If you have been working remotely in 2020, you know this has been a year of many changes and adjustments. As we head into the colder months with less sunlight, here are a few reminders to maintain a healthy mind and body.
Separate your work and home spaces and keep it that way. If you used to work in an office, you had time to decompress after work and before you interacted with your family, but now there is not that natural work/home separation. If you find yourself on your laptop sitting on your couch or at your kitchen table, try to designate places in your home that are only for work, and others that are only for relaxing, and don’t blur those lines.
Designate set work hours, even if they are not 9-5. At first, we thought it was great that employees are more productive working from home, but that can come at a cost if you are actually working longer hours. Flexing your hours to accommodate other family members working and schooling from home is convenient and appreciated but be careful not to flex your hours so much that you are working long into the night and into the weekends. You will not feel like you have breaks, will burn out quickly, and could actually be less productive in the long run.
Move your body
Set an alarm to get up and move or schedule time for stretching and exercise. If you are sitting at a desk and not even going to your car for a commute or going to a gym to work out, you might need to get purposeful for things you took for granted before. Set an alarm with a fun song to get up and move regularly throughout your day. You may find you are hunched in an office chair over a keyboard and may need to move those body parts in other directions.
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Be proactive about self-care during winter months. Less sun means less vitamin D and that can affect your energy level and your sleep patterns. You may notice lethargy, increased appetite, or mood changes in yourself and your family members, similar to a bear getting ready to hibernate. Standing outside in the sunshine for 20 minutes in the morning can make a significant difference. Consider buying a genuine S.A.D. light that mimics the sun’s light and using it daily or talk to your doctor about vitamin D supplements. Schedule things to look forward to during January and February. Save interesting indoor projects or hobbies for this time of year.
Change your Expectations
You cannot accomplish what you were accomplishing at this time last year. So much has happened this year and we have all been in a state of chronic stress. Be careful not to expect yourself to do things the same way you have always done them or to the same level of perfection. Keep things simpler, less extravagant. Give yourself some space and some grace by being realistic about all you have been feeling and doing, recognizing that things do not have to be “extra” at home or at work. There will be time for this again in the future, but for this year work on mindfulness and simplicity.
Accept your Emotions
You are not alone in how you are feeling. Disappointed, fearful, angry, sad, worried, overwhelmed, exhausted… these are all emotions that we have been feeling this year and that is ok. There is no one right way to feel and you are not expected to be handling things better than you are.
Try Different ways to Accomplish Goals
Get creative in getting your needs met. Consider alternatives to socializing in person, such as phone calls or video conferences with family and friends with games or sending cards and letters through the mail. If you can’t have traditional holiday gatherings, use it as an opportunity to teach your younger family members traditions or how to cook. If you can’t go on a winter vacation, spend time finally organizing your past vacation photos into slideshows set to music and watch them. This time at home in smaller groups will not last forever so consider how it might be an opportunity to do things you haven’t done before and might not have time to do again.
Utilize your Resources
Remember that you do not have to handle any of this alone. You are not a burden if you ask for help and helping will allow others to do good and feel needed. Create a list of resources and keep it handy for when you need it. The list might include a nice music playlist, funny or relaxing memes or websites, an uplifting poem, a motivational mantra, and names and numbers of people you can call or text.