Taking Care of Yourself While Working From Home

With the COVID-19 / Coronavirus pandemic, more and more people are working from home, if possible. There are tons of tweets about ergonomic setups, but, honestly, you can introduce those measures bit by bit. The pain you’ll feel from As someone who has spent about year working remotely, I can tell you that there are more immediate concerns around mental health and self-care.

Go outside in the morning

In a normal office day, you start by commuting to work. It’s easy to ignore how this wakes your brain and body up. Regardless of whether you drive to work or you take public transit, it sets your workday up. You get your body moving. You breathe some fresh, outside air. It demarks the start of your workday.

Keep that important part of your routine. It’ll lift any morning brain fog, rather than just rolling out of bed into your morning standup. Go take a walk around the block. Go get your morning coffee from a cute, local coffeeshop. Pick up some bananas for a later snack. Meet a dog! Just get out of your pajamas, get some vitamin D from the sun, and get your blood moving.

Don’t just work in one spot

Most folks in an office environment don’t just sit at their computer all day. Do you have a preferred afternoon corner at the office, where you escape to get some “real work” done? Is it a small conference room, or a cafeteria, a couch or a bean bag chair? Create that different environment at home. Make sure that give yourself that change of surroundings every few hours. Even in your tiny New York or San Francisco apartment, you’ll have a second spot to sit (or stand!) to get some work done.

And don’t forget that you can still go outside. You might find that your coffee shop, pub or library offers you the recommended 3 feet / 1 metre of isolation.

Eat some snacks

Keeping your energy levels up is an easy thing to forget when you don’t have quick access to snacks. It might not be the same offerings as at work, but if you’re used to an afternoon pick-me-up, make sure that you keep that routine.

Go get a box of some treat that you’d enjoy. If you lack in snack willpower like me, grab a Sharpie and write the list of dates on the snack wrappers or box. You’re not going to be moving as much when you work from home, so you need to be careful to eat a little less.

Socialize with people

You’re going to go stir crazy with cabin fever unless you interact with people throughout the day. When you work from home, you see and talk to far fewer people than at the office. Take active steps to change that.

Consider setting up a Discord instance with friends or coworkers, so that you can drop in-and-out and chat.

Set up a break time where you play Jackbox Party Pack games over Zoom. Drawful 2 is probably the best single purchase avaiable. Just remember to enable the Safe for Work setting and introduce something like an X-Card

I normally keep a strict no colleagues on personal social media policy, but, I’ve set up a separate Instagram account for colleagues. We set an expectation that we all share something once per day, so that we can still have those water cooler / Slack “get to know you” conversations.

And talking with actual humans at your local shops counts as well.

Actually end your day

This appears on every single Work From Home list for a reason. It can be frightenly easy to just… keep working. Or for you (or your boss) to set up meetings earlier or later in the day because no one is commuting. (Don’t be that person!) Because it isn’t sustainable. You know what a good workday looks and feels like. Hold yourself to that limit and enjoy the rest of your day.

Open your calendar and create two events. One for lunch and one for “commuting home” Give yourself this limit. Work a good day and then walk away and enjoy a good evening. And stop feeling guilty about your to-do list.

Limit how much social media you consume

This is an article about keeping your mental health up.

Top caption: How it feels waking up every morning in 2020. Image: Jean-Luc Picard on the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Bottom caption: "DAMAGE REPORT"

There’s so much terrifying news about COVID-19. Find a way to be able to learn about what’s happening with a time limit. It’ll be both too easy and too draining for you to just spend endless amounts of time on Twitter / Reddit / your dopamine provider of choice.

So, give yourself some access. Maybe you use the Screen Time or Digital Wellbeing feature of your smartphone. Or, maybe you have your smart speaker respond to “Damage Report” by playing a brief news update.

Questions? Concerns? Other ideas?

Hit me up on Twitter. I love working remotely (it’s not for everyone) so I want to hear the tips that work for you!