As increasing numbers of us find ourselves working at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak, looking after our wellbeing and mental health is essential.
So why is self care so important when you work from home?
For many of us, it can be difficult to adjust to a new routine, a new working environment or even spending more time with our partners than we’re used to, so getting on top of our self care can really make a difference to our mindset and how we feel. You might also feel lonely at times and miss spending time with your colleagues, so working remotely can take some getting used to.
Read on to discover our self care tips for working from home and ideas from some wellness experts to help you feel less stressed.
17 ways to look after yourself while working from home
Make sure you follow a routine
Author, psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading recommends creating a feeling of regularity and rhythm in your day by following a loose routine: “Simple things like making your bed, tidying your work space, throwing open all the curtains to let maximum light in, having a shower and getting into clothes that help you feel put together, eating a nourishing breakfast so you have fed your brain and can think straight. Weave into that routine micro rituals to enhance energy and focus.”
Start the day with a morning self-care practice
“If you’re finding yourself with extra time now that you’re liberated from your usual morning commute, now is a good time to try putting a morning self-care practice into place,” says functional medicine certified health coach Suzy Glaskie of Peppermint Wellness. ” This really helps set the tone for the day and boosts your emotional resilience for whatever it throws at you.”
“Doing a mindfulness practice will help you calm any anxiety you’re feeling as the fear and uncertainty mount (I do the Calm app’s Daily Calm in the morning).”
Clear your mind at the end of the day using journalling
“Keep a nice pad by your bed and just pour out whatever is on your mind. You’ll be amazed at how calming it is to empty what’s in your head onto paper,” says Suzy Glaskie.
“A gratitude journal is a brilliant way to help you focus on the positive – more important now than ever. I’ve been using the Five Minute Journal technique every day for the past few years.”
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Try to avoid multitasking
Gemma Leigh Roberts, founder of Career Compass Club and organisational & performance psychologist, says that multitasking can actually make you less efficient: “When working from home, it may be tempting to be all over the company chat and emails to show that you are just as present when remote.
“But to be productive and use this time to get some work done, you need to move away from multitasking. Compartmentalise tasks and block out times in your calendar for them to create structure and focus.”
Organise your work space
Samantha Clarke, author of Love It or Leave It: How to be Happy at Work (Endeavor, £14.99), says that it’s important to think about how you set up your working space, just as you would if you were actually at work: “Make sure that you are actually creating a space or environment that is productive and conducive to work so it isn’t having adverse impact on your body. Look at your chair setup, look at the lighting. Think about how you how much time you’re spending on your laptop – can you prop your laptop up or look at the way that your screen is positioned?
“Some of that induced stress impacts in our bodies in different ways, especially as you’re sitting. Some people are working on sofas and a laptop on their on their laps because they don’t have a set office space. Try to create better environments for you to work effectively as well as looking after your body through this change, because we don’t know how long we’ll be working from home for.”
Create a ritual as part of your routine
“Light a candle with an energising scent to denote that it is time for work. Switch it up for something soothing when it’s time to down tools,” Suzy Reading says.
Take regular breaks to help you focus
“Give yourself permission to take breaks when concentration flags and infuse movement (good old chicken wing shoulder rolls work a treat),” says Suzy Reading. “Breathwork, mini restorative yoga poses like legs up the wall, music can help, or a dose of nature therapy/fresh air – even if its a just walk around the block where possible. You could also try gazing out the window at the moving cloudscape.”
Suzy Glaskie recommends pausing every 45 minutes and doing some gentle stretches and stresses the importance of taking regular screen breaks: “It’s easy to become chained to your laptop, promising you’ll take a break ‘just after I’ve replied to this email’ but make yourself go for a walk, preferably in nature – try a local park. You’ll come back feeling infinitely calmer, more clear-headed, more positive and ready to tackle your work.”
Make sure you have a dedicated work space in your home
If you can, try to set aside an area of your home as a place for work so that it doesn’t intrude into your home life. Suzy Glaskie says: “As far as possible, keep your work to one designated area and close the door on it when you’re done rather than returning to it repeatedly throughout the evening.
“Instead, treat yourself to something nurturing to signify it’s the end of the working day and it’s downtime: for example, reading a novel, listening to music or lying down with your legs up the wall – this is one of the most restorative things you can do and is a lovely way to de-stress.”
Samantha Clarke has been coaching a client who lives in a studio apartment and has been finding it very difficult to switch off. “We talked about zoning her space differently and, you know, creating a space where that is the work zone. And when she steps into it, she takes on her work persona. And finding that division will hopefully give her the space to feel ‘right when I come over here, I am relaxing and my laptop stays over there’. It’s almost like when you step into your house from work, you’re kind of drawing that line.”
Cut down on your screen time
If you can, make some time to get away from your screens. “The positive effects of nature on the mind peaks after about three days of really getting away, turning all devices off and being surrounded by a natural environment,” says Gemma Leigh Roberts.
“At home, we can mimic this with a spot of gardening or a brisk walk in the park to help boost the memory and help overcome creative blocks. Even doing some arts and crafts, reading a book or baking a cake can help — whatever takes you away from the screen for a good couple of hours each day.”
Get into a productive mindset
How are you setting yourself up for work every day? Samantha Clarke says you should think about what you need to do to mentally prepare yourself for work: “Have a shower, getting dressed, have your breakfast and be ready for work. And I think another thing that’s quite important.”
Go outside if you can
The situation is changing all the time so please check the latest advice in your area before you go outdoors, but if you’re able to get some fresh air it will do you the world of good. “If you can get outside first thing, do. Take a few deep breaths, look at the sky, note the subtle changes in trees and plants since the previous morning.,” Suzy Glaskie says. “If you can, place your bare feet on the grass – this is very grounding and a lovely way to reconnect with the Earth’s energy.”
Don’t let work spill into your leisure time
“Enjoy bringing your work to a close and don’t let it spool out into the evening,” Suzy Reading advises. “Switch off, unplug and recharge yourself so you can pitch up feeling fresh tomorrow.”
Use aromatherapy to help you focus
Suzy Glaskie recommends keeping a bottle of orange essential oil to hand and taking regular sniffs with deep inhalations. “This will help you feel energised, uplifted and clear-headed,” she says.
Dress for work
What you wear can have an impact on how motivated you feel. While working in your dressing gown might feel like one of the perks of working from home, Samantha Clarke believes that it can have a negative effect on your wellbeing.
“It affects your mental state. I think there’s something about getting dressed properly just energises you to think about something different for the day. For me work hasn’t really stopped. I have been fortunate enough that I did cultivate my business so I can do a lot of things online,” she explains.
“For me, it’s about getting into the day and really enjoying it. Being energised for my clients – to be ready to serve, to be ready to give. And I think if I just rolled up my PJs, I’m not investing in myself, so why should anyone think that I’d be able to invest in them?
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Choose your viewing carefully
“Be very choosy about what you listen to or watch,” Suzy Glaskie warns. “Don’t fall into the trap of listening to the news all day! I make a point of not having the news on any more in the morning. Instead, before I even check my emails, I put on a few minutes of a comedian on YouTube (Michael Macintyre is my favourite). Laughter is an amazing destressor and improves our overall wellbeing as well as our psychological wellbeing.”
Work on your social connections
If you work from home by yourself for extended periods of time, it can often be a very lonely experience, so Samantha Clarke believes that you need to work harder on maintaining your ties with friends and colleagues. “I’ve been plotting in a lot of Zoom (video conferencing) dates,” she says. Think of it as meeting your friend for coffee!
She thinks it’s a good idea to view any work phone calls as another opportunity to connect with your colleagues and suggests adding questions unrelated to work, such as what books they’re currently reading or what they’re feeling inspired by today.
Set healthy boundaries
When work and home life blur together, it’s important to set boundaries, according to Gemma Leigh Roberts: “I have spoken about this before to some of my clients with a home office. Think about how you would love your dream life to look like. Think about the ways that you normally would spend your weekends and evenings.
“Would you choose to answer emails at 10pm, or lie in bed? Or would you rather work ended at 7pm and you had time with your loved ones? If you start the day by bearing this in mind, you are more likely to stick to it.”
Featured image by Unsplash/Thought Catalog.