With the world suddenly shifting to remote working, you may be one of the people working this way for the first time. As a team of people who often work from home, we wanted to share a few practical self-care tips to help you not just survive the next few weeks, but thrive.
Express, and expect empathy
We’re entering uncharted territory in work and in life. And these ‘unprecedented times’ mean we need to cut each other, and ourselves some slack. Now is a good time to express and share our values as they relate to work and life. We all need to work together on this one, and help each other navigate the sudden changes to our lives.
For example, you may have three kids all home-based learning in your spare room. And your teammate may be juggling caring for elderly in laws with their workload. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation with managers and colleagues about what you need and how you can all be flexible and adapt to support each other.
Focus on what you can do
One huge benefit of working from home is all that time you save by not spending hours commuting, taking long lunches or catching up on water cooler gossip. Think about how you could use this time for self-care. Perhaps it’s cooking and eating a healthy lunch, catching up on your reading, taking a walk, or finishing early and running a bath.
Working from home also makes it easier to get a change of scene. Try brainstorming on the floor, reading on a stationary bike, walking around during a phone meeting, or taking your laptop or sketchbook into the garden.
You can also use this time to build new work habits that will help you when it’s time to head back to the office. If you can see this ‘new normal’ as an opportunity to reduce your stress later on, it’s likely to pay off later on.
Even while you’re physically separated from workmates and friends, it’s so easy in 2020 to connect in other ways. Regular calls, texts and sending cute kitten videos can keep spirits up and remind us that we’re still working as a team.
Make yourself comfortable
If you’ll only be working from home for a month or so, you may not need to buy a special home office set up. You could get by with just a laptop, but you won’t be comfortable for extended periods of time. Basic items to help you look after yourself include an external keyboard and mouse, a separate monitor, and an external hard drive for backing up your work. You may also want to use a powered USB hub or a docking station to connect these items together.
By themselves, laptops are not great ergonomically for sustained working from home. If you have an external mouse and keyboard, try elevating your laptop so it’s more level with your eyeline and doesn’t cause you to slouch. To test the height, your eyebrows should be about level with the top of the screen.
Whether you’re at the dining table or a desk, make sure it’s the optimum height to support working for long periods. Your arms should angle downwards slightly when you’re typing. This may mean finding a height-adjustable chair. The multi-tasking Go Pillow can be incredibly helpful when setting up a temporary home office, as either a cushion, or rolled for lumbar support. And while we don’t recommend working from your sofa, the Go Pillow also provides extra back or neck support on ‘squooshy’ chairs.
Sleep well and stay on schedule
Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule, as if you were still going in to the office. This is key to helping you avoid midnight Netflix box-set binges or lying in till 5 minutes before your first video call. (You know who you are.)
As you try to adjust to a WFH timetable, your sleep routine can take a hit. Sticking to the same wake and sleep times is important for self-care when you’re working from home. Otherwise you can start to feel groggy, and your productivity and wellbeing will suffer.
If your energy levels are flagging, get your blood flowing by taking a brisk walk outside. If you still need to nap, aim for 20-30 minutes, and set an alarm so you don’t stay in bed.
Now, take a breath
Scheduling in time for exercise and mindfulness is an important strategy for self-care when you’re working from home. It’s a good idea to set boundaries between ‘work time’ and ‘home time’ to ensure you dedicate some time and space in each day to exercise. Make an appointment with yourself or the people you live with to work out. If you have a problem sticking to it, try scheduling exercise first thing in the morning.
Even simply standing up and moving for 10 minutes can boost your mood and help you refocus or shift a mental block. Rather than staring at your screen trying to solve a problem, it can help a lot to get up and move around. Being active for even a few minutes can actually support productivity and creativity.
And last, but definitely not least, take time to breathe and practice some form of mindfulness. This could be simply sitting quietly and focusing on your breath for a few minutes. There are many great Apps to help you start and keep up a daily meditation practice. Try Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, or search ‘meditation apps’ online or on your device.
Being kind and keeping calm will help us all get through self-isolation stronger and more connected than before. And remember, this too shall pass.