Life & Design

What is home separation anxiety, and is it affecting you? Here is everything you need to know

More than two-thirds of those working from home are scared about returning to society – this is how to make the transition easier

Home separation anxiety
(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

As restrictions gradually ease across the world, we face a new threat to our routines, and it is affecting more than two-thirds of employed adults. A recent study discovered that 67 percent of employed adults feel anxious at the thought of parting with their homes once society resumes, while 43 percent said they felt more attached to their homes. 

See: Traditional living room ideas – classic decor looks for walls, floors and furniture

The research, conducted by Hotpoint, also focuses on the return to an office and found a third of UK workers will miss the comforting aura their home has brought them over the previous year. Seventy-one percent of the women revealed their anxieties, while 60 percent of male respondents also shared their fears for the outside world.

A large proportion of people have already experienced home separation anxiety, but how do we know if we are affected? And what can we do to reduce the fear and ease ourselves back into the world? We spoke to Behavioural Psychologist Jo Hemmings, who shared her advice. 

Home separation anxiety, Dorset farmhouse house tour

(Image credit: Paul Raeside/Future)

How do we know if home separation anxiety will affect us?

'You first realize it's happening when everyone around you begins to take advantage of all the opportunities that are slowly unfolding, and you feel like you don't want to partake in them. It could be because you've always been a homebody, but for many others, it's because we've got so used to being at home,' Jo begins. 

'Many of us have enhanced our home environment by decorating, and we've been told it's the one place that is safe, so we're not going to want to leave,' she explains. 

What can we do to make our return to society easier? 

'It can be a good idea to practice your commute at an off-peak time, and bring special things into the workplace, so you don't miss certain comfort elements of your home,' Jo shares. The psychologist emphasizes Hotpoint's suggestion that one in five workers intend to bring sentimental items into their office, including homeware, comfy clothing, their favorite mug or houseplant. 

See: 5 low maintenance house plants – fantastic foliage you can ignore

'This will remind you that home is only a short journey away,' she adds. 

Home separation anxiety, Bedroom lighting ideas

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

Which age group is most affected by home separation anxiety?

Perhaps the most surprising finding of the research is that younger people, particularly, 8-24-year-olds are most likely to suffer from home separation anxiety, as 62 percent have confessed to feeling anxious about their return to everyday life. Meanwhile, only 46 percent of 25-34-year-olds felt the same way.

'It's a reversal of what I expected. I suppose this is because this age group has had a relatively short life, so a bigger percentage of their life has been spent indoors. Whereas, if you're older, it's a much smaller percentage. It's such a distinct chunk that you will be scared of what it's like to go back out there,' Jo explains. 

Home separation anxiety, country decorating ideas

(Image credit: Paul Raeside/Future)

Which colors allow us to manage separation anxiety whilst at home?

'We are influenced by the seasons, so I would go for a color palette that is lighter and brighter in the summer and cozier and darker in the winter,' Jo explains.

'You don't want to go for massive dollops of primary colors because they're not relaxing. I would go for a neutral of some sort, but add little pops of color through accessories that give you boosts of endorphins, rather than the cortisol, which is a stress hormone that we have all had run through us for a long time,' she adds.

See: Decorating with white – 10 pure, fresh and oh-so sophisticated ideas

'However, it's not necessarily the color, but it's the personal things you add to a room that affects how you feel. If a space is unique and it represents you, then this should reduce anxiety,'

If you're feeling anxious at the thought of returning to society, remember you are in the majority. Go at your own pace and speak to those around you for support throughout this changing time. 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.