3 Ways to Overcome the Challenges of Remote Work


Following the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), many people have found their daily lives thrown out of balance. As quarantines become more common and countries go into lockdown, you may find your options for activities limited. Further, you may find commuting into the office to no longer be feasible. Instead, you’ll end up working remotely.

While many have a romanticized vision of remote work—not getting out of bed until the last possible section, doing all your work in your pajamas, etc.—you’ll quickly find it’s far more difficult than one might assume. And if you struggle with or have struggled in the past with alcohol or drug addiction, being isolated at home can be even more challenging for you.

The rhythm of getting up and going to work can provide vital structure for those in recovery, and when that routine is broken, sometimes a lapse in sobriety can follow. Further, social distancing can limit the amount of in-person interaction you have, particularly with your support network.

While all Americans will have to make sacrifices in the coming months, you don’t have to sacrifice your health, connections, or recovery. These 3 ways to overcome the challenges of remote work can help you keep productive and maintain your sobriety.

Create a Positive Workplace

bright and comfortable home officeWe all have a unique set of needs, whether at work or in sobriety. In the office, you’ve probably set your desk up to best maximize your productivity. Maybe you’ve some family photos or keepsakes scattered about. Or perhaps your desk has only the essentials: pens, papers computer, telephone, etc. Whatever your setup, you’ve likely optimized your desk to help you keep focus on your work. Doing something similar to your workspace at home can be equally as beneficial.

One of the first things to do would be to remove your remote workplace of any clutter. Not only will this remove little frustrations, but the sense of accomplishment will also give you a boost to get you through the day. It may also be a good idea to remove any distractions. There should be no television, video games, or smartphones in your workspace.

Additionally, it’s important to have a positive outlook while in recovery. Not only can the act of creating a positive workplace imbue you with a sense of accomplishment, but the increased productivity can help you establish a sense of purpose.

Put Household Chores on Hold

Maybe the garden needs tending, or perhaps your bookshelves need to be alphabetized. The kitchen could probably always be a bit cleaner. It can be tempting to put off work and focus on personal projects around the house. It’s best to avoid falling into the trap of substituting household chores for work. You’re still on the clock, and you wouldn’t be doing chores if you were at the office.

Additionally, while the quality of your house may improve, your recovery may not. First, by prioritizing chores, you’re putting work on hold. If you’ve not completed your work by the end of the day, this can put you in a negative mindset, one that can carry into other areas of life. Further, if you become overwhelmed by both work and chores, you could end up getting more stressed. This could lead to a return to unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drinking. For your recovery, it’s best to focus on work during the day, and save chores for a later date.

Disconnect for a Bit

While it can be easy to take a break at work, it may not be so obvious while working remote. Without coworkers stopping by for a chat or the need to visit the water cooler, you could find yourself forgoing breaks while working remote. It’s important not to omit these practices, as they provide the brain with a necessary breather.

Under normal circumstances, breaking for a bit could mean trekking about the office, heading out for a coffee, or doing a quick errand in the neighborhood. However, because of social distancing guidelines, your options may be limited. Luckily, there are several opportunities to disconnect from your work for a bit.

  • If you are located near Tampa, Florida, you could go for a walk along the beach. Avoid those teeming with spring breakers and keep with social distancing requirements. There are dozens within driving distance that remain open to the public during the pandemic.
  • Tour a virtual museum. Across the country there are several museums that offer virtual tours. The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, is one of these museums. If you’re in need of a break, consider taking a quick look around.
  • Read a book. The Hillsborough County Public Library Cooperative offers several ebook sharing programs. If you need to disconnect from work for a minute, download a book and read a chapter.

Conquering Substance Abuse and Social Isolation

What you’ll find out early on when you start social distancing is that maintaining your mental health is paramount. It can be easy to retreat from the world and from others, but there are noticeable benefits to staying connected. For those in recovery, there are opportunities to stay connected with others.

For example, these organizations have started hosting virtual recovery meetings:

However you work remote during the pandemic, remember that social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Keeping yourself positive and focused can help you remain productive on work and recovery.

But if that positivity is difficult to find, and you’re worried you’ll abuse substances and relapse, in-person help is still available to you. American Addiction Centers’ facilities are still open and providing life-saving addiction treatment to those who need it. Call 813-551-3608 if you’d like more information on our treatment programs.



About The Contributor

Laura Close
Laura Close

Senior Web Content Editor, American Addiction Centers

Laura Close is a Senior Web Content Editor at American Addiction Centers and an addiction content expert at River Oaks Treatment Center. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and has nearly a decade in professional editing experience that... Read More


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