The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that people stay home as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. One way employers are coping with these instructions is by enforcing a work from home mandate for the time being. For many people, working from home may be a new practice and may, therefore, require an adjustment in schedules, workflows and how they use their home space.
Making such changes at the same time as we’re trying to prioritize the health of ourselves and our loved ones may create new sources of pressure in our lives. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of taking some time to take care of yourself and share examples of self-care practices you might find helpful.
What is self-care?
Self-care is the practice of taking care of yourself to improve your health and wellbeing. The ways people practice self-care may look different depending on the things that make you feel well-rested, relaxed and refreshed to approach the current pressures of our changing lives.
The importance of self-care during the coronavirus pandemic
One challenge for many people who recently switched to working from home is continuing to practice self-care while managing everything that requires our attention. You may be used to having your home separate from your workspace, for example, and need to make adjustments to balance your work and home life so you feel able to recharge and start the next day refreshed.
According to a recent Indeed study¹, over half of respondents said the best words to describe their feelings towards COVID-19 included “concerned,” “cautious,” and “worried.” Paired with a major change in your work routine, such feelings may lead to burnout or decreased motivation. Taking steps to attend to your mental and physical health may help you work through the impact of COVID-19 on your job.
Examples of self-care while working from home
Here are some self-care strategies to use while you are working from home during the outbreak:
- Set boundaries.
- Create a routine.
- Communicate your concerns.
- Keep your home organized.
- Eat healthy snacks.
- Find a workout you enjoy.
- Get enough sleep.
- Take breaks throughout the day.
- Connect with coworkers.
Consider meditation techniques.
1. Set boundaries
While working from home it's important to create new routines and schedules that help you distinguish between your home life and work life. When you are off-the-clock, turn off all of your work notifications and wait until your next workday to respond to work-related emails. This can help you feel like you are away from work.
Another important boundary is to make sure you have a designated workspace in your home. This way, once you are done with work, you can step away from your work area and decompress for the rest of the evening. If possible, find a desk and chair that allow you to comfortably sit up straight for hours at a time.
2. Create a routine
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has changed many people's usual routines. For example, you may have been used to getting ready for work by doing a morning exercise routine, showering and eating breakfast. Maintaining your regular morning routine can help you stay motivated and ready to start your workday. You might also find ways to improve or lengthen your morning routine with the time you usually spend commuting to work if that was part of your previous schedule.
3. Communicate your concerns
Working from home under these circumstances requires some adjustments. If you have any questions or concerns about how your work will be impacted by the coronavirus, communicate them to your employer or manager. They can help you create strategies to stay productive during this unprecedented time.
4. Keep your home organized
A clean work environment can help you feel more relaxed while getting work done. Take some time to keep your work area and home clean and organized. Along with helping you feel better, cleaning your home regularly can also help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a set of recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your home.
5. Eat healthy snacks
If accessible to you, invest in healthy snacks that you enjoy and make you feel good. Doing so may help you maintain your energy level and stay focused throughout the day.
6. Find a workout you enjoy
Exercise has many health benefits, which is why it is such a great form of self-care. When choosing an exercise, find something that you enjoy doing. Since the CDC recommends that you stay at home during the coronavirus outbreak, it's important to find fun exercises you can do in your home. Several gyms, yoga studios and other fitness organizations across the country are offering free or reduced-cost virtual workout classes you can access online.
7. Get enough sleep
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that most adults need between seven or eight hours of sleep each night. Sleep helps you maintain a healthy mind and body, improving focus throughout the workday. A regular sleep schedule can help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for a new day.
8. Take breaks throughout the day
Taking regular breaks throughout your workday is essential to staying focused and reducing burnout. Step away from your work area to have an actual lunch break. You might also consider trying the Pomodoro Method by setting a timer for 25 productive minutes, followed by a short five-minute break. Mini exercises like stretching, jumping jacks, running in place and deep breathing can help you to stay motivated.
9. Connect with coworkers
Being intentional about maintaining connections with your coworkers virtually can help you relax while building relationships. Find a form of communication that can help you feel connected to your coworkers. It may be beneficial to start an online chat group that feels like casual conversations you may have around the office. You might also consider establishing a regular virtual happy hour, book club, lunch club or some other meeting time where you can connect weekly or biweekly to talk about non-work-related topics.
10. Consider meditation techniques
Meditation is a great self-care method that may help you adjust to working from home by offering an exercise to relax and readjust. Online meditation organization, Headspace, recently created a meditation collection called "Weathering the Storm" to help people cope with the outbreak. This free collection includes meditation, sleep and movement exercises. They also have this one-minute meditation that can help you find a relaxed sense of focus.
¹ Indeed survey, n=1,035