It’s safe to say that working from home comes with some unique challenges. While drowning in emails, wrangling screaming toddlers and attending 9 AM Zoom meetings in your PJ’s (anxiously checking to make sure you’re on mute) it can be hard to carve out time to take care of yourself. The bright side of working from home is, however that it makes adding self-care to your work-day easier than ever.
Here are some quick ways self-care can be peppered into your work from home day:
1. Watch a funny video
If you're anything like me, YouTube can often lead you down a rabbit hole, in which you start at a TED Talk on combating procrastination, and end up spending hours on The Weird Part of YouTube. But when used in small doses, it can be a great self-care tool. Laughter has the ability to decrease stress and can have a positive effect on dopamine and serotonin levels (the happy hormones!). Giving yourself a couple of minutes to watch a baby monkey going backwards on a pig might be just the mood booster you need in the middle of your workday.
2. Take a Short Nap
One of the benefits to working from home is your proximity to your bed. Naps have many mental health benefits such as increased alertness, reduced fatigue and increased relaxation and mood. Luckily, it looks like shortest naps are actually the best naps. A 10 to 20 minute nap in the early afternoon (before 3pm) is ideal for restoring energy and preventing interference with night-time sleep. Just be careful not to hit snooze!
3. Take a Few Belly Breaths
Deep breathing, A.K.A. diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing involves breathing in such a way that air completely fills your lungs while your stomach rises. This type of breathing technique decreases heart rate and lowers blood pressure, leading to a reduction in stress levels. This is in contrast to shallow chest breathing, which increases anxiety tension. So dialing up your self-care in the day can be as easy as breathing!
4. Try a News Cleanse
Self-care isn’t just about things you do, but can also include things you don’t do. Watching the news can be great way of keeping us informed about the world and inspired to take action, especially at such volatile times. But, this comes at a cost. Research shows that watching even just 15 minutes of televised news can have negative effects on mood, through decreasing positive affect and increasing anxiety. So, while you may want to continue staying informed, try taking a day or two off from consuming news media, or setting time limits on when you’re watching.
5. Take a Quick Walk Around Your Neighbourhood
While you may not have the time or energy to hit the gym in the middle of your work day, exercise is still an option! Aerobic exercise like walking increases positive serotonin levels and improves energy and mood. Taking the time to walk has the added bonus of giving you a nice break from your screen, which can be straining on the eyes. If you can squeeze in just 30 minutes of movement, you can get that serotonin high.
6. Wake up and Smell the Candles
An easy option you can try without leaving your desk is to have a scented candle or essential oil on hand and take some time to mindfully take in the scent. Research on aromatherapy has shown that certain scents and essential oils can have positive effects regarding stress relief and relaxation. Interestingly, different scents have different impacts on our bodies and behaviour. Some popular scents include peppermint, lemon and lavender (a personal favourite).
7. Initiate some Water-Cooler Conversation
For many of us, one of the main downsides to working from home is missing out on casual interactions with coworkers and peers. This absolutely makes sense since social connection is such a vital part of our well-being. A great way to get some of that social connection back is to try a virtual break room. Hallway, a paid app that can be added into Slack allows you to schedule timed (non-work-related) chats with coworkers that anyone on your team can drop into. If that’s not you’re thing, there’s always the old fashioned method of dropping your favourite co-worker a line for a quick chat!
Now, all of these options may not work for everybody, in fact maybe none of them will work for you. But the great thing about self-care is that there are no hard and fast rules. Self-care can essentially be anything you do to take care of you, done in any way that fits your lifestyle best. And it’s not self-care if it isn’t something that you personally find beneficial and/or enjoyable. If nothing else, hope these 7 options have driven the point home that self-care is a lot more accessible than you may think. Much like sticky hand sanitizer, when it comes to self-care, a little goes a long way!