This article is the second of a two-part series aimed at preventing Work-From-Home (WFH) Burnout. Be sure to read5 Wellness Challenges in a Work From Home World. Whether you have recently transitioned to a WFH situation, manage a team of remote workers, or desire to prevent burnout and live a life of wellness, the following principles can help you thrive.
10 Practical Solutions For WFH Challenges
1. Create a separate workspace
Having a separate space away from distractions cannot be overstated. Establishing an office dedicated to working defines boundaries around space, function, and time. Keep a regular schedule that involves waking at a particular time, dressing in comfortable but professional clothing, and scheduling frequent refreshment breaks.
Benefits of a designated workspace include the ability to focus and foster productivity, minimize decision fatigue concerning where you work, and when you don’t, and decrease ambiguous stress related to having work always present.
2. Welcome beauty and nature
Make your space a place where you love to spend time. Keep the area neat and tidy, minimize clutter, and put work away when finished. Hang artwork on your wall and add personal touches such as photographs of family and friends, and reminders of achievements. Bring your personality into the space.
If possible, set up your office in a room with a window so you can let in fresh air and sunlight. Introduce plants by placing fresh flowers or cacti. According to a 2016 study, introducing a small amount of nature into an indoor workspace could improve mental health. Furthermore, natural elements in a space predicted overall better health and greater job satisfaction. 1
3. Nourish your body
Fuelling your physical body sustains your ability to work well. Whether you prepare your meals, pick up pre-made food, or order take-out, make sure to eat a balanced diet. Use a free online menu planner to turn good intentions into a well-designed plan.
Exercise formally and informally. Stand up and stretch every hour. Go for a short walk or perform a yoga sequence several times a day. Whenever possible, take meetings outside and walk by using a headset or earbuds with a microphone. More formally, schedule exercise into your week, incorporating your favourite activities such as biking, paddling, or pilates. Find a plethora of exercise videos online to follow and keep you motivated.
Prioritize sleep to encourage clear thinking and a positive attitude. Protect your bedtime with a consistent sleep schedule to align circadian rhythms for nightly mental and physical restoration and resilience.
4. Nurture your mind
Alleviate stress by focussing on one action item. Break down tasks into achievable goals and eliminating multitasking. Play relaxing, non-vocal music quietly in the background. Monitor your breathing and remind yourself to breathe from your diaphragm rather than your chest. Practice relaxation breathing techniques such as the Box Breathing using instructions provided on Medical News Today 2
- Close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose while counting to four slowly. Feel the air enter your lungs.
- Hold your breath inside while counting slowly to four. Try not to clamp your mouth or nose shut. Simply avoid inhaling or exhaling for 4 seconds.
- Begin to slowly exhale for 4 seconds.
- Repeat steps 1 to 3 at least three times. Ideally, repeat the three steps for 4 minutes, or until calm returns.
Free up your mind by practicing meditation, incorporating mindfulness, and embracing silence.
5. Prioritize self-care
Learn what brings you restoration and peace and engage in fulfilling opportunities daily. Creating daily spaces to fill up your joy-tank and nourishing your mind, body, and spirit will make your days more fulfilling and less stressful.
Make self-care fun and not a chore. Embrace activities that enhance your physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational well-being. Satisfy many objectives simultaneously by mixing physical movement and social well-being when you walk with a friend. Nourish yourself spiritually and mentally with a mindfulness practice while engaging with your creativity as you read books and sacred texts, paint, or journal.
Establish daily routines coinciding with boundaries, such as exercising when you first awake, enjoying meals with loved ones physically or virtually, and practicing gratitude just before bedtime.
6. Develop healthy boundaries
Maintain a schedule based upon your ideal lifestyle. If you are a morning person, get up early and enhance your mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being with reading, reflection, and planning. If you are a night owl, set your alarm for a reasonable time and prioritize self-care for the end of the day.
Schedule your work for peak performance. Block off a 90-minute block of uninterrupted focus time to work on your most important project. Work in your designated workspace away from distractions. As much as you can, engage in meetings and non-negotiable teamwork in a manner that supports your health. Encourage walking meetings, whether in person or on your phone. Request interwork connections to occur away from screens. Get up and stretch or walk around during conversations while staying mindfully connected.
Institute start and end times for your work and defer requests for after-hour meetings and interactions to working hours. Talk with your manager and team about establishing regular connection times and agree upon limiting communications outside specific times.
7. Define exposure to social media and technology
Decide upon when and where you will engage with social media and devices. If engaging with social media is part of your job, make it part of your routine. If not, participate in social media outside of working hours. Either way, the first and most critical step to take is removing alerts from your phone. Instead, make informed choices around when you engage with social media. Use this simple formula to create healthy boundaries around social media:
- Plan – Make your time intentional. Decide what you are hoping to get out of the time you spend engaging with each platform.
- Time – Decide on the amount of time you want to spend. Set a timer, and once it goes off, evaluate if additional time will serve a desirable purpose.
- Attention – Give it your full attention. Multitasking is ineffective and uses up substantial brain resources. Recognize how social media makes you feel. Does it make you joyful or anxious? Consider whether the outcomes are worth involvement.
Once work finishes, turn off text and email notifications from work-related sources. Block off times when screens are off-limits. Practice putting your phone in a designated place during meal times where it is out of sight, out of earshot, and out of mind. Follow appropriate sleep hygiene by limiting exposure to screens a minimum of one hour before bedtime. Leave your phone and other screens outside of your bedroom, and make a habit of not checking screens until at least one hour after waking.
8. Cultivate relationships
Relationships are essential for maintaining health. Harvard Medical School published an article stating, “Good connections and social support can improve health and increase longevity.” It continues, “Social connections… not only give us pleasure, they also influence our long-term health in ways every bit as powerful as adequate sleep, a good diet, and not smoking. Dozens of studies have shown that people who have social support from family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” 3
Make social interaction part of your daily self-care routine. Enjoy a meal with family, friends, or roommates when possible. Connect with loved ones for weekly conversations, whether in person, on the phone, or virtually. Engage in a spiritual community that feeds your soul while encouraging positive relationships and making a difference locally or globally. Join a book club to discuss ideas, cultivate higher thinking, and broaden your horizons.
9. Cultivate a relationship with nature
The Yale School of the Environment published a 2020 article stating, “A growing body of research points to the beneficial effects that exposure to the natural world has on health, reducing stress and promoting healing.”
A publication by Scientific Reports entitled Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and well-being, states “In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t.” 4, 5
Elevate your mood by spending time in nature. Eat lunch outside, away from technology. Take meetings outdoors with headphones while sitting on a park bench or going for a walk. Work from your deck or terrace on a nice day.
Whatever you do, breathe in the fresh air and leave your stressors behind. Go for a hike in a nature preserve or local woodlands. Bike along city trails and rural roads. Take a drive into the country. Decrease isolation by exploring your neighborhood and having conversations with people. Enjoy the beauty of nature’s sunrise or sunset.
10. Fuel your passion
Every day, remind yourself why you do what you do. Focussing on the motivation behind the tasks can help you rediscover your passion and energize you for the tasks ahead.
Develop your strengths and be aware of your weaknesses. Choose to work within your strengths whenever possible, and surround yourself with people and information resources that allow you to excel regardless of your vulnerabilities. Review your values and connect them to your work. Working within your personal and professional strengths and values not only helps you to excel but lights the passion that sustains.
Implement creativity within your workspace and responsibilities to foster innovation. Sparking a sense of curiosity and ingenuity fosters novelty and can revolutionize your career and the way you think about work.
Cultivating wellness within your Work From Home reality can transform your health, joy, and productivity. Encouraging positive working relationships, appropriate boundaries, and a robust self-care routine can help you prevent burnout, create a life of wellness, and motivate you to thrive.
Now that you have had the chance to read this article go to 5 Wellness Challenges in a Work From Home World to apply the solutions you have gained to the identified challenges.
1. A. Mihyang et al., “Why We Need More Nature at Work: Effects of Natural Elements and Sunlight on Employee Mental Health and Work Attitudes,” PLoS One 11, no 5 (May 2016): e0155614.
2. Adrienne Stinson, “Box Breathing: How to Do It, Benefits, and Tips,” Medical News Today (MediLexicon International, June 1, 2018), https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321805.
3. Harvard Health Publishing, “The Health Benefits of Strong Relationships,” Harvard Health, August 6, 2019, https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/the-health-benefits-of-strong-relationships.
4. Jim Robbins, “Ecopsychology: How Immersion in Nature Benefits Your Health,” Yale E360, January 9, 2020, https://e360.yale.edu/features/ecopsychology-how-immersion-in-nature-benefits-your-health.
5. Mathew P. White et al., “Spending at Least 120 Minutes a Week in Nature Is Associated with Good Health and Wellbeing,” Nature News (Nature Publishing Group, June 13, 2019), https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3.