Woman working at her computer
Health & Wellness

5 Ways to Practice Self-Care While Working From Home

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It is hard to believe that it has been almost one year since this pandemic started and I began working from home full-time. Yet despite the length of time, I’m still not really used to it!

There are definitely pros to working remotely, like a more flexible and relaxed schedule, work environment, and dress code. However, there are some definite cons as well. Primarily the repeated distractions and interruptions that come with my whole family being here full-time as well. Including a 5 year old who is completing kindergarten remotely.

I never in a million years would have envisioned his first elementary school experience taking place solely on an IPad. But like many families across the country (and world), we are trying to make the best of it.

I realize I am coming from a place of privilege with respect to my WFH situation. I am thankful to have help at home that allows me to try to focus on work each day. And a beautiful, heated, semi-private porch that doubles as my home office. I am also very fortunate to have the flexibility to work from home, as I know many employers have required their staff to return to the office, despite the ongoing public health situation.

And yet, it’s still hard.

However, now that we’ve somewhat settled into a routine with all of us home 24/7, I have found a few ways to practice self-care throughout the work day to help preserve my sanity during this incredibly challenging time.

Since I know many are struggling with similar challenges, I wanted to share a few of the things that have worked for me thus far.

Essential oils being added to a diffuser
  1. If you read one of my early blog posts, How to Incorporate Essential Oils Into Your Daily Routine, you know that I am a regular essential oil user. I keep a diffuser out on the porch, and often start my work day by diffusing an essential oil that is uplifting, or specifically designed for attention and focus.

    My preferred brand is doTerra, but I have bought Ellia oils as well. Doterra’s Citrus Bloom or Cheer are on regular rotation in my office. Or Ellia’s “Get Going” blend. All three tend to be energizing and mood-boosting for me and make my office feel a bit more “spa like”.

    This is one benefit of working from home. We were discouraged from diffusing oils in the office when I was actually going in to work. In case the smells bothered co-workers who were sensitive to different scents.

  2. I often start my day by launching the Daily Wellness playlist that is curated for me on Spotify. I am a Spotify Premium subscriber, since I got a great combination deal with Hulu and Showtime because of my graduate student status. (Here are a few other student discounts you should know about ICYMI).

    If you have Spotify Premium, under Your Library you will see a category called “Made For You”. This is where I first discovered Daily Wellness, which is a mix of music, talk, and meditation to guide you through your day.

    Each day offers a fresh new mix that starts with a meditation, which can help set an intention and focus for the day. I honestly never thought I would practice daily meditation, but guided breathing and reflective exercises actually do seem to help clear my mind, reduce stress, and make me more productive throughout my day.

  3. I am someone who really struggles with focus if I am continually interrupted or surrounded by distractions. Like, I will put earbuds in and not even turn them on, just to drown out any background noise because I prefer to work in silence if I really need to focus or absorb information. Which yes, is contradictory to my previous point, of listening to music and talk to start my day.

    Even when I let them both know that I will be in a meeting, for some reason, both my husband and child will come out on the porch, or decide that is the exact moment they need to get into the garage. Sometimes, I’ll lock the door to keep them out, which doesn’t feel right to me. But I have been interrupted enough times (including in the middle of a 20 minute presentation I was giving to my ENTIRE SCHOOL) that sometimes it kind of feels necessary.

    In any sense, I finally bought myself some noise reducing, wireless earbuds to help tune out the distractions. Particularly the temper tantrums that often happen throughout the virtual school day.

    Because I am frugal, I could not bring myself to spend over $100 on earbuds, which I know will probably go unused when I return to the office. Yes, I could use them on walks or while working out, but I generally like to use that time to be alone with my thoughts. Or listen to the ambient sounds of nature instead.

    So, I got myself a $25 pair, which actually work quite well. I can use them on Teams meetings or Zoom calls as well. Which allows me to pay closer attention to the meeting or other person (or people) on the call.

  4. Just like when I was going into the office, I take a lunch break away from my desk almost every single day. I pretty much eat like clockwork with breakfast between 8:30-9:00 a.m.; lunch at noon; and dinner between 6:00-6:30 p.m.

    During the summer, I would often watch Family Feud with my family over my lunch hour. Throughout the fall, I took a couple of days per week to spend that time helping my kiddo out with school, so I was playing an active role in supporting him as well. The noon hour is always a fun class, like gym, music, or art. So, a few times, I even did the kindergarten work out with him in the livingroom or basement, to build a little physical activity into my day as well.

    Key point here: TAKE A LUNCH BREAK. And do not work through it at your desk. We all need to a break sometimes. Walk away. Give your eyes a rest from the screen. And use that time to either spend with your family, take a walk, or catch up on your favorite show. You are still entitled to that time.

  5. Lastly, and this is probably the biggest work in progress for me, is to try to get outside even for 15 minutes a day. There have been many days when I haven’t even left the house. And I know my mental health suffers as a result.

    So, if it works for you to take a brisk walk on your lunch hour – DO IT. Or, at the very end of the day, take a quick stroll around the neighborhood to serve as your “commute” and transition your mind from work back to home.

    I’ve seen different articles that mention the lack of Vitamin D we are all experiencing by staying inside all the time. And I know, even short amounts of fresh air and sunshine make me feel refreshed. Plus, exercise produces endorphins and is good for your health in any amount.

    So, use some of the flexibility that working from home provides to try to get outside each day. Even if it means dragging your family along with you.

    I hope this gives you a few new ideas to try to improve your overall mental health and well-being while working from home during a pandemic. I do believe that even a few little tweaks to your daily routine can do wonders in the long run.

    Be well.
Woman listening to headphones outdoors

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