Five years ago, I was working for a nationally-syndicated talk show and although it was a rewarding experience, it was also very stressful. Logging 80-hour weeks, I had an unhealthy diet, I rarely worked out and I had no time to do anything, much less have a social life. When I took my next job—a work at home gig for a magazine, I had no idea how much it would positively impact my health and my life.
Working in my new position allowed me to successfully train—and raise more than $3,500 dollars—for a charity half-marathon, teach a Spinning® class once a week and work out on a regular basis. I also made healthier food choices because I was cooking every meal at home, and there weren’t any sweets lying around—something that often happens in offices. I also had more free time to spend with family and friends.
Although I worked more hours than I would have if I was punching the 9 to 5 clock in the office, I was actually more productive and less stressed out. Plus, I realized I wasn’t getting sick during the winter months as often. I felt healthy both physically and mentally, and my life became much more balanced.
I still work from home while also caring for my daughter full-time. It isn’t for everybody, but if you’re an overwhelmed mom like me, an at-home arrangement may make sense for you too.
Since working from home gives you more control over how you work, you’re more likely to be satisfied with your job and less stressed out. “Whenever a person gains a sense of autonomy, it significantly reduces feelings of helplessness,” according to Dr. Ash Nadkarni, resident physician in the Department of Psychiatry at Boston Medical Center.
Being stressed out by your commute as well as the financial burden of transportation, mileage and childcare costs can also be reduced or eliminated by working from home. A study in the Journal of Health Economics found that commuting to and from work negatively impacted women’s mental health, especially for moms with pre-school aged children. What’s more, because 75 to 90 percent of ailments are triggered by stress, you’re less likely to end up in the doctor’s office if you telecommute.
A Healthier Lifestyle
If you skip breakfast, grab take-out for lunch, or hit the vending machine for an afternoon pick-me-up, working from home can change that. “You have more choices to eat better when you’re in control of your environment, and you are at home,” said Ali Brown, an entrepreneur and business mentor for women. Brown’s employees—99 percent of whom are women who telecommute, say because they have enough time to make healthy dinners, their families eat healthier too.
According to Dr. Nadkarni, because people who work from home are more satisfied with their sense of freedom and control, they structure their time so they’re able to work out regularly and take breaks throughout the day, and they’re more mindful of themselves and what they need to lead a healthy life.
More Work-Life Balance
A work from home position can have big payoffs when it comes to finding the eternal balance between having a career or simply bringing in extra money and nurturing a family. According to a recent survey conducted by Staples Advantage, more than 80 percent of employees say they now have a better work-life balance because they work from home.
Women entrepreneurs are also making strides, opening their own businesses at one and a half times the national rate. From 1997 to 2011, the number of women-owned firms increased by fifty percent, according to a recent report by American Express OPEN. Although the biggest barrier for working women has always been their desire to have families, telecommuting is making it much easier. “Now with technology, this has leveled the playing field for women finally,” according to Brown, who said she has seen women transform when they start working from home. “Their lives suddenly become much more balanced,” she said.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer specializing in parenting, health, and women's issues and a mom. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com