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In this episode, one woman lists a few work from home habits that are easy to fall into, but bad for her mental health.

Video narration by Natasha Chiquito-Perez

Video by Grace Lee

Based on an article by Gina Vaynshteyn:

The Financial Diet site:

I've been working from home for close to a year.

However, in the last few months, I went from being full time at a remote startup to becoming full time freelance due to COVID-19 related layoffs. After I was let go and started exploring my work options, I took a couple of days to assess my head space.

While I felt dejected about my job, I also accepted the fact that I was emotionally exhausted for reasons honestly within my own control. There are so many perks to working from home, including avoiding a long commute, wearing whatever you want, and being able to lead a more flexible life. But as many people have learned by this point, it has its drawbacks too.

It became too easy to develop bad habits that allowed me to prioritize getting shit done over my well-being. By March, I literally could not recognize myself in the mirror. I looked unhappy.

My relationship with my friends and spouse were strained. I felt totally disconnected from my body, and I also just felt remarkably small and invisible. Although I'm still working from home now, I've been trying to make changes to my layout, schedule, and mindset.

These are some of the habits that I'm working to break. It's been a journey, but I'm trying. Number one, not eating a real lunch.

Even though I would specifically buy food for a lunch break, I would more often than not resort to eating Flaming Hot Cheetos or something equally nutritionally evil from a bag. So I could just continue working without the hassle of preparing something. I felt like I just needed to consume something easy and preferably salty, if we're being honest here, until I wasn't hungry anymore.

After months of this, I became moody and more irritable. I felt tired all the time, even though I was sleeping the same hours. It wasn't the weight gain.

Although, yeah, there was that. That was the problem. It was more about the fact that I wasn't utilizing food as a way to take care of myself.

Number two, not making time to exercise enough. The only thing that made it so that I got any movement in at all is my puppy. We got her a few weeks after I started my remote job.

And since she's a super active breed, she needs at least two long walks a day or else she starts eating the walls literally. I know that if I didn't feel responsible for her well-being, I would have never exercised for myself. But that was still a problem.

Why didn't I want to work out for myself? As someone who used to regularly go to the gym, I knew that it made me feel less stressed and that I generally liked moving around, and listening to my workout playlist, and reading a magazine on the elliptical. Number three, feeling guilty if I did something that wasn't work free than 10 minutes.

Any minute spent away from my laptop made me feel like a bad employee when I wasn't. I've worked for a company that forbade remote work, because the managers felt like they couldn't trust their employees, which definitely didn't feel good. Since my most recent job was a remote company, my boss had to trust me, and I think she truly did.

But that didn't mean I wouldn't put needless pressure on myself to always be on in order to prove I was valuable. Number four, feeling ugly on Zoom if I didn't get dressed up. My feelings about video calls are complicated.

I get the need for them, and I understand why employers would want their team to have their cameras on. At the same time, I would dread having to turn my camera on for meetings. Because I more likely than not hadn't showered that day, definitely had not done my makeup, and was most certainly not wearing a bra.

I was lucky that my manager and coworkers were understanding. But on days when we were specifically asked to leave our cameras on, I'd rather give myself an extra 30 minutes that morning to get ready and feel angry about it or just say screw it and log on completely unfiltered. After the call, though, I'd immediately feel grossed out with myself.

I worried that I didn't look professional and that my lack of togetherness would make my team feel like I didn't take things seriously. Number five, getting into fights with my husband, because I assumed he resented me for working from home. My husband's current job as a chef at a hospital means he has an hour long commute each way.

And up until he had to go on a medical leave of absence for an injury, he had no choice but to go to the hospital every single day, even though he knew there were confirmed COVID-19 cases in the same building. He would come home extremely stressed and paranoid. And I would then feel bad and make myself believe that this was because he resented me for staying at home while he couldn't.

We'd then argue, him trying to convince me he didn't feel that way, and me saying, just admit it. You think I don't have as real of a job as you, because I work from home. Even before the pandemic, there would be days I would feel extremely guilty I got to stay at home and work in yoga pants while he had to drive an hour to work in a hot kitchen.

Since we're now home together all the time, we've worked those things out, and he even gets to see exactly what I do all day long. We definitely understand each other better. Number six, having the idea that my work didn't have as much meaning since I didn't work in an office.

Before the pandemic, there was a lot of heavy stock in office culture and structure. If you're not in back to back meetings in a large conference room or drinking coffee at your desk while ferociously typing away at your laptop that's hooked into a separate monitor so you can multitask and go from screen to screen while also chatting with your employees about their weekend plans, then who are you really? After months spent working in leggings in bed and not physically being around other team members, I felt like I was working a made up job when, of course, that wasn't the case.

In the last two months, I've taken steps to avoid burnout. I'm also working on getting in touch with a virtual therapist so that I have the tools I need to help manage my mental health, but not all days are perfect. And I'm working on being kinder to myself too.