As COVID-19 continues to spread, social distancing has become imperative to the health of the world. Events have been cancelled, schools are closed, and offices are encouraging workers to stay home.
At Relativity, we’re incredibly fortunate to have the resources to transition to a remote-work model, and we know that many of our customers are doing the same. And although technology can make remote work easier than ever, working from your dining room table can be a big adjustment for some.
Personally, I’ve worked remotely for more than two years, thanks to a supportive employer that prioritizes work/life balance and allows for flexible arrangements. I love it now, but it wasn’t always easy.
One thing I’ve found, however, is that practicing self-care can go a long way.
It may sound silly—especially in the wake of a pandemic—but self-care is a Real Thing that can vastly improve your mental, emotional, and even physical health and wellbeing. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the monumental importance of self-care, defining it as:
“The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Unfortunately, if you’re not vigilant in staying active and (distantly) social, being a remote worker can have big effects on your ability to self-care. Thankfully, just as technology makes it possible for us to stay virtually connected, it can help us stay healthy, too.
To help you get started, here are a few tips and some favorite apps to help you practice self-care and thrive in your new work-from-home life.
Stay active in between meetings.
Exercise is about more than just maintaining your physical health. According to Psychology Today, it can vastly improve your cognitive abilities, too.
For one, increased breathing means more oxygen to the brain, which can have an impact on memory and thinking. And two, exercise promotes the creation of certain brain proteins responsible for brain plasticity, memory, and learning. Plus, as Elle Woods famously quipped: “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy…”
Try tools like 7-Minute Workout in between meetings when you have just a few minutes to spare. You can get your heartrate pumping using nothing but your bodyweight, a chair, and a wall.
If you want something a bit more flexible, try Streaks Workout for customizable sweat sessions in 6-, 12, 18-, or 30-minute increments. Bonus: it comes in 23 languages. Downside: It’s only available for iOS.
Listen to your mother: Sit up straight.
Sitting or standing straight can prevent health problems, beyond a sore back and neck. Harvard Medical School calls out three surprising ones that might make you blush: incontinence, constipation, and heartburn/slowed digestion.
There are endless apps out there to help you keep your spine “neutral and upright” like Harvard’s researchers suggest. PostureMinder is a great Chrome extension that reminds you to sit up straight at set intervals. You’ll love it because 1) it’s free and easy to use; and 2) it’s a little bit sassy. Try it out to see what I mean.
Practice mindful meditation.
Your mental health deeply affects how you think, feel, and act, so it’s important to keep it top of mind. But unfortunately, mental wellness is often overlooked in favor of other indicators of “health”—despite one in five American adults experiencing a mental health issue in their lifetime.
There’s no single thing you can do to stay mentally healthy. It’s an amalgamation of a bunch of little things. That said, meditation has become a hot practice.
In a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine, mindful meditation was shown to help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
At the very least, meditation is a nice brain break. And, for only a few minutes a day, worth a shot.
There are endless apps on the market to get your Zen on, and Aura is a really cool one that uses machine learning to better understand your needs and offer up personalized meditation recommendations. But, it does come with a hefty price-tag of $3.99/week. If you’re looking for something that’s a little more budget friendly, try Oprah’s favorite, Calm, for $60/year.
Office culture has breaks built in throughout the day, even beyond the expected lunch and bathroom needs. You stroll to meetings. You chit-chat at the water cooler. You go out for coffee with colleagues.
Those little breaks, even when they’re short, can support increased productivity, creativity, motivation. A study by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that brief diversions can dramatically improve focus. Other studies show that microbreaks—those between 30 seconds and five minutes long—can improve mental acuity by 13 percent on average and increase productivity by over 11 percent.
Reboot is a really simple and kind of funny site where you choose a time increment—two, three, or five minutes—to “take a break from all the noise and appreciate the beauty of silence.” Once your time begins, you can’t move your cursor or you have to start over. Give it a shot.
Have patience and compassion.
At the end of the day, one of the best ways to self-care is to be gentle—with yourself and with others.
This is an uneasy time for everyone, especially for those who are now facing disruption in income on top of it all. As office workers, we’re lucky to have the flexibility to perform our jobs from home. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s easy, but we’re all doing our best to roll with what’s next.
With that in mind, remember that your colleagues and workers may need a little bit of support during this time—and remember that’s okay for you to ask for help, too.
Kids might be joining conference calls, and co-workers might ask for a helping hand on projects outside your purview. The best thing we can all do is try our best, ask for help when we need it, and hang in there.
We may not all be in the same conference rooms anymore, but we’re all in this together.