Your Work-From-Home Self-Care Guide
How to keep your mental and physical health while working from home.
An increasing number of professionals all around Europe are working remotely for the time being. Employees, managers, and freelancers who used to go on-site for work are now taking their duties to the online world.
The situation is not the most fortunate one because most employees haven't had the time to actually prepare for this big change. Consequently, employees who are just getting the hang of working from home don't have the chance to understand it's true benefits as they were just rushed into this process. So your company probably doesn't yet have the resources and tools needed to make this type of work efficient.
In normal circumstances, remote workers are actually happier than their in-office counterparts. Now, on the other hand, many people share the common feelings that they’re stuck at home and unable to concentrate on their tasks.
Beyond any work, we all need a bit of town downtime now and then since your mental health always comes first. But you do need to get creative with your self-care strategies.
These next steps will help anybody whether you dislike working remotely or you're like me and have been doing this for a few years now because it positively impacts your life.
Assessing the situation.
The first thing we all need to do is clearly think about the whole situation. Consider the pros and cons, the things you can change, and those that do not depend on you. Try to come up with solutions for doing the things you love inside for the time being.
There is nothing to be scared about. Literally anything you’ve done outside before can also be done from the comfort of your home and yes, you can still stay sane for the time being. The reason you have to evaluate how things are going is that this will help you get in the right mindset and understand this isn’t going to be your life forever.
The best advice I have for you is to talk to someone who is introverted and has been spending most of their days inside. These people often know the best ways of having fun inside or spending your time in a productive and relaxing way as well.
Don't assume you need to stop socializing.
The current situation with social distancing is temporary. We're talking just a couple of months. This will help keep all of the people you love safe and then you’ll be able to freely enjoy talking to them and meeting them in real life when everything is cleared up.
Sure you’ll feel lonely and frustrated from time to time, but this doesn't mean you need to fully disconnect yourself from the people who are dear to you. Technology is proving itself even more important during this time as it allows us to still interact with our friends and family normally. It's just the physical closeness that's not there.
You might feel like your social life has been put on hold but this is not true. There are honestly hundreds of ways for you to still keep up with the social life you've had before. Just in different ways. You can always FaceTime your family constantly or have a video chat with your friends instead of meeting up with them at a coffee shop. People are having virtual parties, board game nights, and are even cooking together using video stream of these days.
Video is a savior.
Video chatting or just talking on the phone and streaming what you're doing every day will help you maintain that human contact we all need. You’ll hear other people's voices, see their faces, and you will learn to empathize with them, support each other, and offer help as much as possible. “What I am doing now is catching up on video calls with friends and family or on phone calls with friends and family (which isn't as common as it once was since we are all so connected digitally i.e. social media). Staying connected in creative ways is so important during this time,” said Laura Orrico.
You can now just make your coffee at home, sit on the couch, and talk to each other the way you normally would but from the comfort of your own homes. This is also a very convenient option for people who wouldn’t normally feel like going out anyway as it will give them more opportunities to communicate and keep in touch with friends.
Plan your day in detail.
Divide your day into rough chunks each dedicated to life and work respectively in order to make sure you put a boundary between anything that's related to your duties for your job and the other part of your life including family, friends, and hobbies. Currently, the biggest problem people who are working remotely have is that they’re finding it difficult to distance themselves from work once they’re done because they've literally spent their entire day working from their own home.
Steve Raack who’s been working remotely for four years names setting boundaries as the key to balancing remote work and life: “If you don't set boundaries, you'll find yourself pulling out your laptop at 7:30 p.m. because someone from work sent you a text that has you say, ‘What the heck, I'll answer it.’ Then you end up working for 30+ minutes and your family only sees you working from home and not doing anything else."
Naturally, people can’t make the subconscious difference between work and life when staying in the same environment. If you have a set schedule from your company when you're supposed to be doing your calf then that's perfect because you will probably have to work for 8 hours and then just focus on something else.
If on the other hand, you have more freedom with how you manage your schedule to work when you are most productive first, for instance in the morning for 4 hours. Then, put in the other 4 hours of work in the evening for administrative or repetitive tasks that don't require your full creativity and analytical skills since you might be more tired towards the end of the day. Many remote workers including Stephanie Johnson have noticed this also helps them find stability: “It's good to schedule it because the lines between work and home can begin to cross and you can find yourself still working at 9 p.m. without having taken a real break.”
Don't stop your travel plans.
Traveling is not necessarily related to work, however, it’s something that many people are into and giving up on traveling as an idea is going to be detrimental for their sanity. Instead, think about the time you have right now as the perfect opportunity for you to prepare your next trips. Use these few weeks or months to plan your next getaways for a couple of years. You don't have to buy any tickets, just make your itineraries and find unique places that will take you off the beaten path.
One thing I've been doing instead of worrying that I can’t go anywhere is taking this chance to actually see places I wouldn't really be able to go to in the next year after all. Museums as available on Google and can be visited online through their street-view. You are literally walking inside the museum from your house. The best part? Everything is free. No traveling, no costs for transportation, no tickets.
Attend events online.
Most events are now canceled but companies have found other creative ways for people to still enjoy cultural and educational activities. There are now conferences that are online, the Paris Opera and other theatres in multiple countries are showing their shows for free, you can always simply attend and a Twitter chat, a LinkedIn live event, or your favorite stand-up show online.
Keep an eye on local events that were supposed to be held during this time because many of them are switching to the online world.
It's now a better time than ever to focus on your fitness goals. You solely need this free time to get consistent results. I started working out regularly last year during Christmas time because I had three free weeks, but you can do this right now. Once you find the style of exercise you prefer, you’ll stick to it. There are so many options to opt for. From yoga and stretching to weightlifting.
Now that you’re no longer commuting or doing your usual in-city activities, you need to put even more focus on staying in your best shape. “Prior to going remote, I could never seem to fit in exercise. I would find myself commuting all over the city, getting stuck in traffic jams and having to cancel end-of-day yoga classes. Now, as a remote worker, I don't have to battle rush hour, so the 45 minutes I would have used to drive home... I get to use that for self-care! I have found that staying active and committing to a set workout routine has helped reduce stress and improve my peace of mind," says Erica Swallow.
Taking care of your body first is also going to help you mentally. Not only will this keep you and your immunity at top levels but it will also improve your productivity and how you unwind because it's taking so many of your negative thought off your mind.
Professional development without the pressure.
Careers are a huge part of our lives. It's only expected of you to always think about growing professionally even if you’re physically away from work. If you're able to distance yourself from all current events for a few hours you can definitely take a couple of online courses or read books from your industry without feeling the pressure that you've got a deadline or need to ready for a project.
If you're like me and you're a bit too concerned with everything and you just can't always focus, find innovative ways of maintaining your professional growth. One thing I do at this time is talking to people. This helps me expand my network and get my mind cleared while also receiving advice from other professionals who might be struggling with the same issues.
You can also use this time to talk about any problems you might experience, putting everything on paper or digitally on your blog, in an eBook, or on social media. Speaking your mind is going to help you better understand the situation you're facing and get in touch with other people who are willing to share their own advice so we can all get through this tough time and still be in our top shape professionally.
Pick up a new hobby.
In almost three years of working remotely I've had roughly 20 hobbies. In my specific case, I like to change my interests every now and then. Maybe a bit too often. The whole point behind this is that instead of spending 2 + hours on a commute, you can dedicate that time to a new hobby you've always wanted to pick up.
This will help you stay sane by replacing the need for social interaction you might have. Instead of going to the mall or a restaurant, you can start reading more, listening to podcasts, dancing around, learning a musical instrument, becoming a master chef, learning a new language, or just simply taking time to relax.
Don't let distractions postpone your duties.
If you have your family at home, there are bound to be distractions all the time. This is why you need a designated workspace where no one else is allowed and where you’ll feel safe working without any interruptions, knowing that whenever you're there you'll have to work. Barrie Cohen, remote PR professional, advises to also pay attention to how you organize your desk: “For me, it's all about creating an ambiance that reflects calmness, serenity, and warmth. Every day, I light a candle on my desk and it instantly makes me feel more relaxed and centered.”
But the real distractions are the ones in your mind. My biggest problem right now is just the fact that I'm always thinking of the things going on in the world. If you too tend to sometimes click on an article or video you really want to see, just bookmark it and get back to it later when you have the time.
No need to overexert yourself.
Breaks are much needed. While many of us might have thought this time would be perfect for us to keep making progress, focus on our careers, and just grow our businesses, understand that taking time to relax is perfectly fine. At this time, it’s very difficult for us anyway to focus on other issues than the ones impacting everyone. So you should never feel guilty that you've spent a day on Netflix or a week watching YouTube videos, anime, or even cartoons with your children.
Remember to take things one at a time. Quit multitasking and focus on one single task at hand. Take breaks even when you don’t feel like you need one. Check in with your family and friends. Do some work. Take another break. Just make everything as relaxing as possible to also keep your mental health in check.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP