So, you’ve set up a workstation in your bedroom. Maybe this was out of necessity – since you live with others who are also working and/or learning remotely.
Or you figured the short commute from bed to desk would allow you to sleep in a few extra minutes. Whatever the reason for setting up your work-from-home station in your bedroom, by now you’ve likely started experiencing some of the drawbacks working from your bedroom can have on your mental health.
“Working from your bedroom can be disruptive to your sleep because your bedroom becomes associated with being alert and awake, especially if you already find it difficult to switch off from work at home,” explains clinical psychologist Dr. Brian Wind.”
You might be unable to fully relax. Your productivity may suffer due to increased feelings of irritation, disconnection and sadness that make it difficult to concentrate during work.”
“Whenever possible, the bedroom should be a place of rest and recharging, not work,” echoes certified wellness coach Jamie Gold. “The blue light from computer, phone and tablet screens interferes with human circadian rhythms, impacting sleep. This is one of the major negative effects of working out of your bedroom. Additionally, the space becomes emotionally associated with work, rather than downtime, potentially reducing its ability to be restorative.”
If working from your bedroom is having a negative impact on your mental health — but you’re left with no other options to set up shop, here are a few suggestions to help mitigate the negative effects of working from your bedroom.
Separate your workspace
“We can benefit from making a plan that clearly delineates the hours that we work and clearly defines our physical surroundings as much as possible,” explains Larissa Golloub, LCSW-R. “For example, upon completing work for the day is there some way to cover or put the workspace out of view, such as putting up a room divider, throwing a big sheet or beautiful throw over the work space, or moving flowers in a vase to the space?”
Gold agrees that establishing physical separation that keeps your workstation out of view from your sleeping space is key. “Separate [your workspace] visually from the sleeping area if possible with furniture that closes or a screen,” she suggests.
Do not work on your bed
As tempting as it is to climb into bed with your laptop and assume a comfy position while you catch up on emails, certified health and wellness coach Lynell Ross cautions against this. “Do your best to separate your work from where you sleep to promote calm and a peaceful night’s rest,” she says.
Take frequent breaks
“If you have to work from your bedroom, take as many breaks as possible and go outside or do something in another room,” says Ross. “Being in the same room to work all day, and then trying to sleep at night can drain your energy, and make you feel lethargic.”
Use cues that signal the start and end of the work day
“Having cues such as changing your clothes when you start and end work can also help your mind to switch off from work,” Wind explains. He also suggests keeping your laptop away after the end of a work day to establish the end of the work day.
“It is also extremely helpful to create and maintain a ritual each workday, such as taking 5 to 15 minutes to tidy up the workspace upon completing work for the day and putting work papers and items out of view or organized in an attractive office cart or storage unit,” Golloub suggests.