For some, working from home is the dream.
No squeezing onto a jam-packed train with someone’s armpit in your face or sitting in traffic moving a snail’s pace.
Freedom from annoying colleagues, demanding clients and escape from a boss constantly breathing down your neck.
You roll out of bed five minutes before the working day begins, grab a hot drink and your laptop and sit down to work while still in your pyjamas.
While it is true that working from home can provide such benefits, it can also have some unexpected downsides that can negatively impact your life outside of work.
Many people opt to work from home to achieve better work-life balance, however, it can often result in working longer hours and poor self-care.
To help you maximise the benefits, and reduce the risks, here are 8 ways to practice self-care when you work from home:
Create your ideal working space
Your home is your personal space, therefore, you get to be comfortable and create your ideal working space.
Set up a place in your home specifically for you to work. It could be a separate room or simply the corner of a room with a small desk.
- Do you work best in silence or with the radio on in the background? If you’re in a shared space, could noise cancelling headphones be useful?
- Do you need shelves or a filing cabinet to store files and paperwork?
- Do you prefer natural light and to be close to the window, or do you prefer a more cosy feel?
- What do you need to be surrounded by to feel inspired and be productive?
You could add a vision board, candles, plants, flowers or photos of your loved ones – the possibilities are endless.
This is your opportunity to create a working environment that makes you feel happy and motivated to work each day.
Set up your desk correctly
Something that is often overlooked but that has a huge impact on your physical health is the set up of your workstation.
Companies are getting better at this and many offer an ergonomic assessment, to employees, or offer guidelines at the very least, to ensure your desk is set up specifically for you.
However, when you work from this is often neglected.
- If you’re working on a laptop, do you need to use a docking station with an external monitor, keyboard and mouse?
- If you’re using a monitor, is it the correct height and distance away?
- Does your chair need to be adjusted? Would you be more comfortable with a headrest or with the arms removed?
- Could you benefit from having a footrest?
Initially, these may not be questions you’ll consider when you start working from home and you may not immediately feel the effects of an incorrectly set up desk.
You may simply take a few painkillers when you start getting headaches and you’ll probably ignore the niggling ache in your neck or back. But these are often signs that your desk has not been set up ergonomically and early warnings of potential long terms health problems.
Additionally, if you regularly have audio calls, ensure you use a headset.
Create a daily routine
An aspect of working from home that appeals to many is the thought of having the flexibility and complete control of your time.
This is great in theory however, a lot of people who are accustomed to working in an office environment can find they miss having a daily routine.
Creating and following a morning routine, is not only a way to add some structure to your day, but it’s also a simple way to prioritise self-care when you work from home.
Your morning routine could include journaling, meditation, deep breathing or yoga/stretching.
The amount of time you set aside for your morning routine is your choice.
You can spend 10 minutes reading something motivational with a cup of hot water and lemon. Or, you can spend the first hour of your day doing a combination of things to ensure you have a healthy and positive start to your day.
Many people who work in an office environment, often either have breakfast before you leave home or once you arrive at your desk.
For lunch, perhaps you’re prompted by colleagues to grab something to eat, or maybe you bring lunch in and eat at your desk.
When working from home, there can be a temptation to get straight to work, especially if you’re rolling out of bed (or staying in bed) to work.
You tell yourself you’ll grab something to eat once you’ve checked your emails, and before you know it, it’s 11 o’clock.
You stop for a cup of tea or coffee and tell yourself you’ll eat at lunch, only to find that it’s almost 5 pm and you still haven’t eaten.
Make eating breakfast part of your morning routine, and if you’re not someone who does breakfast, make sure you stop to have lunch at a decent time.
If necessary, put a daily appointment in your calendar to actually take a lunch break and physically get up and away from your desk to eat.
Similar to eating, once you get into the flow of work, hydrating yourself can also be an essential act of self-care that is forgotten.
Ensure you always have water on your desk and when you finish, make it a habit to get up and refill your glass or bottle immediately.
It can also be a good trick to drink a glass of water immediately after returning from the bathroom.
This not only ensures you’re drinking water throughout the day, but it also forces you to regularly get away from your desk for a toilet break.
Take regular breaks
Working from home can mean fewer breaks.
You won’t be called away from your desk to help a colleague or speak to the boss and any meetings you need to attend are likely to happen from your desk.
Studies have shown that sitting for prolonged periods of time can be bad for your health so it’s imperative that you regularly get up, move and stretch.
As well as sitting for most of the day, we spend just as much time looking at screens. This can increase the risk of developing eye problems, therefore as well as moving your body, it’s just as important to rest your eyes.
There are a number of free tools worth considering that you can install on your laptop or PC to either remind or force you to take a break.
Leave the house
Working from home can sometimes leave you feeling isolated and lonely if you’re used to and enjoy working as part of a team or in a busy, vibrant office.
If, on the other hand, you’re quite happy spending large amounts of time alone, when working from home on a full-time basis, it can be easy to slip into a hermit’s way of life.
This is not necessarily a bad thing if it’s a conscious choice.
I know when the weather is cold and damp, I can happily go days without leaving the house.
However, human connection and interaction is still an important part of life.
If you’re working from home more often than not, consider taking yourself out or meeting a friend for lunch or simply going for a walk to the park or around your local area.
Additionally, look at working from a local cafe, library or coworking space every now and again.
Get a life
When regularly working from home, the lines between home and work can become blurred and before you know it your work can easily begin to seep into your personal life.
Therefore, it is important to establish boundaries to help you to maintain a work-life balance.
If you’re someone who finds it hard to step away from your desk, make plans that force you to stop working such as fitness or hobby class or a weekly dinner date with a friend or loved one.
Alternatively, if you share your home with someone, you can give them permission to approach you at a specific time to encourage you to stop working.
You can also set reminders on your phone or again use apps that force you to stop working after a certain time.
Nothing mentioned above is anything new or revolutionary and it is all relatively simple to implement.
But, as we know, sometimes the simplest things are the ones we often overlook or take for granted.
It’s not always easy to enforce clear strict boundaries between your personal and work life, especially if you work for yourself or for a particularly demanding boss or company.
However, it is possible to make a more conscious effort to practice better self-care when you work from home.
Journal prompt: How can I practice better self-care when I work from home?
Affirmation: I value my well-being and taking care of myself is a priority
Image Credit: Unsplash