During this period of uncertainty and anxiety, we're all experiencing similar feelings of uneasiness as we're taken out of our comfort zones. With varying schedules, at-home work setups, and career uncertainty for many, this period of time can be unsettling as we try to find a new normal within the everyday.
Working from home isn't so "new" for me. I've had my home office set up for years. My chat messengers are all synced to my phone. My work and personal files are all organized on my laptop. But this new normal that we're starting to define for ourselves is something that I'm still trying to figure out myself.
As a female who has been living with Endometriosis and Celiac disease, I have a deep appreciation for prioritizing health - both physical and mental - during times of elevated stress. Both conditions bring their share of symptoms, some that have become more manageable than others. As we're now facing a new period of adaptation and change, I'm sharing my top tips on how to bring a healthy mindset and approach to a daily routine.
Stay hydrated. Fill up your water bottle that you would usually take to work or the gym. If you're having trouble keeping track on your water intake throughout the day, fill up your Yeti growler that you may use for camping or hiking.
Set up your tunes. Research has shown that music will likely increase your productivity depending on the type of music you choose. Find your rhythm and preferred music streaming platform.
Create mini-milestones during 2-hour blocks. Develop bite-sized goals and put them in your "Get Sh*t Done Today" column. Use that as head-down time when you're pulling through deliverables and have specific milestones in place. By setting these mini-goals, we're more likely to feel accomplished by the end of day.
Light a candle. There are specific scents that directly correlate to memory, concentration, sustained attention, and cognitive function. I'm one of those people that has, at minimum, 10 different candles on deck depending on what I'm feeling. A coconut candle may bring you back to your favorite beach with a pina colada. Or perhaps a lavender calendar will bring you to your favorite remote resort spa. For a full list of scents to boost productivity, visit FragranceX.
Snuggle with your pets. Your dog or cat will notice that something is different. Take this time to notice the minor nuances or extra love that your pets want to give throughout the day. Don't go out of way and start giving them treats every hour, but if they're in need of a cuddle, you're likely in need of that cuddle too.
"Wait a minute... you're not supposed to be home right now."
Don't feel obligated to wake up at the crack of dawn. With the ease of no commute for the majority of us now, take this time to appreciate the warmth of your comforter as you set your alarm to an hour later than your usual wake time. If you previously used work or a hectic schedule as an excuse for not getting enough sleep, have no fear! Sleep in to rejuvenate your sleep cycle.
Start your day with a balanced breakfast. Oh, "balance." It's a tricky word to define these days. For some of us, breakfast may be something that would be tackled after walking through the office front door. Fuel your day with a breakfast to get you going. Take that extra time to make yourself a fancy latte. More of a tea person? Break out that tea that you've been saving for a special occasion.
Don't jump to your work emails. Take the first hour of your day to get grounded. Start with breakfast, get updated with the latest news, and scribble in your journal to set the day's intention. Are you normally an AM workout person? Do a quick search on YouTube to find a free trainer and routine that speaks to you. From 15-minute increments to a full-hour yoga session, there's everything under the sun to help you break a sweat. I don't know about you but I'm not about to regain that "Freshman-15!"
Shower, brush, floss, supplement. Just because we're home doesn't mean we should get lazy with what used to be our normal routine. Did you recently visit your dentist and get scolded for not flossing? Did you buy a full face routine over the holidays but haven't had the time to start it? What about those bottles of vitamins and supplements that are still almost full? Take advantage of the home-life to kick-in these new health routines.
Open the curtains and let the sun come on in! Just because we're home doesn't mean we're living in a cave. We all know how much better we feel after spending time in the sun. Studies have shown that low sun exposure negatively impacts productivity. When we're exposed to the sun, melatonin is released when which acts as an anti-inflammatory in our immune system. Got nosy neighbors? Give them a wave. We're all in this together.
Start thinking about dinner. No really. This is the best time to break out a new recipe that you haven't been able to tackle. Consider slow-cook or crock-pot recipes that get better over time. If you start the recipe midday, you'll have it ready by dinner time.
Start now if you're an aspiring baker. Living with Celiac disease hasn't been the easiest for me. Throughout the years, I've been able to adjust and manipulate my diet to focus on options that satisfy my cravings, but I haven't been able to find gluten-free bread that really hits the mark (except during my time in Paris). Every week, I've been tackling a new bread recipe documenting every step, noting variations on ingredients and techniques. If you're planning on bread for the afternoon or next day, start midday the day before to allow enough time for your yeast to proof. My "Bread Diary" is starting to look like a book!
Do your laundry. Before you roam about in the fridge for lunch options, start your load of laundry. By the time you're done eating, it'll likely be ready to be moved over into the dryer. This is the best way of maximizing your time during meals, in-between meetings, or throughout your head-down periods.
Become a kid again and plan for an afternoon snack. Remember the time you used to come home after school and were greeted with your favorite snack? From Dunakaroos to Bagel Bites, we can all reminisce on those indulgent treats. Now that we're in adult-mode our snack of choice may change but we all need a quick pick-me-up. If you're looking for that afternoon espresso or peanut butter rice cracker sandwich, go ahead. Just remember to keep it in moderation and keep it (relatively) healthy!
Start to wind down. If you're looking to start a new project or initiative, don't start in the late-afternoon. Tackle those last minute miscellaneous items instead. Try to minimize the number of unread emails before you decide to step away for the night. If you have any unread chat messages, make sure you respond even if it's just to tell the person on the other end that you received their request and will jump on it first thing the next day. We're all human - and especially during these times - we have to make sure that everyone on the other end is recognized and heard.
As we navigate new waters, I'm challenging everyone to shift their mindset. Instead of dreading your days at home, get a jump start on your spring cleaning. Put your work clothes aside and find comfort in your favorite pair of sweatpants. And if you're longing to chat, just send me a message!
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