Self-Care and Working from Home: Tips from the S&H Team
We're a virtual office, so we all work from home all the time. Here's some advice.
Sitting all day is a real risk when working from home. And according to the Mayo Clinic, it can trigger high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Solution? Work in units called pomodoros—25 minutes of cognitive, focused work; then five to 10 minutes off duty (folding laundry, squats, playing with the cat, whatever). Your brain and body will both appreciate it when you change gears frequently.
When much of what you do involves sitting at a computer, it's essential that you pay attention to how you are sitting. Working from home offers an opportunity to give your body a healthy dose of self-care by changing how you position yourself for work. When I listened to Rabbi Rami's interview with Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of Crooked, I realized that I don't have to only alternate between sitting and standing. I now have a treadmill desk, and I also have a set up on my couch, with pillows to prop me up, a pose recommended by Ramin. I also take short breaks throughout the day to do some inversions, which gets the blood flowing and can help to shift perspective. The simplest inversion is laying on the ground with my feet up the wall, but sometimes I go all out with a headstand—it's a natural reset.
I find it's important to find a work space in your home that is both comfortable and distinct from the rest of the house. It's too easy to be tempted to avoid a work task because "maybe I'll just do the dishes first." If you can separate the space by stairs or a door, great—let the transition be your commute. When the weather is pleasant, I also find it soothing to take the office outside: same rules, a specific corner dedicated to the workspace. And bonus points if you can set up a special pet bed nearby for your "coworker."
It's not always possible to pick and choose what tasks need finishing, but I try to follow a general outline for each day: 1. First, I take care of one small, slightly difficult item that has been bugging me or that I've been avoiding. 2. I dig into a longer-term project for a couple of focused hours. 3. I try to include a smaller project that I can finish in an hour or less so that one checkbox is totally completed. 4. I set some time to work on a creative project that isn't in a deadline position yet, but that I'm itching to work on because I have IDEAS. It's self-care because I feel good about the work I did—I handled a worry that was eating at me, I accomplished something, and I also challenged myself creatively.
Find ways to set a boundary between your working hours and your non-working hours: Be clear about the latest time you're willing to clock out. Perhaps you close your email tabs or your computer, move into a different room, or have a specific ritual to signal the end of the workday, such as putting screens away and connecting with yourself or the ones you share space with over some tea or a cocktail before dinner.
Under normal circumstances, working from home is a mixed bag. I like to be aggressive in countering the negatives with some big positives. In particular, remember that you have access to great spaces during off-peak hours. One of my sacred spaces is a park that is typically almost empty during normal working hours but uncomfortably packed on weekends. When my kids were younger, a special activity was to hit popular tourist spots right when they opened. For me, it was spiritually uplifting to be practically alone with my kids, hearing their happy giggles echo in a massive, beautiful building jammed with priceless artifacts.
Even now, I think that finding sacred spots is essential, unless you’re totally avoiding going outside. Find someplace beautiful and go there until it starts to feel like it's yours.