How to Stay Healthy and Calm While Working From Home

With the COVID-19 crisis, suddenly professionals are scrambling to transplant their work life into their homes, having video conference calls, all while navigating this “new normal.” As a person with several years of experience working from home, here are six practical things that have helped me to stay healthy and calm while working and social distancing at home.

1 | Put on real clothes every day, but make them comfy.

There’s a reason that this tip is always on a list of work from home to do’s. There is nothing that you gets you in a better frame of mind to work than wearing proper clothing.

Now, this doesn’t mean that you can’t be comfortable. Having worked for home for the past few years, I’ve developed a whole wardrobe of comfy clothes. I admit that sometimes it feels a bit ridiculous to roll out of bed and change from comfy pajama pants into equally comfortable pants, but just the demarkation in the day– I’m no longer in my sleeping clothes– does so much for my mindset.

Makeup and hair are optional. A shower, honestly, sometimes happens mid-morning. And shoes are a thing of the past. But still, with that change to real clothes, I feel so much more mentally equipped for the day. And, if a video conference call crops up, I have a head start.

2 | Set up a designated work space.

While working from the bed or couch might sound comfortable, when the work day is done, and the only place you have to relax is the same bed or couch, it will start to feel confining.

Not everyone has a luxury of an office space but even setting up at the kitchen table or island can help to delineate work and relaxation spaces in your house.

One work-from-home newbie quickly ordered a child’s desk as the coronavirus crisis was hitting. She set it up by the window in her bedroom and has been loving having a dedicated workspace, even if it is only 2 feet from her bed.

3 | Keep your house clean and tidy.

It will be hard to concentrate on work if every time you glance up you see a pile of dishes, or laundry to fold.

And it’s better to take care of these things as they come up so that they do not become overwhelming later. This can be as simple as washing your plate after you have lunch or putting your clothes in the hamper, instead of throwing them on a chair.

Remember those trips to the coffee machine you used to take at the office? Replace that with a spray and wipe down of the kitchen counter instead!

4 | Keep a schedule and set goals.

Setting goals for the day has always been important, but now more than ever. A simple list of small tasks you would like to accomplish written down each morning will give you a path forward so that you do not get lost in the day. And, at the end of the day, looking back at what you have accomplished– even if it’s only one or two things– will give you an emotional boost.

A note of warning: Do not give yourself too many or too ambitious goals. It’s important to remember that we are all experiencing a degree of anxiety because of this crisis, so be kind to yourself and recognize your emotional limits.  Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish all you set out to do.

A schedule can be a loose thing. Even just a wake up time, a start work, and stop work time can make a difference in your state of mind.

5 | Avoiding overeating, drink water, and do light exercise.

Don’t neglect your physical health while confined to home. Keep a glass of water next to you and sip from it often. Take breaks to walk around your house or around the block if you are able. And while it may be tempting to dive into comfort foods, make sure to avoid overeating and bingeing on junk foods.

6 | Take care of yourself emotionally.

This reaches a bit beyond advice about work and into the realm of emotional self care.

  • Get your news from reliable sources. There is a lot of misinformation or highly politicized news available. Pick just one or two reputable sources of information and filter out the rest.
  • Avoid using or exposing yourself to dramatic language. The truth is, the words we use matter. Saying that we will never return to normal or that we will never recover is self-defeating and will set the tone for how we view our situation.
  • Look beyond immediate inconvenience. Things will get better. So while you may be experiencing inconvenience in the short term, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
  • Think kindly of others. Our attitude toward others will affect how we treat them as well as how we view our own situation. So don’t think  of hoarding people as being selfish, but instead as scared. This will make us compassionate toward them.
  • And, as always, reaching out to help others is a great way to keep balanced. Set up a call list of people who may be struggling who you can check in on from time to time. Look for opportunities to be generous with others, even those you do not know well.

And if you are a parent working from home with small children, you are a rock star!

Wishing you all well as you navigate this new challenge.

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