I’ve heard that a lot of people have switched to working remotely until further notice. I’m here to let you in on all the mistakes I’ve made in the past 6 months working for home so you don’t have to do what I did. If I save just one person from the (back) pain I’ve experienced in this new adventure of staying home, I’ll be happy.
If you are now using slack more than you’re texting your friends, spending hours picking out the funniest virtual zoom background, and figuring out what makeup looks best on a laptop built-in webcam, this list may apply to you.
1. Don’t wear the same clothes you wore to bed to ‘go to work’.
Trust me, I know how tempting it is to just roll out of bed, lumber to your office with your joints still stiff, and immediately get to work. This isn’t good. This means you're carrying your sleepy brain with you to work, and that might not reflect well on your next performance review.
A fresh change of clothes, and if you’re feeling ambitious, a shower, will do wonders to wake you up. It’s hard to remember that it’s a new day when it always looks the same but getting dressed serves as a reminder. It can also be a self-care ritual and way to express yourself by taking the time to pick out an outfit every day, even though only your dog will see it.
Maybe take a leaf out of John Krasinski’s book and wear comfy bottoms with a business formal top, because half is better than none. If you’re someone who wears makeup, applying some in the mornings has helped me get in a productive state of mind, too. There is something about “getting ready” that makes me... feel ready.
2. Don’t stay indoors all day.
The sun is more important than you think. Most office employees are vitamin-d deficient, and I’d venture to guess that even more remote workers are lacking sunshine. The American West was partially settled by Northerners fleeing to open land for fresh air and sun, as it was proven to heal and prevent diseases like smallpox.
Time outdoors can boost not only your immune system but relieve stress and positively impact your mental health. Getting sunlight will also help you sleep better later on, which again, is important for your health mentally and physically. It feels unproductive to say that stress is bad for the immune system during one of the most stressful events in recent history, but small things like sunshine and fresh air can make a monumental difference.
As a city dweller, I understand this may not be an easy task, but even a 5-minute walk around the block is enough to make a difference. If you have a pet - even better. Put your mask on and get walking. Don’t take my word for it - try it every day for a week and see how you feel.
3. Don’t sit for longer than 30 minutes at a time.
This is important for your circulation, health, digestion, and focus. Sitting for long periods of time day after day increases your risk for blood clots and stroke. It also cuts off circulation to your legs, which over time causes spider veins.
Set a timer and every time it goes off, walks around. I also recommend going for a long walk every day or doing some kind of cardio workout to get your blood pumping. Blood is designed to pump oxygen and nutrients throughout your body, but you need to move to do that. Humans didn’t evolve to be as sedentary as we are today, so we need to adjust accordingly to stay healthy.
There are plenty of workplace solutions to help with this, and a standing desk can make a huge difference in circulation, which improves health and productivity. You just so happen to be in the right place for some pretty awesome standing desks here at Autonomous.
4. Don’t stay up late and sleep in just because you can.
This is so hard for me not to do. For some reason, Wikipedia and Reddit seem to suck me in so much more at night. If I let myself go, I will spend hours in the dark with the glow of a screen illuminating my face as I get deeper into threads that seem important but usually aren’t. If you’re remote and even more so if you’re freelance, it’s very hard to enforce a bedtime, but it’s important.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every night will tune up the circadian clock in your head and contribute to your overall health and wellbeing. If you’re like me and have a very hard time doing this, put away your electronics an hour before actually going to sleep and read a book or write in a journal instead.
We all know that digital screens keep us awake, but putting them away before bed is so hard. Habits are difficult to start but eventually stick, so don’t give up.
5. Don’t slack on your personal hygiene.
I’m going to tell you a secret right now. I hate showering. Of course I still do it because I’m an adult, but every time I do I’m slightly annoyed about it. It just seems so time-consuming when I could be doing so many other exciting things like playing Skyrim or watching alien conspiracy YouTube videos.
I was already a remote worker before the quarantine, but now that I barely go anywhere, it’s become easy to convince myself that I don’t need to shower. I’ve listened to that smelly devil on my shoulder a few times, and take it from me, he’s lying. Showering does make you feel better. It’s like a toddler eating broccoli - it’s not pleasant but it is healthy. I happen to like broccoli as an adult, so hopefully one day I’ll learn to love showering.
In the meantime, I will continue to force myself to do it every day because it makes me feel better and more human, especially during a time when I can’t see my friends and family and my mental health may not be at it’s best.
6. Don’t forget that this will pass.
It’s easy to lose hope at this point. In early March, I thought we’d be in quarantine for two weeks at most. Now it’s June and I’m not sure when things will return to normal. I have to remind myself every single day that this isn’t forever.
I have to call my friends, take care of myself, treat myself and others with kindness, and breathe. There is another side to this and it’s vital to take care of yourself in the meantime.
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