Mental Health Moments: How To Deal With Criticism When You Work From Home

By Kaylin R. Staten

Ah, working from home. It’s a dreamscape of productivity laced in everlasting coffee, never gaining weight from having a desk job and everyone respecting your ability and drive to maintain a successful company at home.

I’m definitely JUST KIDDING.

It’s often full of cats meowing at the top of their lungs for no reason while you’re on an important call, the laundry pile staring you down, interruptions during live webinars and distractions calling your name in all their tempestuous glory.

I began my company in my childhood bedroom at my parents’ house, and since the beginning, my desire for flexibility and passion for my work has been unmatched. In my world of communications, I am fortunate to be able to work in myriad environments, from the comfort of my own home office (the Hourglass Media Headquarters) to 2,000 miles away in my rented apartment in Paris on a rainy Saturday morning. Needless to say, I adore this company that I’m continuing to build.

One of the aspects that confounds me the most is the notion that just because I am home, I am available at a moment’s notice. While public relations principles are founded upon being ready at a moment’s notice and responsive to crisis communications, it’s still easy to get distracted by external “crises.” Whether it’s a personal phone call when you’re in the work groove or snide comments about you “just being at home,” it’s challenging to not let the comments and behaviors weigh you down. There are times I am free, but I keep a schedule, too, and honestly, it stays packed.

I allow my work to speak for itself, so I do not report to anyone but my clients and colleagues on projects and services. Still, however, others’ notions that I’m just sitting at home watching Netflix all day puts a strain on my self-esteem, especially when it comes from left field from people.

So, yes. I run a successful company out of my home, as crazy at it is sometimes (especially when you have to balance home and work lives simultaneously).

How do I eliminate anxiety and boost my self-esteem when I work from home? Here are three sure ways to denounce criticism without blinking an eye and letting your work speak for itself when you work from home:

Get your morning routine down pat.

I’ve been obsessed with my morning routines as of late. What you do right when you wake up shapes the rest of your day, and it can even give you that extra boost of confidence when you have to deal with negative energy. The first thing I do is text my husband and say good morning to my cats. I brew some coffee and sit down with my to-do list. The first hour or so of my day is for me as I prepare for the day and write in my journal, read for pleasure or work on a creative project.

Set boundaries.

This is VITAL. When someone calls you and wants to discuss something personal when you’re right smack dab in the middle of working, be honest and up front with them. If you can’t talk about it at that time, say you will call them back when you get a free moment. Look, I am a people pleaser, so this is challenging for me. But, your time is valuable, and the time with your company is even more valuable. Time is money, as they say. If you allow people to keep interrupting you without saying something, they will keep doing it. Also, it’s important to set internal boundaries. Limit your distractions, whatever those could be, whether it’s social media scrolling or reading random articles on the Internet. Save that for break time. Something that helps me is maintaining a social-media timer on my iPhone. I have it set to an hour per day for social media. I know, that sounds NUTS for someone in the communications industry, but it prevents me from mindlessly scrolling without intention. If I need to do something for Hourglass Media or a client, I allow myself that freedom and tell my phone to remind me in 15 minutes.

Focus on yourself.

While this could be challenging in the throes of negativity, when you focus on yourself and your successes, your mindset will slowly begin to change. You will be able to look at negativity square in the face and objectively assess the situation. What do we say to the God of Negativity? “Not today.” Others’ pessimism can be contagious, so avoid it as much as possible. I use my master list of affirmations to ensure that I still remain positive when external (and to be honest, internal) darkness pervades my life. You can do whatever helps you, whether that is exercise, writing, turning off your phone… whatever helps you focus on yourself, the task at hand and your business.

Please note: These blog posts are not clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.


Kaylin R. Staten, APR, is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer based in Huntington, WV with nearly 16 years of professional communications experience. As CEO and founder of Hourglass Media, she uses her compassionate spirit and expertise to delve into the heart of clients’ stories. She is a recovering perfectionist, mental health advocate, wife, cat mom and Leia Organa aficionado. Connect with Kaylin on LinkedIn.