Within the last 24 hours, almost all of my clients have found themselves either mandatorily or voluntarily working from home.
I have worked from home for the last few years, and love it... most of the time. It allows me to travel, stay home with my fur babies, and work with clients from all over the world.
That being said, I really struggle with work life balance at times, and have learned (am still learning) to establish boundaries and structure for myself. I have learned that working from home looks more like the photo above (note the side-by-side coffee and wine, but no water in sight), and less like this:
The freedom of working at home can be pretty intoxicating. It will give you more time to prep and eat your meals, meditate, water you plants, snuggle with your animals, workout, etc, but without structure, lines become blurred.
I have forgotten to shower for a few days, forgotten to have face-to-face human contact other than with my sweetie, grabbed popcorn before a proper lunch (I know, I know, not practicing what I preach), and, worse than all of that, there are plenty of times when I have not upheld the rituals and boundaries that keep me tethered to my physical, mental and spiritual health.
I'm also working on giving myself a break for these things on account of being human ;)
In the hopes of helping those of you new to working at home adjust, here are 4 tips for checking yourself before wrecking yourself:
TRAP #1: Not Moving as Much.
A lot of my clients "clock in" at least 2,000-3,000 steps just getting to, from and around work. So, without leaving home, this unintentional movement (just getting from point a to point b) will decrease dramatically.
We have to actively and intentionally incorporate movement into our day. If we hope we will "find" time to move, chances are, we won't. We have to MAKE time to move. This doesn't have to mean a sweaty and long workout. It can mean stretching mindfully, lifting weights, yoga, dancing, getting to the gym, and anything else that gets us out of our head and reconnected with our bodies.
Exercise can also help our mental wellness (like anxiety about uncertain situations), as well as keeping our immune system in good spirits.
TRAP #2: Grazing
This is something remote workers know all too well. When your desk is just feet from your entire kitchen, it's easy to graze.
Anxiety, boredom, feeling overwhelmed with emails, phone calls, etc can be triggers for eating as an activity rather than as nourishment. Eating is a great distraction and escape until it's not. Until our plate is empty and we still have the same old stressors and tasks as before.
For me, it's knowing there is a list of emails I have to send out. I think "mmm, I'll just get a little snack to enjoy while sending these emails". However, I'm not actually hungry, and that snack I'm so excited about isn't ever veggies. I always end up wanting chips, popcorn or chocolate. There is nothing wrong with having these foods, but it's that pattern of eating to avoid work that doesn't serve me well.
A few things that help me nip it in the bud are:
MAKING A LIST of the tasks that are feeling overwhelming. Something about seeing them down on paper makes them less massive.
SETTING A TIMER for 10 minutes. The deal is, I just have to work on whatever the thing is I'm trying to avoid for 10 minutes, and then I can go get a snack. Usually, I end up "in the zone" and not feeling like the snack anymore.
Always always always GET A PLATE. That goes for one chip, one scoop of hummus. Whatever it is, it gets a plate. This helps us stay CLEAR on how much we're eating (hard to gage that when we're mindlessly grabbing out of a big bowl) and it slows us down a little. It also lets us use laziness to our advantage. If we're too lazy to plate something, then we either aren't really hungry or it isn't really worthwhile or special.
TRAP #3: Less Hydration
A lot of my clients tell me keeping up with hydration at work is easier than at home.
This is usually because they have brought some kind of bottle with them to work, and keep it on their desk in plain sight. If (aka when) I'm struggling with hydration, I find setting an alarm for every 30 minutes really helps. When that alarm goes off, I get a full glass of water.
Trap 4: Feeling Lonely and Isolated.
This one can sneak right up on you. A lot of people spend more time with their coworkers than with their own friends and family.
Feeling lonely is one of the reasons we might turn to eating for purposes other than hunger. Eating can bring us comfort and it can feel cozy. What are some other things we can turn to for comfort and cozy?
Of course we have the benefit of video calling, texting, etc. (I'm intentionally leaving out social media here), but there are also rituals we can do in our home alone to feel more grounded. One of my favorites is lighting a fancy candle and giving myself a foot rub. Focusing on our feet can bring the buzz and anxious energy swirling around our heads DOWNWARD.
Also, taking at least one walk every day helps A LOT. It gets me out of my head and is absolutely meditation in motion (I'm very rarely feeling patient enough to actually sit and meditate, so this works well for me).
Bottom line, a lot of people have just been launched into a day without much structure. So, we must create our own.
Schedule meal times
Schedule times to take a walk
Set alarms for hydration
Set up Skype or phone dates with friends. Also give yourself permission to not answer just because you are home.
Stay smart out there. Prepare, don't panic, and I'm here if you need any help adjusting to work at home, or need some for quarantine menu inspo ;)
Hi! My name is Sarah. I'm into clean eating, traveling (beach please), helping folks eat and feel better, gardening (not very well), and bopping around my neighborhood with my dog. Thanks for reading!