Working from Home and Staying Sane

When COVID-19 hit the United States, I’d been working from home for almost 12 years, so the shift away from the office to being at home left little impact initially. Buckland Co. has been a virtual/remote company since 2008, so we were all very accustomed to the home office approach and making the magic happen in and around our living spaces. What we were not prepared for was having kids, significant others, spouses all home too, with everyone feeling varying degrees of crazy, given the social distancing and sheltering in place that was required.

So, how am I doing now that we are 14 months into this changed world and what feels like imposed isolated working conditions? The simple answer is, “It depends.” This question hinges on how well I maintain my emotional and physical self-care practices. Some were in place prior to the pandemic—and others have come as silver linings that I can’t imagine not having in my life.

Below are mindset practices I recommend. If I want to orchestrate a great day or a great week, I’ve found that I generally need to make them happen. Some are daily practices and others are weekly.

  • Decide to have a great day – It sounds silly, but it’s not. Most of us just feel like the days and weeks are having their way with us—but that doesn’t have to be the case if we choose to be positive and address negative talk head on. It’s not easy, but it does get easier with practice.
  • Take breaks – If you sit in front of your computer all day long working, scrolling social media, or refreshing news sites, your mind and body won’t get space and perspective from the tasks or news of the day. We all need space to feel more like ourselves and more connected to nature.
  • Walk – Since COVID-19 hit, I’ve been trying to get 5,000-10,000 steps in each day. It’s not always easy or possible, but I’d say I’ve been able to hit 10,000 about 80-85% of the time by getting up from my desk and walking (or pacing) for five to ten minutes each hour and getting out for two to three short walks around the neighborhood with my new pup. Breathing fresh air, being in the sun, and leaving the work back at the house is a great way to hit reset.
  • Lift Weights – For me, nothing puts my excess energy to better use than pumping iron for 30-45 minutes and reaching new personal bests. All of it is you getting stronger, faster, and more resilient by facing the challenge and moving through it.
  • Connect – This one is simple. Reach out to your colleagues and friends and ask them how they are doing. COVID has made us all a little bit better at reaching out, so let’s keep it going.
  • Space – One of the biggest challenges during this time has been trying to find mental space or separation. My family has been home together for fourteen months now. Fortunately, my office is downstairs, so I have some space where I can go and throw on some headphones and focus on my work. I’d say that this component, along with the walks, are the primary tools for feeling good and productive.

So, how are you? Are you taking care of yourself while working from home? Are there other practices that we should add to our list? If nothing else, just getting up from your desk and walking for five minutes can help. Or, take some nice deep breaths without thinking about what’s on your computer screen. If you can do that, then try one item from the above list each day this week—and start creating your own self-care tailwinds. It’s just like every flight reminds us; put your mask on first and then we can be more helpful to everyone around us.