It’s easy to let go of healthy habits and our self-care while working from home, but it’s so important to prioritise. With no one in the flesh to talk to, our working day can be quite isolating. To a degree, you can hide away and forget about the little things. This is particularly true if you work for yourself. But even if you work for a company, you may find outside of zoom calls, you are cut off from the outside world all day and not practicing self-care.
I find I can get so focused on my deadlines and tasks, I forget that I need to practice self-care and healthy habits. Before I know it I’ve forgotten to eat lunch at a decent time, take breaks or head outside for some fresh air. When I worked in an office I managed to do these things at least 90% of the time yet it can be strangely challenging at home. Just because your home is now your working environment, don’t neglect self-care while working from home.
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1. Get out of bed early & eat breakfast
It’s easy to lie in when you work from home and no one’s watching. But that often means a stressy day later trying to meet deadlines and get everything done. Follow the same discipline as always, whether you work for yourself or others.
Get up early and start your day. Take your shower, get dressed and have a satisfying breakfast so you are set up for the day ahead. I also make myself fairly presentable for work calls in case I have to use my camera unexpectedly. This is an easy first step to practicing self-care while working from home and will get you off to a great start.
2. Have a daily routine
It’s crucial to stick to your schedule, as part of your self-care while working from home. This will help you to stay on track and feel you’ve achieved something at the end of the day. Most of us benefit from structure and routine. At the end of each day and week, you should note down upcoming deadlines, tasks etc. so you are mentally prepared.
If you’re a list person, great! And if you like a structured visual way to break down your day, download my daily planner to get on track. Whatever way you prefer, make sure your routine considers when you are most effective for both work and personal things. You might like to exercise first thing, do emails and meetings in the morning and have quiet focus time in the afternoon or vice versa.
Make sure you also factor in how you will finish off your day to differentiate between work and play since your workspace is in your home. Perhaps you will write out the top 3 things you need to do tomorrow, or tidy your desk.
3. Fit in exercise
If you want to read more about fitting in exercise while working from home see the post. Even if you can’t manage a full workout, moving your body in some way is hugely beneficial and a key part of self-care and managing both your mental and physical health. Find an exercise you enjoy doing and will stick to. Find the slot that works for you whether it be morning, lunch or after work. If you can get outside for your workout (see the post for tips), even better!
4. Get outside
Even if you don’t exercise daily, at least make sure you leave home for a bit and get outside. Sometimes I’ve not left my flat other than to do nursery drop-off and pick up! It’s important to get some fresh air outside.
If you can go for a walk at lunchtime or even just a quick pop to the shops, you’ll feel better about it. If you’ve got some nice outdoor space then make sure you’ve set it up nicely so you actually use it. Make it a daily habit to get outside, even if it’s not for long. It’s such a quick win for mental health.
5. Take a proper lunch
One of the many great things about working from home is that you can make yourself lunch in the comfort of your own kitchen. Remember when you had to fight for counter space in the office kitchen or deal with someone microwaving fish? Now you have a clean and quiet kitchen to yourself (well assuming loud flatmates/partners/kids aren’t around). Make yourself a yummy nutritious lunch.
6. Don’t forget breaks
You can also still have your tea or coffee breaks, just like when you were in the office. And now you don’t have to do a whole team tea round! I reserve one coffee for the morning, then switch to decaf tea as I try to limit my caffeine intake. You can use your break to step outside if you have outdoor space or sit down for five mins with a book. But do ensure you take the breaks away from your monitor and work station.
7. Communicate with others during your day
It’s so easy to get your head down and forget about communicating regularly with others when we work from home, but that gets unhealthy fast. Try to keep some human conversation in your day so you don’t isolate yourself. You can call/zoom a colleague to go over things or give a friend or family member a quick call. Communicating with others is so crucial to your self-care while working from home.
If you live with someone they will also benefit if you are talking with others during your day. It’s not pleasant to be the person that comes home to someone that hasn’t spoken to anyone else all day, and really needs to offload it all on you. Taking on that avalanche is really intense when all they want to do is decompress.
8. Monitor phone & social media use
We all know how unhealthy it is to be on our phones all the time but it’s easier said than done. If you really struggle with this then set times for use, such as before you start work or after lunch and stick with it. You can also download an app such as Social Fever to monitor your use or remind you to stop!
If you want to practice self-care, consider how it makes you feel when you overuse your phone. Do you feel drained, have a headache or arm ache? Do you feel bad after using social media because you can’t help but compare yourself to others? These are all signals that you are using it too much or for the wrong reasons. You may need to use your phone for work but think about stripping it down to what you need. See what can be muted or deleted if it doesn’t serve a purpose.
9. Try a meditation break
There are many great apps that can help you create a daily meditation ritual. Try a few out to see which ones resonate and find a voice you like. I’ve used Headspace and love that you can choose sessions as short as five minutes. Most of us can commit to five minutes so give it a go and see how you find it.
Ideally, you should practice every day, either first time in the morning, or at some other point in the day when you need the destress. There are different types of meditation practices such as mindfulness or mantra so learn more if you are interested. If you practice yoga, you can tag your meditation onto the end when you are already feeling relaxed and positive.
10. Keep your work place tidy
Even if you work at your kitchen table like me, make sure you keep your workspace clean and tidy. I always kept a tidy desk but it’s harder when your workspace is overtaking your personal space. Make sure you are keeping on top of things like making your bed and doing the dishes so things don’t collapse into messy chaos. Open your windows to ventilate your home properly too. The way you take care of your home is an important part of self-care while working from home.
At the end of the day, if you don’t have a dedicated office or space then you need to ensure you transform things back, so you leave work mode and enter your personal home space. This might mean packing away as much as you can or at least leaving it tidy. I actually pack away my laptop, keyboard and notebooks because I really want my kitchen/living space back to enjoy my evening. I use foldable things like a laptop stand rather than having a separate monitor, to keep things compact.
Prioritise your self-care while working from home
I do hope the above helps you to practice self-care while working from home, and gives you some ideas of how you can adapt your day to ensure you are prioritising yourself and your needs. There are also many apps and books such as Guilt-Free Self-Care (focused on busy women!) to support self-care and help us set a daily practice. I’d love to hear any more tips for self-care while working from home that you use too?
As much as working from home is a real privilege for many of us, the risk factor is working harder than ever before and forgetting to take care of yourself and your needs. It’s easy to overdo it and burn out so ensure you are practicing self-care while working from home.
You can also read more here about staying productive while working from home as well as other related posts such as how to better connect with colleagues and are you overdoing it at work to sense check if you are close to burnout.
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