3 Guidelines For Working From Home To Keep You Healthy, Happy, And Sane

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3 Helpful Guidelines For Working From Home

Working from home. Socializing from home. Exercising from home. Everything from home!

This is our current reality. All has changed — but not all is lost.

It’s time to adapt. And in order to do that, you need to have the right tips to make your new work from home situation as efficient and productive as possible.

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As Bruce Lee said, "take what is useful, adapt what you can, and discard the rest."

Here are 3 working from home tips you can use to keep yourself happy and productive.

1. Extend some grace.

Coronavirus thrust you into a new reality. You're scrambling to find a way forward. The question is whether you will breakdown into anxiety, or march forward with as much grace as possible.

Acknowledge your trauma. It’s easy to skip this step, but you’ll regret it in the long run.

This is hard. Everyone's simultaneously experiencing the trauma of being shuttered in their homes, scared of the coughing, sneezing humans outside. It’s OK to be upset. Give yourself room to digest the experience.

To stay grounded and sane, you need a grace period. Specifically, you need to grieve your losses. You need time to mourn; permission to feel your sorrow. Not to linger there indefinitely, but to give your hurt the attention it deserves.

Give yourself permission to indulge, to seek comfort, and to not get it all done today.

You’re not in the office. You have different constraints, different schedules, and different levels of support or distraction. Things might not move as quickly or efficiently as you planned. That’s OK.

Be honest about where you are. Recognize your capacity to carry on with your work and ask for help, then relax. You need and deserve pleasure. Even more so, now that you are stuck at home.

If you can relax and lower your stress, help others around you do the same. Make the change for yourself, and then hold the space for others to join.

Surrender to that which you cannot change. You didn't choose to work from home, or decide it would be nice to close everything and have your life up-ended. But here you are. You can’t turn back time, unfortunately.

You need to surrender to the uncertainty and let go of what you cannot control.

Your mind and our society aren't good at accepting uncertainty, let alone trying to embrace it. But this isn't about bypassing what needs to get done. It’s about gathering yourself to move forward with grace. “Forward” does not mean “normal.”

Moving forward with grace asks you to meet the unknown of today with kindness. It asks you to keep your heart open because everyone's vulnerable right now. This shared defenselessness is scary, but is also our deepest connection.

A graceful person is elegant and beautiful in how they embody the struggle of this crazy situation. To make it through this, you need to allow grace to take root and blossom in all of us. You need to offer others the same opportunity to grieve, permission to be happy, and release of fear.

Giving grace wherever you can, especially to those putting themselves at risk because they have no other choice, is part of the privilege of working from home.

2. Establish a routine.

Routines help you feel in control. When there's so much outside of your control, daily schedules are essential. Some of your previous routines may still be intact. If they’re supporting you and those around you, keep going.

Other routines you had may no longer be possible. Get creative and build new, improved practices while working from home.

Rather than focusing on the negatives, consider what you've gained. What possibility exists now that didn’t exist just a few weeks ago?

Commutes are dead, so you can reallocate those minutes elsewhere. Time you used to spend in transit or waiting around can be spent being present where you are.

The flipside is the challenge of having no transitions. That walk to grab lunch might have given you social time with colleagues. That commute home might have provided the necessary headspace to let go of work and reenter the household.

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Since these changeover spaces are gone, you need to build-in transitions that enable you to shift gears, even when you can’t shift environments.

Do this is by changing your focus and your body. Stand, stretch, or go for a walk. Have a transition activity like a puzzle to allow you to "unfocus." Digest and absorb one thing before diving into the next.

Working from home doesn’t need to be dull — you can still have fun. In fact, it’s vital to have something to look forward to so you don’t feel trapped. Once you’ve found something, put it into your schedule. Remember: Anticipation is as important as the activity!

Don't give up on your workout routine. It’s vital for your physical and mental health to stay active. Thankfully, there’s been an outpouring of free online classes.

However, don’t obsess about needing to work out three times a day. Obsessive fitness is not what the world needs from you right now.

Of course, working from home tends to be sedentary and confined. Energy builds up. But it’s not just physical energy that needs to move through you. Mental, emotional, and spiritual energy also becomes stagnant, too.

Build your daily schedule to allow energy to move through you. This is more than just working out. It's having conversations, coming back to your breathing, and engaging in creative pursuits.

All these activities help move, balance, and regulate energy flowing in and out during the day.

Socializing has to be redefined; community now exists virtually or at a distance. But this doesn’t mean social time doesn’t matter. You just need to be more intentional about creating connections.

Create time for your whole household to come together. Ask your household to make some time to just be together as a unit.

Strengthen existing relationships via phone or video conferencing. Reach out to those you haven’t talked to in a while, commiserate and build solidarity.

Find ways to stay engaged with your local community. If you can, buy from local vendors. Call your neighbors and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them.

Set aside time in your day to connect with others beyond your working world. Schedule recurring calls or weekly hangouts. Build a routine of checking-in with people — not only so you don’t feel isolated, but because it shows you care.

3. Maintain boundaries.

You can still control aspects of your time, space, and focus. To prevent everything from blending together into one unproductive, at-home medley, boundaries are essential.

Healthy boundaries depend on a few crucial elements:

  • Identify for yourself what is essential (needed) and what is preferable (wanted). Where do you draw the line? What are the consequences of not getting your needs met?
  • Discuss how you can create spaces and times that enable you to get your needs met. Ask for what you want, but don’t demand it. Accept that some things may not be possible.
  • If you’re sharing limited space with others, acknowledge that your needs aren't the only ones. Work with what you’ve got to ensure everyone gets their needs met to the best of their ability.

Boundaries are mutually beneficial to everyone. They make it clear what's important and acceptable.

Keep in mind that in close quarters with limited options, boundaries will be tested. It won’t be easy sharing so much time and space with the same people. You need to be respectful and considerate. Look for win-win situations, not tit-for-tat squabbles.

There’s no right or wrong in the boundary world, just decisions about where you draw the line.

You need to be clear. If you don’t say anything, you can’t expect others to guess what you need. Boundaries protect you from being a victim, and protect others from unknowingly stepping on your toes.

Remember that saying "no" isn't about shutting others out. It’s about protecting what matters to you. In this case, your work, your body, and your sanity.

It will take time to adjust to social distancing and shutdowns. People are social animals — we need each other and connection. Isolation is devastating to your health and wellbeing.

But you can be socially connected while physically distant. We're all figuring this out together. And to be honest, it’s very weird.

The key is to let go of ideas of what perfection looks like. In fact, you need to go of what life looked like before coronavirus. The best place to focus is on the day.

Despite the challenges of working from home, there's still a lot you can control. You can’t control exactly what will come of all this. But you can control who you will become as a result of all this.

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Jeff Siegel is a holistic wellness coach, life coach, and author. He can be reached by email about private one-on-one life coaching.