Working from home has long been the holy grail for 9-to-5ers who envision leisurely mornings sans commute, a hot cup of coffee in hand, and work sessions in comfy clothes. And with the arrival of COVID-19, roughly half of us got to see if this reality was as good as what we'd imagined.
It turns out working from home is a mixed bag. While people around the globe struggled to develop work-from-home routines, articles about self-care at home and a host of working from home tips cropped up across the media — sometimes offering contradictory suggestions on how to survive working remotely.
At Ethos Life, we read the articles as we moved our offices to our homes and apartments. Here, we offer the following working from home advice for those whose commute is, for the foreseeable future, a matter of yards rather than miles.
One of the keys to working from home begins the night before. Wait, what? Since you no longer have that hour-long commute, you might think you can stay awake all hours to binge-watch Succession or finish the latest hot-off-the-press novel. But in truth, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep is the best way you can prepare for working from home.
There's more: to ensure that you're getting the rest you need, avoid bookending your days with screen use. The blue light emanating from tablets and cell phones disrupts your circadian rhythm, making it difficult to enter a truly restful slumber. It's easier said than done, but try giving yourself an hour away from electronics before you go to bed, and avoid making your Instagram feed the first thing you see in the morning.
One of the best ways to practice self-care is developing a routine that works for you and sticking with it throughout the day. For starters, that means getting up at the same time every day, even if you don't have a boss monitoring your work arrival time.
Your work-from-home routine may not be the same as your neighbor's. Maybe you like to exercise in the morning or read the paper before starting work. Perhaps you're best when you get up at 10 am and work until 7 pm. Whatever works for you, respect and settle into it as a daily routine, and gain the peace of mind that comes with knowing what you'll be doing next throughout the day.
Healthy living at home includes carving out time daily for physical activity, whatever that means for you — whether it's a half-hour on the treadmill in the morning before work or an online yoga session later in the day.
When you work from home, it's all too easy to have trouble leaving work behind to do anything else — but that's a bad habit to begin.
And don't limit movement to your exercise time. Make it a point (set the alarm if you need to) to get up out of your office chair once an hour for a simple, three-minute stretching session. Making time for self-care each hour is the best way to increase productivity and avoid the back and leg pain that can develop from long periods of sitting.
When your office is just a few feet away from the kitchen (or perhaps at the kitchen table itself), it's easy to get into the habit of noshing throughout the day. But adding over-snacking to a sedentary, desk-based lifestyle is an easy way to put on weight and predispose your body to everything from heart disease to diabetes. Practice mindful eating, paying attention to portion control, and keep snacks small.
There's a wealth of resources online and in books and magazines that can help you eat well. Creating and maintaining good eating habits takes some thought and planning, but it's key to healthy living at home.
Your new office may be an actual room in your home or apartment. Or it may be a corner of the dining room table. Wherever you've set up your workspace, take some time to make sure it's comfortable and conducive to work. A good, high-quality desk chair can help with self-care in the workplace. Clear clutter off your desk or table, and be sure you have the supplies you need before sitting down.
Next, think about the aesthetics of the space. If possible, set yourself up near a window, both for ventilation and to give you a focus for a daydreaming break. Purchase an inexpensive houseplant to set near your computer, or pull out a picture of your loved ones or pets to have on display.
Think about what makes you happy — and then bring a bit of that with you when you go to work.
A positive mindset is one of the most important ways to encourage self-care and home health. What you do to achieve it varies depending on your mood and circumstances. For some people, quiet music in the background helps. For others, noise-canceling headphones are a must.
Beyond your immediate surroundings, don't forget that sometimes, peace of mind is greatly influenced by your life circumstances. Perhaps your mindset can be improved by tackling some of your financial planning hurdles, such as understanding, improving, or changing up your life insurance needs.
If so, consider exploring the policies that are available from Ethos Life. Knowing that your loved ones are protected can take a weight off your shoulders. Get a no-commitment quote for life insurance online on the Ethos website, and review our Life Insurance 101 guide to find out more about what a policy can do for you.