By: Robin Long, Founder & CEO of The Balanced Life
The last few months have brought a lot of uncertainty and change for all of us. One of those changes for many is working from home. While some might welcome the flexibility that comes from working from home — eliminating their daily commute, not needing to dress up each day — working from home can also bring stress as you navigate how to be productive at home and create boundaries between your work and personal life.
I’m Robin Long, Founder & CEO of The Balanced Life, an online Pilates community providing at-home workouts, positive support, and a balanced & realistic approach to take care of yourself in all seasons of life. I also am a mom of 4 (6, 4, and 1.5 year old twins!)
I have always been passionate about creating programs that not only help to build strength, but also help to reduce stress and increase overall health. And with many of us spending more time at home, unable to go to the gym or continue our “normal” routines, and experiencing so much change and uncertainty — it’s more important than ever to prioritize our physical & mental health in all areas of life — including our work!
I have been running my business from my home for years. Through a lot of trial and error I have found some things that help me feel productive and healthy while working from home. Here are some of my tips for maintaining your physical and mental health when working from home:
1. Identify a designated workspace
One of the biggest challenges of working from home is not having a clear division between work time & personal time! I used to work from my bedroom, dining room table, or wherever I wanted to hunker down for the day. Now with 4 kids around and my husband also working from home – that doesn’t work well for me anymore. A few years ago I created a little “she-shed” office in my backyard so that I could have a place just for me that signaled “work time.”
I know everyone doesn’t have the space or resources to build an office but you can identify a space you can work from; maybe setting up an office in your guest room, or even a desk space in your bedroom. The idea is to create a space that is used only for your work. By creating this boundary, you will signal to your brain “it’s time to do work!” will help you be more productive in the time you have, and will also help you leave work behind when you are done for the day!
I’d also encourage you to keep this space tidy and equipped with what you need to do your work. Keeping things tidy can help create inner peace which can be so helpful when so many things are out of our control.
2. Create rhythms for your day
Working from home can make it hard to shut down — it can easily feel that you can and should work all the time! Our brains need a break from work and our eyes need a break from screens. Prolonged time looking at a screen can hurt our eyes, increase stress, and disrupt sleep patterns (which further harms our health!) A few things I have been doing to help my eye health and improve my circadian rhythms are:
- Getting outside every morning in the sunshine! This signals to my body and brain that it’s daytime. This simple act helps me wake up, increases my energy and also gets me moving early in the day. Artificial light can have the opposite effect — so it’s important to get outside.
- Identify a time at night to log-off all my screens. This helps me to wind down before bed and get quality sleep. Lack of good sleep leads to stress and a whole host of other health issues. While it can be hard to unplug when you just want to do one more thing — creating this habit helps me sleep better and ultimately be the best version of myself when I wake up in the morning.
- Wear Blue Light blocking glasses after the sun goes down. Screens and the digital nature of our world isn’t going anywhere anytime soon — while we can do our best to decrease time looking at screens, we can also protect our eyes while looking at screens. I love my Felix Gray Roebling glasses and have also purchased them for my team so we can all protect our eyes and limit Blue Light exposure, especially in the evening hours.
3. Fitting in movement throughout the day
We were not intended to be as sedentary as we are these days. As a Pilates instructor, I see first hand with those I teach the effects that sitting at desks or hunched over a computer or device is having on our bodies. I also know that fitting in a long workout or going to the gym each day isn’t realistic for most. At The Balanced Life, I teach the importance and effectiveness of adding movement in throughout the day. Too often people think that workouts need to be long and leave you feeling exhausted and sore — which keeps them from trying anything at all. In reality small, consistent habits add up! If you aren’t sure where to start, try:
- Taking a walk while listening in on a phone call or webinar.
- Setting an alarm on your phone to stop work, stand up and stretch. Check out these simple yet effective stretches for relieving tension in your shoulders, back and neck.
- This 8 minute Pilates routine you can do at your desk. No need to change into workout clothes!
- Sign up for 5 free Pilates workouts — each one is less than 15 minutes, requires no fancy equipment, can be done at home, and will leave you feeling stronger and less stressed.
I hope these tips help you to take care of your physical and mental health while working at home. For more encouragement, support and resources to care for yourself in this or any season, come check out The Balanced Life!