Working from home in isolation – the dark secret I was ashamed about

Mar 15, 2020

Working from home in isolation – top tips to help you stay sane!

Working from home in isolation is something not many freelancers and business owners talk about. I wish I had got the memo before starting the self employment journey in 2013!

I met Chris in 2015 at a Christmas market in Bristol. A pilot based out of Geneva and the owner of a ski chalet in France and pretty busy, we decided a few months later that a long distance relationship wasn’t for us.

As I was self employed, it was easier for me to move out to the French Alps to the small ski resort Les Contamines Montjoie. My business moved online pretty fast!

What I have experienced over the last few years working from home in isolation means that I wouldn’t have the business I have today. I created it from my own pain points. Hence why Creative Women’s Mastermind is about connecting with your cowokers online to get stuff done and grow your business without losing your sanity!

To anyone looking in to my life from the outside world would have thought I was living in my own romcom. Living with a Pilot in the French Alps, having lots of sunny european breaks. It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

As humans, we’re quick to make assumptions on the highlight reel from social media and make snap judgements.

But underneath, I was hiding a dark secret I was ashamed of.

I was 40 and feeling lonely and isolated working from home. No kids, parents or community, but the perfect gentleman whose life was controlled by an unforgiving airline roster and operated a ski chalet too!

This is why you can never judge a book by its cover because you don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.

I was self employed working from home and trying to convince myself I was ok every single day. Working from home in isolation is not ok. I discovered that you need human contact in your day, in whatever form that takes. If it’s video that’s ok as it’s still connecting with a fellow human.

Working from home on your own can be incredibly lonely and isolating and there’s lots of talk about it, given the current circumstances of Covid-19/Coronavirus and it is a justified concern.

We’re human beings and designed to connect with other humans, online or in real life.

Isolation and loneliness can damage your mental and emotional health and the bottom line of your business. To put it in perspective, isolation is still used as a torture method in some countries.

My confidence was affected, I was paralysed in making decisions and I doubted everything I created. I couldn’t move forward. I was afraid, stuck, comparing myself to others who were making their business work and then beating myself up. We are often our own worst enemies but the truth is; I was spiralling down into a black hole and I couldn’t stop. And that is because my mental and emotional health were not in tip top condition due to the loneliness and isolation.

Procrastination and distractions are always around the house. It takes a lot of strength to master self discipline to focus on getting stuff done working from home.

Where were my friends? Friends were busy living their lives in the UK with young families and careers. I think you’re getting the picture that I was not in a good place mentally or emotionally so I didn’t want them to hear my pitiful misery sucking the joy out of their lives!

Two young attractive women friends are drinking coffee, smiling, talking and sitting on the coach, looking at smart phone

I was ashamed to admit I was lonely and isolated working from home

I ‘shouldn’t’ have been feeling lonely at my age. To them I was living the dream! I was in a great place personally. But the knock on effect from my mental and emotional health tipped into my personal life.

I thought loneliness was reserved for the elderly but *more than half of British Adults (56%) say admitting to loneliness is difficult.

Loneliness and isolation is about to get very real for a lot of us who are going to be working from home who are not used to working this way. You’ll need to try and navigate the emotional and mental rollercoaster that you’re about to embark.

You may or may not have your families around you but you can still feel lonely in the context of your own career/business. You need to brainstorm ideas and find creative solutions. You’ll need to set up your home office. You’ll need to pull together with your biz buddies, coworkers, friends and family and help each other out. You need to surround yourself with like minded people who understand the journey you’re on.

Isolation is a subject very close to my heart. I’m a dab hand at dealing with isolation and that makes me really well placed to help you through it! It’s the exact reason I set up my business; connecting women who work from home to cowork and mastermind together to grow their business.

Take it from me you NEED community and human connection in your day. You will need to interact, laugh and still get stuff done with your confidence and mental & emotional health intact.

**88% of people believe that small moments of connection can help tackle loneliness. During the next few months, be proactive and reach out to those who are living alone, regardless of their age. Don’t wait to be contacted. Loneliness and isolation is not just for the elderly.

Staying sane and working from home in isolation – especially during Covid-19/Coronavirus

  • Connect online daily by video if you can. You’ll need the human contact, there’s no shame in it. Find a community you can work online with, it’s an essential ingredient to stay sane during testing times.
  • If you’re self employed and running a business on your own, join our like minded community to cowork with online. We keep each other company and hold each other accountable. Creative Women’s Mastermind are running some free coffee and coworking sessions. Sign up to the email list to find out more.
  • Interact and engage on video rather than be a passive participant. It can make all the difference to your working day. Don’t worry about how you look, it’s not a fashion show! 
  • Create yourself a schedule and routine working from home and form habits around certain anchors in your day i.e. brushing your teeth, tea break, lunch and afternoon breaks are great to build habits from. Routine and a schedule can make or break your productivity and lessen your faffing around time. You know what I’m talking about!
  • It’s important to create some boundaries too. Make sure you have a break from the screen and some time on your own, especially if you’re in a hectic household. Being alone is very different to feeling lonely.
  • Procrastination will become your arch enemy, make friends with it and learn to dance around each other with bargaining chips!
  • Distractions will also be a feature; the laundry pile and ironing become strangely appealing! Learn to recognise your distractions and set a time that you’ll do them, only after you’ve done a certain task…If you really want to go back to the laundry, you will but once you get going on your work again, you’re likely to keep going.
  • Switch off in the evenings (if you’re on a typical working 9-5 day) and think about starting that personal creative project – although ignore point 1 on this blog! If you don’t switch off, you’ll feel like you’re in a relationship with your screen 24/7!
  • Enjoy the peace and quiet working from home, especially if you’re used to working in an open plan office. Ahhhh….just make sure you’re enjoying it and not going stir crazy and heading into a negative spin.
  • If you haven’t got a home office, try and carve out your own dedicated work area and let your family know it’s off limits!

Enjoy your downtime

  • Make the most of the time you waste on commuting and catch up on family time, life admin or talk to some old friends. Enjoy some box sets, podcasts, radio programmes, board games, puzzles, crafting etc. Highly recommend keeping your spirits up with creativity.
  • Watch or listen to your favourite comedian – laughter is the best medicine! And right now there’s not a lot to laugh about so find something you know will make you laugh.
  • Start digging your garden to grow some veg and start creating some new recipes. Make them as nutritious as you can with the food you have available. Make some cakes to keep your loved ones happy and quiet!
  • Go outdoors for some fresh air and a short walk, even if it’s just around your garden. It’s really important to get some air into your lungs.

Think about your friends and family that live alone and are entering a phase of loneliness and isolation with Covid-19. They may not have a conversation with another human in their day. Reach out to them, cherish them and where possible bring them into your daily conversation. Think about your coworkers, friends and family who are single and living alone at this time, they will find it particularly tough.

Community is everything

Being in a community is paramount to help you feeling less lonely and isolated working from home. You have a number of tech platforms available – create message groups, group video calls and make it a habit in your day to have those regular conversations. 

Be a responsible human being. We need to support each other regardless of your view point. There are very vulnerable people living in our society. Don’t be a carrier of the Covid-19/Coronavirus and put them at risk. 

If you’re a woman in business working from home in isolation Creative Women’s Mastermind runs online events designed to help you connect, be productive and stay sane whilst working from home.

Join your fellow Creative Women for ‘Virtual Coffee and Coworking Mondays‘ for an hour at 11am UK time so you can start the week on with company and connection in your day. USA times coming soon.

I also host free 2 hour Online Coworking Sessions on the last Thursday of the month every month regardless of the virus. Sign up to the email list to receive details for both events.

Join more online sessions here if you’re looking for daily accountability, productivity, support, friendship and an awesome community.

*Based on the Censuswide survey of 2240 general consumers, including 504 65+year olds, in August and September 2017.

**Based on YouGov PLC survey of 2035 uk adults in April 2018.

Written by Amanda Kerin

Amanda Kerin is the founder of Creative Women’s Mastermind, an online Mastermind & Co-working Community. "It’s my mission to connect women in business working from home to alleviate isolation. We accelerate our businesses, learn from experts and each other, and get stuff done. Think of us as your board of savvy business women who have fun too!"

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I’m Amanda Kerin. Founder of Creative Women’s Mastermind.

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