Finally, the job fairy gods came down and granted our earthly wish of working from the comfort of our home in our three-day-old pajamas or sweats and being on our own damn schedule. Yeah -- you aren’t the boss of me! It sounded really good… right? We have long fantasized and romanticized this idea and dreamt of what it would be like and now, just like magic, our wish has been granted. However, instead of feeling like we have just won the job lottery, many people realize their dream is a f*@king nightmare. Who the hell ever put it in our heads that working from home was heaven f@#king lied! It is more like Castaway where you are stuck on a deserted tropical island and your best friend is a volleyball named Wilson. What could possibly go wrong?
As much of the nation has been ordered to shelter in place, many people are now finding themselves in very different work situations. No more gossip at the water cooler or quick trips to the coffee machine to flirt with your latest crush, or catch up with your bestie. No more lunches with co-workers, or even after-work libations. Shit, you can’t even go to the bathroom without being followed and with kids being at home now it’s like a prison sentence 24/7. What did we do to deserve this? Many sit staring out the window contemplating this and pray to the job fairies making promises that you’ll never, ever, ever complain about your job again. What day is it? Who am I? What’s my name?
Your life has been completely turned upside down overnight. No one told you that this was the day you would wake up and your whole life would change -- for the worst -- it is the equivalent of hell. Working from home can be very isolating, after all, we are social beings and many people have forged life long friendships with co-workers and colleagues, not to mention their work husband or work wife. This new-found isolation isn’t even therapeutic now matter how much they try to cram the “don’t worry, be happy” bullshit down our throats. Let’s face it, this is challenging, many are failing and they want to wake up from this nightmare and go back to the office. So grab a latte, sit your stinky ass back in your comfy chair and cozy bunny slippers, relax and enjoy the read, it isn’t all doom and gloom -- there is light at the end of the tunnel. These twelve tips from a seasoned work-at-home professional just might be enough to pull you through your personal hell until you get back to the office.
Routine During Quarantine
s someone who has worked from home for the past 10 years, I can attest to how important a routine is to your overall mental wellbeing. Without a routine, it is very difficult to be mentally healthy. When you don't have a routine you dis-regulate your circadian rhythm which regulates your mood. When you aren't waking up at a selected time each day, you dis-regulate your eating habits which trigger a physiological response and can throw your chemistry into a fight-or-flight mode which will have a downward spiral into anxiety, depression and mood swings. Having a routine stabilizes your nervous system and gives you meaning and purpose. It sets the day and up and tells your brain what you are going to accomplish for that day. If you don't have a routine, at the end of the day you feel like you've done nothing and your brain registers that. Do that for a week and that is disastrous on your mental health. Once can quickly sink into a nihilistic mindset of hopelessness and despair.
Do one thing every day that will improve your life.
I believe in the power of compounding interest. The very first thing I do every day is to make sure I’m taking steps to improve my life. I really try to think about what I can do today to make my life better than it was yesterday. I make a mental note so I don’t forget to do it and subconsciously my brain looks for opportunities. Every time you take a step towards improving your life, those steps start to compound and build on each other and create a positive feedback loop and propel you into the direction you want to go. This isn't optional and it is very powerful. When you start to see the results of those little steps -- even in the darkest of times -- you get excited and that excitement creates momentum and motivation. It gives you focus and purpose. These are essential for working at home.
Rise And Shine
#2 wake up at the same time every day. It doesn't matter what time you wake up, just make sure you wake up at the same time each day so you don't whack out your circadian rhythm.
#3 get yourself ready. Whatever that means to you, do it. I don't care if you sit in your pajamas all day, but make sure you do something to make yourself feel good about yourself! I like to wake up, get dressed, wash my face, apply some face cream, put on something cute to walk my dog, do a face mask, make my bed while I'm waiting for my face mask to dry, and then just make sure I look presentable TO ME -- even if I sit in my pajamas all day, I want to look damn good. If you don't take a few minutes to put yourself together that will really wear on you after a few days. Every time you get a glimpse of your reflection in a mirror or the refrigerator or facetime, it will mess you with you mentally. You will really start to feel bad about yourself and even ashamed. You don't need that extra luggage to burden right now!
Don’t wear yesterday’s shit
#4 It’s too easy to do, just stay in your clothes day in and day out. No one knows. Why does it matter if you change or not? Who cares? First, because they stink and have body oil and sweat on them. Second, this will begin to wear on you mentally. So, take off your pajamas and your favorite comfy sweats and throw them in the laundry so you can't wear them again. Change your outfit every day. Don't leave your favorite pajamas and sweats on the floor where they are easy to jump into, because the temptation will be strong and you will talk yourself into those nasty sweat pants only to feel bad later. There is something about putting on a new outfit that makes you feel productive. Trust me, you'll thank me later for that one.
One year I found sweat pants I loved and bought them in every color. I wore them every day for six months. Until one day I got a glimpse of myself and realized I was letting myself go. When I saw my reflection I was embarrassed. Needless to say, I burned every damn pair and I only own one pair of sweats now that I rarely wear. How you dress actually has an influence on how you feel about yourself.
#5 eat breakfast within one hour of waking up. Eating a protein-rich meal stabilizes your blood sugar levels, your cortisol levels and is satiating so you're not snaking all day long. The last thing you want to do is put on weight during this time. That will really mess you up. Put a note inside the fridge and the cookie cabinet where you can see it with this question “What The Hell Are You Doing Here? Are You Hungry or Self-Soothing?” Food is very comforting and it is so easy to overeat during this time especially when working from home. Make sure to eat a good breakfast to stop the meaningless munchies. Eating a protein-rich breakfast with a minimum of 30 grams of protein takes your body out of the catabolic state -- breaking down of the muscles -- from your overnight fast. Having stable blood sugar and cortisol levels stabilizes your nervous system. The last thing you want to do is kick yourself into a fight-or-flight response and rev up your anxiety and stress. Keep your moods stable by eating a good protein and fat-rich breakfast. Stay away from sugars and sweets.
#6 set goals. Goals are important to your mental health as the progress and achievement of your goals leave you happy and satisfied. Set very manageable goals for the day. Don't try to be an overachiever and set a ridiculous amount of goals. Make sure they are achievable so at the end of the day you actually feel good about yourself -- especially if you are a newbie at working from home. The last thing you want is to feel like you failed, so go easy on the goal setting, but set some goals.
Turn Off The Telly
#7 This is just a no brainer. If you want to accomplish anything during this time, turn off the damn television. You don’t need to hear about every death or all the doom-n-gloom the media spews out. Tune it out, catch up later and even then I would be careful how much you watch or read. The same goes for social media. It will suck you in and drain your brain. You will waste on average 4 hours a day on social media doing absolutely nothing and it will leave you more depressed with zero to show for that lost time. This is not productive and you don’t need the added depression!
Pay To Play
#8 and this is a big one, reward yourself during the day. Working from home can be very isolating so set up some sort of reward program where if you accomplish 20-30-50 or 80% of a goal, you will do something or give yourself something really want and like. This is very effective. For example, I have to write a lot. I hate writing. Loathe it. So, I set a goal that I'm going to write so much and then take a break and go for a 15-minute walk because I love being outside -- or have a piece of chocolate or both! I make the reward worthwhile. For you that could be watching one episode of your favorite series or talking to family or friends for a bit or buying that shirt you want. Whatever gives you pleasure and makes you happy. Self-regard is very important and rewards yourself actually increases your self-control, especially when you are trying to form new habits and break old ones. Rewarding myself regularly with “treats” really helps me stay focused and motivated and I get more done when I do this. Trying to beat yourself with a switch will only work for a couple of days -- for some, a few hours. Ultimately, beating yourself up destroys your self-control.
#9 exercise. You already know this but just in case. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins that interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine and really help stave off anxiety and depression.
Get Yo Ass To Bed
#10 go to bed at the same time every night. Don't stay up until 3 am binge-watching the latest episode on NetFlix or surfacing Instagram. This will be disastrous on your circadian rhythm and mental health, but you already know this.
#11 Take an Epsom Salt Bath. Who doesn’t like a nice, quiet bath? Taking a bath is an excellent way to disconnect and decompress from stress. Adding Epsom Salts to your bath just quadruples the healing benefits. Plain Epsom Salt (magnesium sulfate) from CVS or Walgreens is the most convenient and affordable way to go. If you are low in sulfur you will really benefit from a warm Epsom Salt bath because of the sulfur. Sulfur, after calcium and phosphorus, is the most abundant mineral element found in our body it helps reduce pain by slowing the nerve impulses that transmit pain signals. People who struggle with pain would benefit from regular Epsom Salt baths because magnesium and sulfur are needed to block the sensory neurons from painful or injurious stimulus. Basically, the more magnesium and sulfur deficient you are, the more "perceived" pain you will have throughout the body. So, indulge yourself, turn off all the lights, slide into the steamy hot water, and feel the tension leave your body. I am known to fall asleep in the bath within minutes of relaxing only to wake up an hour later wondering how I didn't drown.
If you don't have a bathtub try a foot soak. The same rules apply as a bath but you are just soaking your feet instead of your entire body. Make this relaxing and enjoyable. I use a 6lb bag in my baths. Unfortunately, two cups don’t do a thang. That being said, make sure to check with your doctor before taking an Epsom Salt bath as there are contraindications with some medications, especially blood pressure medications. Magnesium naturally lowers your blood pressure and that can cause problems. Always check with your doctor before jumping into an Epsom Salt bath.
Last but not least, #12 make sure to be getting adequate amounts of magnesium. Whether you are taking an oral supplement or using our topical magnesium creams and balms, don't skimp on the Mg. Your brain needs magnesium for healthy mental wellbeing. Read our latest blog post to understand how important the Magnesium is to your brain.
Just like they say in an alcoholics anonymous meeting, take what you like and leave what you don’t. Try a few or all of these tips and see which ones work for you. Once you establish your own routine you’ll really start to feel productive and less like your losing your mind.
Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get it right, remember tomorrow is another day. Just pick up where you left off and keep working at it. The underlying key to all of these tips is discipline. It is really hard to self-regulate in a home environment. It is full of distractions and a lot of silence. Working in an office provides much-needed structure and discipline. While we romanticize about being our own boss most people don’t have the discipline or structure to do it -- as many are finding this out. Your office job provides you an environment with a lot of structure so you can function optimally. Without structure and routine things quickly turn into chaos. The sooner you can discipline yourself using some of these tips, the more structure you will bring to your work-at-home life and the happier and more productive you will be during this time. Before you know it you will conquer this work-from-home thing and be the boss. You got this!