isn't interested in my job at all and over the last 7 months has made that clear, as she is the main person from work I speak to it can be soul destroying and demotivating. Some days especially after talking to her I find it difficult to concentrate. My advice.

    Set and stick to a routine, stick to 9-5 if possible. Take breaks to get coffee or go for a walk, move your body.

    Attend all the meetings you can, hearing others talk about work helps me feel motivated.

    I listen to podcasts in the background sometimes to feel more relaxed if I'm doing something where I don't have to concentrate too much.

    Meditation, the headspace app really works.

    Set small achievable goals. Work out what the least is you have to do a day to achieve the deadline.

    Talk to someone about it.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,652 ✭✭✭✭beauf

    A few people have said similar to me recently. So I don't think its that unusual.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,272 ✭✭✭qwerty13

    I think it does depend on the level of personal contact that you’re used to, how you feel about that, plus your commute, and the amount of work you can do from home - and how easily you can arrange that.

    For instance most people that I know had a long commute, a lot of meetings, and a good but not great salary. To people like that, wfh seems to be a godsend that none want to give up. The only ones I’ve heard that want to go back into the office are those with young kids, where it’s not easy to mind their kids while wfh, and they have a shorter commute.

    Of course it’s a gross generalisation, but it seems to be younger and single people who want to get back to the office, and lots of their other colleagues are praying that they’d shut up 😂

    I guess like most things in life, it’s a balance OP. If it really isn’t something that you like personally, think hard before you come down on the idea, as it could be a lifeline for lesser paid colleagues with less flexibility. Think what you can do for yourself in terms of goals and motivation. It’s definitely a learning experience for us all.

    While I’m not unsympathetic to how you feel, I think there’s a lot of people who are living such better lives wfh, so I’m conscious from a few friends that they feel under a lot of pressure to be present in the office building, when they’re scared health-wise, and do not see the point anymore in 2 to 3 hours daily commute.

    If you do find the current way of working very trying, I think the onus is on you, especially as a manager, to find a way of making it work. Some good suggestions in this thread. I hope you can learn to value the less distractions and extra time wfh has given you. Good luck!

    PS: how you feel about wfh is obviously valid - but I’d say just be careful about how you express your views, for example a friends manager has gone OTT wanting everyone back in the office, and it’s lead to a huge amount of resentment as the staff just don’t see why it’s necessary. So I’d think I’d be safe to say that that managers team ain’t gonna have additional productivity. I think you’re better focusing on what you can do about your own motivation / productivity

  • Registered Users Posts: 11 Shibby89

    Its possible that your employer has an Employee Assistance programme with one of the health providers. They have been getting 100s of calls from people going through the same you. If you take that step to make that phone call you will feel the benefit after .

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 47 machomac

    Totally agree with your post OP. Very similar situation myself. Have had some very unproductive weeks. Having lots to do and big deadlines are quite strange when you are sitting in a quiet room by yourself in opposed to being in a busy office where you feed off the energy of everybody else being under pressure. Also having a few laughs along the way. I have got better at it. First thing is an A4 diary. Also a selection of coloured highlighters. When you finish work in the evening, write down tomorrows tasks. This gives you a head start mentally and will allow yourself to relax more that night. Each task header broken down into smaller tasks to achieve it. The more you break it down the better. As you go through your day cross things off with the highlighter. Yellow for tasks completed, orange for meetings attended, blue for important emails sent etc. Make your own system. When the page starts lighting up like a Christmas tree it feels bloody good. The most important thing to do though is meditate. When you wake up, don't look at phone or email. Sit and meditate for 10 to 15 mins. YouTube have some great morning meditations. Reset the mind then go and take a look at your pre made list and cross a couple of things off in the first 20 mins. A call, couple of emails, whatever. I often use background sound also. Rainforest sounds, ocean sounds...really good for focus. Stress is tough and you feel it getting worse as you get nothing done at work. My advice is....and this might sound daft but try it...before you go to sleep at night, write down three things you are grateful for. E.g my family are healthy, the knowledge I have to offer my company, my wonderful nephews. Doing this is honestly like taking sleeping pills. The anxiety disappears and you float off the sleep and wake up with a smile on your face. It's all OK OP. You are not alone here. You are not stuck in this position. A few positive changes can reap massive rewards.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 22,652 ✭✭✭✭beauf

    It's just getting boring looking at the same 4 walls and faces.

  • Registered Users Posts: 613 ✭✭✭Meeoow

    I'm exactly the same OP. First few weeks were great, then slowly, I stopped doing the wee things that made my routine. No need to wash the car, it hasn't moved in weeks. No interaction with people, I live on my own. Even grocery shopping isn't the same.
    I am not nearly as productive as if I'm in the office, and I was feeling really guilty. Sometimes I was turning on the laptop in the evening to try to make up for the shortfall, so I wasn't really switching off.
    But the last few weeks I have stopped feeling guilty about the lack of productivity, I'm trying to get back into routines of walking etc, just to feel normal again.

  • Subscribers Posts: 39,837 ✭✭✭✭sydthebeat

    Op you need to get yourself a day planner, and plan your whole week out in advance.

    Include for everything from waking to sleeping.... lunch breaks, tea breaks etc, physical exercise, TV time, kids time etc and try to stick as close to our as possible. Change up the days, so you don't have the same routine everyday. Include the weekend in your planner

    Divide your workload into bite sized chunks, with the goal not being the end deadline, but much smaller manageable deadlines every couple of days. Include the most taxing work at the beginning of the day.

    Leave about a 1/2 hour at the end of your worrying day "floating" to either catch up with something you missed during the day, or to make an early start on for the next day.

    It will be incredibly difficult to do at the start, but if you stick religiously to it you'll be surprised how much work you get through and quickly you will get used to routine

  • Registered Users Posts: 13,060 ✭✭✭✭fits

    I had a terrible slump in August with summer ending. I have one every year but it was magnified this year by the winter ahead. Could you use a coworking space? I've worked remotely for years and found them great. Im actually in my office now though 3 days a week and happy to be back as well.

    I thought this tweet about hitting the wall at 6 month stage was really good.

  • Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭LegacyUser

    I've worked most of my career freelance so this change to people working from home hasn't impacted as massively for me. My advice is putting a system in place and stick to it. Get up and have breakfast then go for a walk or drive so when you get home you are now 'at work' Keep work space as separated from non work space as much as possible. Don't eat lunch at desk. Don't watch tv/youtube/surf net at work space in the evenings.

    It is tough working from home and doesn't suit everyone so don't beat yourself up OP. If you can take time off and pack work stuff away for a few days and get head space back do it.

  • Registered Users Posts: 15,119 ✭✭✭✭ILoveYourVibes

    Well ...

    Surround your work space with uplifting things.

    Maybe get an oilburner going.

    You can have music on.

    Make the space in your home uplifting.

    Do little things for yourself.

    Maybe arrange to do something (safe with a neighbor) during your lunch.

    Have what social things that we CAN do as something to look forward to.

    Seek counseling if you need it.

    Take care of yourself ..take care of your diet ..exercise etc.

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,306 ✭✭✭bobbyy gee

    go for walks first thing in morning and last think at people.can you work in your garden a lot of people are depressed right now

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,910 ✭✭✭begbysback

    Begbys rules when wfh

    1 this is mandatory wfh music and should always be on

    2 get out of the house during the day, do NOT stay in the house all day

    3 understand that you have a new role, facilities management, unless that dept pop out to your house regularly and do the necessaries then realise that is additional work and will take up some of your time

    4 your either working from home, or living in the office, you get to choose

    5 if deadlines are near then extend your most productive time, if you are more productive in the evenings then extend the evening finishing up time but take a longer lunch break, if you are more productive in the mornings then extend the mornings by taking a late lunch

  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 17,249 ✭✭✭✭MEGA BRO WOLF 5000

    I was doing the WFH thing for 3 years before covid so I can totally relate to the boredom, lack of motivation and depression. It was the best job in the world for about 6 weeks then I found myself procrastinating a lot and work piling up.

    The only thing that helped was leaving the house to go to a hotel lobby or a coffee shop to get work done in hour or two hour blocks. I would get more done when I physically left the kitchen table to go to these places.

    WFH does not suit everybody. I’m much happier in my new role where I’m meeting people all day in person. I can safely say I’ll try and avoid WFH at all costs from now on unless it was something like one day a week or something. The isolation is soul destroying.

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 48 uiolfg

    I'm dying in isolation too

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,319 ✭✭✭JustAThought

    OP - there is nothing worse than the rising tide of panic when you realise you are in trouble with deadlines and work paralysis. It sounds like you might be a bit of an overachiever and perfectionist - knowing you can’t now get it done to
    your normal standard creates a vicious cycle of fear and procrastination. I lost a very good job once through this - I was so busy procrastinating & being perfect and getting 150% perfect that 70% of the work was not done. I know how it feels and feel terrible with you.

    My sugestions -
    When you wake up, Get up - get out of the house and go for a brisk walk or run. Half an hour or 45 minutes. Its amazing how alive and clear your head will feel after.

    Then when you come back go straight into work. No farting around with coffees or cooking breakfasts or research or reading emails.

    Get something started - any old start - figure out what you can/ should have achieved in 30 minute chunks. Quickly Sketch bullets for deliverables out on a bit of paper ( no farting around with excel & printers) - eg 0930 -10:00 general template for strategy document found and edited for use - 10:30 - 1100 Overview written, 1100-1130 4 pages completes etc or whatever it is you are working on. Tick them off as you go
    through the day and if you don’t finish by the time move on to the next task.

    Decide a timeline and stay with it - work 8-6 with an hour exercise for lunch. If it helps you
    to work another hour and a half in the evening timetable it in and do it - but be strict - have a series of time limited goals for this period and atop when your hour and a half is over. GO OUTSIDE and exercise again -after your ‘days’ - it gives you energy, makes you feel good and clears your head. Don’t skip the exercise parts.

    Even at this stage the extra 1 1/2 hour an evening will make up one day a week, and if you do a few Saturdays and/or Sundays for 5 solid hours ( say 8-2) of productive task orientated work that will quickly make up 2 or 3 full weeks for you which might be a Godsend for making those deadlines.

    Try not to unwind in front of anTV/bluescreen or on a couch.

    Let aVerage be good enough. You can tinker with it later and finesse it another 25% once it is completed. Just start. Don’t give in and don’t give up.You might be used to high standards and lofty successes but times are different now and this is about surviving and pushing through.

    I find that listening to podcasts or old bbc radio dramas ( search for that in videos in google) really helps - its like a social distraction and also takes your mind 100% out of your head and gives you
    an inner monologue break. the Guardian and New Yorker also have writers reading short stories and discussing them - its like being inna conversation and usually is a totally different headspace to work thoughts. Google also best podcasts - both Wired

    and ( bizzarely) this link

    had some really off the bar suggestions with links to the podcasts ( often hilarious or totally whacked out) - don’t choose anything tech-ey or practical or work related - you need to get that out of your brain. podcast while exercising/ cooking/ in the bath... its seriously de-stressing and a huge help.

    Lots of people are finding this a huge struggle and have really taken their foot off the pedal productivity wise. You will not be the only one in your work missing deadlines or coming far too close, and with weaker than normal outputs. Exercise, get up and get out into fresh air, and podcast for mental relief. You are the most important end result so try and restabilise yourself and list your tasks chunk by chunk ea h day and plough in and get anything started & done..

    Its true what they say when faces with an overwhelming enormous deadline or task - how do you eat an elephant - just start anywhere - and keep going - one bite at a time.

    Don’t self harm - you will only have to fix that too and you are worth much more than that. Be kind to yourself and don’t damage yourself - you are the most important person to someone in the world and it will hurt them to see how much in pain you were.

    Don’t give up. It WILL be OK.