The home you live in and the place where you work can affect your mental health, making you depressed, anxious and stressed.
Consider the way you feel when your living space is a wreck. It may seem impossible to relax or think clearly. But as soon as you clean and organize your home, life feels more manageable. That’s because people often see themselves as a reflection of their environment. When your surroundings become chaotic, that chaos can spread to your brain.
Home, Work and Your Mental Health
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to control your home or work environment. Relationship struggles, issues with children, financial hardships and housing insecurity can hammer away at your mental health. It’s difficult to feel safe and secure when you don’t have a place to retreat.
The same goes for stressful work environments. Waking up every day and dreading what’s about to happen will take a toll. It may be a toxic workplace, where you encounter frequent conflicts. Or you may have an employer or coworkers who don’t offer healthy interactions and relationships.
These are such powerful components of our lives that trouble in one area can easily bleed over into the other. If you’re having a conflict with someone at work, that can put stress on your relationships with your partner, friends and children.
Among the common symptoms of depression:
- Frequent or constant feelings of sadness or anxiety
- Finding no joy in favorite activities
- Feeling restless, irritable or easily frustrated
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Sleeping too much or waking up too early
- Having no appetite
- Aches and pains that don’t get better with treatment
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Constantly feeling tired
- Feeling guilty or helpless
- Thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
Coping With Your Environment
People usually understand what’s causing their environmental stress, anxiety and depression. But if you’re having difficulty pinpointing the source of your discomfort, try keeping a journal.
It could be as simple as sitting down and recording your thoughts and what’s happening whenever you feel bad. Or you could take a more structured approach (a therapist can help you with this) where you record specific information about each of these incidents – where you are, how you are feeling, what your brain is doing, etc.
Journaling can help you get a better handle on the parts of your life you can control. For example, you may realize that a particular co-worker is causing turmoil in your life. You can then explore options for countering that. But you may also find that some of your stressors – housing insecurity, for example – are beyond your control. Even if you can’t make that go away, you might be able to draw upon social support to help manage your emotions.
It’s important to remember that environmental stressors are seldom permanent. Change doesn’t always occur as quickly as we might want it to, but there are coping strategies you can use, including:
- Family and friends: Reach out to the people you care about and who care about you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.
- Go outside: We often spend too much time cramped indoors. Sunlight and fresh air can do wonders for your mental well-being.
- Enjoy a hobby: Taking part in a favorite past-time can give your mind time to relax and recharge.
- Exercise: Physical activity relieves stress and boosts self-esteem.
- Find a connection: Activities like church or volunteering may help give you a stronger sense of purpose.
- Avoid alcohol: Alcohol can make depression symptoms worse.
- Change jobs: This isn’t always feasible, but if you have the freedom to consider a change, this could help you escape a toxic environment.
- Talk to your boss/coworkers: If you are having issues at work, it may help to raise your concerns. It could be that the person causing your stress isn’t aware of the impact they’re having on you.
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