Working from home is something many of us have found ourselves doing a lot more recently, and although it has amazing benefits it can also provide us with challenges. Regular breaks, no commute, and a comfortable environment are all great perks of working from home, but it can also come with a mountain of distractions, feelings of isolation, and new types of stress.
It’s so important to consider our wellness because in order for us to maintain optimal health we need to know what keeps us well. Working remotely can take a serious toll on our mental health. In a recent State of Remote Work study by Buffer, 49% of remote workers said their biggest issues with working from home are wellness-related. Respondents reported struggling with unplugging from work, loneliness, and lack of motivation.
This type of work environment is something I have personal experience with. For the first 25 years of our business, all of our beekeeping operations were at home — the kitchen overflowed every day with beekeepers, meetings were held regularly around the table, and the phone rang from dawn till dusk.
It was difficult to switch off and even harder to unplug, but we knew we had to make choices. We needed to make sure we were enjoying our daily walk through life, and looking after ourselves was a crucial part of that journey to stay well.
In this article, I want to talk about why self-care is so important when we work from home and share some tips on how I try to stay as healthy as possible while doing it.
Self-care is always important, and when working from home there are some key factors to consider that can affect our wellness.
- The lines between work and home life can become blurred. Work mode is harder to switch off, and it’s easy to find yourself mixing home activities with work activities. If we’re not careful, downtime quickly disappears and work becomes near impossible to switch off.
- Working from home away from our co-workers and other people we interact with regularly can be socially isolating.
- We’re constantly surrounded by distractions.
- It can interrupt family and personal space.
- We lose the camaraderie and spontaneous sharing of ideas.
So, how can we make sure we stay healthy during these times?
1. Plant a Firm Foundation
Routine and schedule are incredibly important to overall wellness. People with daily routines have been shown to have lower levels of stress when facing health problems and negative life events. Letting our brains know what to expect helps us approach the day with a more level head.
Take some time to build a solid routine and stick to it. This includes getting into a healthy sleep schedule — going to sleep and waking up at roughly the same time each day and aiming for around eight hours a night.
Routines are a highly individual thing — my personal practices are done on a daily basis and are imperative in preserving my wellbeing.
2. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of existing in the present moment and stilling our minds. It can be practiced with meditation and has been shown to improve health and wellbeing in multiple areas.
The benefits of mindfulness don’t just apply to mental health either — research by the New York Academy of Sciences has shown that mindfulness meditation helped people with back pain improve their ability to do daily tasks by 30%.
Beyond meditation’s positive effects on the body, it can also help improve brain function. According to a Harvard study, practicing mindfulness meditation for at least 30 minutes a day can increase grey matter, the component in the brain that deals with information processing.
My husband Paul has his daily mindfulness routine which he practices every day without fail just after breakfast. It works really well for him, and I very much respect this time he takes for himself.
3. Create Every Day
Acts of creativity are profoundly healthy and healing. Multiple studies confirm that engaging in something creative can increase positive emotions, lessen depressive symptoms, reduce stress and anxiety, and even improve our immune system. They help stimulate our thinking and help us feel more present and fulfilled.
To create every day is my personal wellness practice.
It can be as simple as picking a few flowers and arranging them in a vase, sitting at the pottery wheel with a lump of clay and feeling it take shape, or creating something in the kitchen. I’ll never force creativity, but I will simply embrace that moment and make time in the day and go wherever it takes me. Creativity is an essential part of my day.
4. Appreciate Nature and Get Moving
We were never meant to live our lives entirely indoors, but when working from home it’s all too easy to find ourselves spending whole days without stepping outside.
Stepping outside and physically moving plays a crucial role in maintaining physical wellbeing and mental health. Exercise releases endorphins and other “feel-good” chemicals in the brain that relieve stress and anxiety. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry even discovered that exercise improves self-esteem and social function.
Another extensive study of 1.2 million people in the U.S. found that people who exercise report having 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health a month compared to people who do not exercise. The research is clear — regular exercise is necessary to overall wellness.
Spending time in nature, even for just an hour or so a day, can be profoundly beneficial for both the mind and body as well. Research suggests that many mood disorders can be lifted simply by spending more time outdoors. One study even found that people who spent at least two hours a week in green spaces were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.
Paul and I are both nature lovers; we are surrounded by it and our connection to the outdoors is present every day. There are lots of ways to include nature in a daily work-from-home routine — eating lunch outside, going for a walk during breaks, working outdoors, but most importantly just being present in the moment in an outside setting. It is as simple as sitting under a tree, breathing deeply, and being in awe of its splendor.
Stay healthy with Steens
Working from home can bring many challenges, some of which we might not expect or be prepared for. It can be easy to slip into unhealthy habits and find ourselves in a mental rut.
However, by focusing on creating a stable routine with all the ingredients for a healthy lifestyle, working from home can become a deeply rewarding experience. Learning to unplug and engage in a daily practice that brings us joy can help us in the journey to maintaining wellness.
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