A lot has been written over the years about “work-life” balance. But what happens when work and life together get in the way of being the best and healthiest versions of ourselves? As the threat of COVID-19 turned the world upside down, everyone at one point or another (myself included) paused to contemplate their own mortality. What if my family or I gets this?
If there was ever a time we needed to pause and focus on our personal wellness – it’s now. The distractions and extra challenges of working from home, worrying about loved ones, while social distancing ourselves from a potentially deadly collision with COVID can all exhaust the mind, body and soul – which can only weaken our immunity to fight illness.
Health is again the new wealth – but not everyone is biting. A recent Axios article notes that the pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on the health of Americans, in part due to the bad habits we’ll pick up during the weeks and months we’re forced to stay home. Everyone’s wellness journey is their own, but even simple steps can translate to important gains.
Following are 7 tips to nourish the mind, body and soul while working from home:
- Sometimes No News is Good News: Let’s face it – the news has not been full of rainbows and unicorns, which can dramatically raise a person’s stress levels. Things will certainly improve soon, but in the meantime, consider limiting the news to 1-2 daily updates. If you like working with background noise, turn up the radio, a podcast or favorite TV show
- Recast Your Commute Time: Instead of sleeping later, take advantage of the time you spent commuting to enrich yourself at the start and end of each workday – walk, run, bike, yoga, meditate, or play with the kids. Research shows that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your brainpower for a short time afterward, while enhancing your immunity.
- Turn Off the “Fasten Seat Belt” Sign: It’s easy to sit at the computer and stay there for 5-6 straight hours as if you’re on a cross-country flight. After all, we’re not hustling to various meetings, popping down to a colleague’s office, or walking to the car or train. Create a schedule that gives you permission to get up, clear your head and get the blood moving.
- Think Outside the Blocks: As we turn the corner toward nicer weather, head outside often to take in some fresh air, the sun and blue skies. Research shows that sunlight can increase the brain’s release of the hormone serotonin, which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Just don’t forget your lotion!
- Practice Workspace Distancing: Many people relish the separation that comes from leaving the office and winding down during a commute home. It’s easy to get caught up in the “always-on” mindset when your computer sits open in a common space in your house. Set aside work locations and boundaries to minimize burnout and keep your head fresh.
- Laughter Is Great Medicine: There’s a ton of research that shows how laughter strengthens the immune system, boosts the mood, diminishes pain, and protects you from the negative effects of stress. Winding down the workday with board games, connecting with friends and family, or engaging content that makes you laugh is time well spent.
- Extend a Heart to Others: Finally, for those in a position to head out into the community, there are a number of local programs that are in need of support right now, such as blood donations, Meals on Wheels, and grocery deliveries to those in need. The opportunity to help others provides great purpose and endless mental and physical benefits.
These are extraordinary times for life and work. As my late Irish mother would always say, “this too shall pass” as we flatten the curve and slowly return to work, life and whatever the new normal will look like on the other side. For now, we have more time than ever before to spend with loved ones, and the opportunity to work on being the healthiest versions of ourselves.
As the expression goes – “he who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything.” – Thomas Carlyle
Be safe, be smart, be well.