How to Prioritize Self-care and Well-being When Working from Home
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Working from home has become increasingly more commonplace since the beginning of the pandemic, but it can also come with its own set of challenges, particularly when it comes to maintaining mental health and well-being. There are quite a few things that impact the ability to work from home without feeling entirely controlled by your job. There is a significant lack of structure and social interaction, and the blurring of boundaries between work and personal life can lead to feelings of stress, burnout, and even depression. Being able to take stock of yourself and your needs when working from home can make all the difference. In this post, we’ll take the time to explore some strategies for prioritizing self-care and staying on top of your well-being while working from home, specifically for millennials.
Firstly, if you haven’t really taken the time to think about what self-care means, there is a post about it here, otherwise, let’s define what we mean by self-care in this context. Self-care refers to the practices, activities, and habits that we use to maintain balance in our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. In particular, the way that we stay in tune with those needs and how we can appropriately address them.
It is so important to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Particularly because of the immense pressure and stress that we have had to internalise as a result of our lives changing entirely since the beginning of 2020. Prioritising our well-being is the best way for us to make sure that we can keep doing what we need to in our daily lives, and also make sure that we are able to achieve optimal performance and productivity when working from home.
Alright, let’s get into it.
One of the most important strategies for prioritizing self-care and well-being while working from home is to establish a solid and consistent routine.
When we consider the way that our daily lives operate when we’re not working from home, we all have some kind of routine that keeps our day flowing, and us feeling like we are in control. This is no different when you’re working from home. Using a good planner or planning tool can help to make this strategy easy to maintain.
Having a set schedule for when to start and end work can help to create a sense of structure and purpose. It also helps to keep you motivated to get through whatever your workload for the day may look like. A routine could include setting specific times for starting work, taking breaks, and ending work, and absolutely committing to following through on those.
It’s important to stick to this schedule as much as possible and to make sure that there is a clear distinction between work time and personal time. There is nothing worse than allowing your work to seep into your daily life when you’re working in your normal environment, so try to treat your work-from-home space the same way: take your full breaks, and finish work when your hours are up for the day!
Another important aspect of prioritizing self-care and well-being while working from home is to create a designated workspace. This could be a separate room or just a specific area in your home where you can work. Ideally, the workspace has no overlap with common or high-traffic spaces that are used in the house. Basically, this ensures that you are setting yourself up to be able to have some kind of separation between the spaces you relax in and the space you will be working in. It’s important to make sure that this workspace is comfortable, and ergonomic, with good lighting, and an organized work surface. This will help you to focus on your work and minimize distractions.
Another strategy is to set boundaries with family and friends. Realistically this gives you the space to be able to focus on whatever your task is without feeling guilty for not being available to the people who you share your space with. Start by letting people know that you are working and should not be disturbed during certain hours. Because there is an overlap in the space, when you are home it can be easy for people to assume that you are available, and making your hours known can reduce the amount of interference that you will have to run. It also enables you to minimise distractions in the space.
Setting a boundary alongside having a designated workspace, it is also important to make sure that your workspace is free from other home distractions such as turning off your phone or leaving it in another room, closing unnecessary tabs on your computer, and limiting social media and personal internet use during the hours that you’ve identified as your work hours.
The same goes for setting clear boundaries about the way that you work when working from home. This means logging off when you’ve finished your work hours, and not working more than you are expected to in a single day. And as mentioned above, you should take your full break when you are taking a tea break or a lunch break. Try to make sure that you are not eating at your desk and working while you’re having lunch, letting the lines between your break times and working hours overlap. These kinds of boundaries are just as important as making sure that you are giving your work the attention it deserves from you.
One of the most effective ways to prioritize self-care and well-being while working from home is to engage in regular physical activity. This doesn’t mean dropping everything and heading to the gym in the middle of the day – though if that works for you and your work hours then that is definitely something to consider!
Sitting for long periods of time can lead to feelings of fatigue, muscular discomfort, and loss of focus. Not to mention the negative impacts that sitting for extended periods can have on your mental and physical health! Including physical activity in your work-from-home routine doesn’t need to be a mammoth task. Beginning with something as simple as taking regular breaks throughout the day to move, stretch, and get some fresh air can make a significant difference to your overall well-being. Alternatively, as you become more comfortable with your working routine, physical activity breaks could include leaving the house and taking a short walk around the block, doing some stretching exercises or a yoga series, or even setting up a standing desk with a walking pad.
Getting Social Interaction
Another way to prioritize self-care and well-being while working from home is to make sure that you are getting enough social interaction! This may feel a little contrary to setting boundaries, but it is wildly important to make sure that you are getting some social interaction in some capacity.
Working from home can lead to feelings of isolation because much of what you are doing is through a screen. It’s tiring and can have a pretty negative impact on your mental health in both the short and long term. There are a few ways that you can combat isolation when working from home. It’s important to make sure that you are connecting with friends and family regularly, either through phone calls, video chats or even by scheduling regular virtual happy hours. Or if there are people at home when you are working, taking breaks with another person and having human interaction during your day can reduce some of the stress associated with isolation.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practicing mindfulness and meditation is another great way to prioritize your self-care and well-being when working from home. To be clear, mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and paying attention to your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. What it might look like in practice is taking a moment to close your eyes, take a deep breath and focus on your body in that moment. This can help you to identify potential fatigue or stress that you are carrying in your body, or identify any overwhelm or burnout that you might be feeling.
Mindfulness is helpful to identify signs that you may be feeling stress, and it can help increase your focus and improve your overall mental health. You can incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your daily routine by setting aside a few minutes each day to focus on your breath and bring your attention to how you are feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally at the present moment. There are also a few apps and online resources available to guide you through mindfulness and meditation exercises, and you can find a blog post about our favourite ones here. Here is a planner that supports mindfulness and meditative practices in a wellness routine that is great for working from home.
Get enough sleep
We’ve spoken about getting enough sleep on this blog before, so it’s no surprise that getting enough sleep is one of the strategies we’ve included here. You might do this by setting a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable and dark environment, and avoiding screens and caffeine before bedtime. It’s easy to feel like your work life is seeping into your home life, and it can have a negative impact on your sleep because you are working in a space that should theoretically be separated from your work life.
Making sure that you are not taking your work gear into your sleeping space is also essential. Additionally, it’s important to make sure that you are getting enough sleep to feel rested and recharged, and this can vary from person to person, but on average is around 7-9 hours per night.
Sometimes working from home can be a good opportunity to take stock of what you’ve got in place to enable healthy sleeping, including reevaluating the way that your room is set up, and the mattress that you are sleeping on.
Stay in tune with yourself
Finally, it’s important to make time for hobbies and activities that you enjoy. This could include reading, writing, playing a musical instrument, or doing any other activity that brings you joy and relaxation. It’s important to make sure that you are doing something for yourself each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes, to maintain your mental and emotional well-being.
It’s also important to be aware of your own mental health and to seek help if needed. Some signs of poor mental health include feelings of anxiety, fatigue, overwhelm, burnout, depression, and a lack of accomplishment. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to take a break and seek help from a friend, family member, or if necessary, a therapist or counselor.
At the end of the day, working from home can come with some very real challenges, particularly when it comes to maintaining mental health and well-being. However, by establishing a consistent routine, creating a designated workspace, setting clear and manageable boundaries, engaging in regular physical activity, getting enough social interaction, practicing mindfulness and meditation, prioritizing sleep, being aware of your own mental health needs, and making time for hobbies and activities you enjoy, millennials can prioritize self-care and wellbeing while working from home. It’s important to remember that self-care and wellbeing is an ongoing process that requires consistent effort and will need to adapt to your needs. By incorporating these tips and strategies into your daily work-from-home routine, you can create a work-life balance that is both productive and fulfilling. Remember to be kind to yourself, set realistic expectations and prioritize your mental and physical health. It may take some time to find the right balance, but with patience and persistence, you can create a working environment that promotes self-care and well-being.