Home working has never been so popular, but handling your business from the house isn’t as simple as rolling out of bed and opening your laptop.
Being a successful home worker involves striking a difficult balance between your employment and the rest of your life. If you don’t get that balance right, you’re more likely to encounter mental health issues, burnout and a loss of productivity.
A key part of navigating the challenges of home working is developing a successful self-care routine. If you get that right, you’ll maintain a good work/life balance, you won’t become overwhelmed with your job and you’ll be calmer and happier.
If you’re unsure how to start, read on for our top ten self-care methods – proven practices that can improve your home and work life in equal measure. We’ve got more productive advice, too, including the five soft skills to master and crucial communication skills that can help you succeed.
Maintain a dedicated workspace
The best way to take care of yourself and develop a healthy work/life balance is to keep your work and the rest of your life separated – even if you’re working at home.
If you can use a particular room as your home office that’s perfect. You’ll be able to open the door, step into a professional space in the morning, and close the door in the evening to leave it all behind. Your home will remain a safe space, enabling you to better enjoy your downtime.
It’s not just about having a dedicated space, either – that space needs to be considered. Keep it clean and organized, use plants, and make sure it’s light. If you’ve got a tidy and pleasant workspace, you’ll enter in a more professional frame of mind.
Keep the house clean
And, talking of the home, you shouldn’t just make sure that your workspace is neat and tidy too. A clean, tidy and well-organized home will keep your happier in the morning and at the end of the day, and leave you free of distractions when you want to make the most of your leisure time.
Keep yourself clean, too.
It seems like we’re banging on about keeping your home and office tidy, but it really does help create a pleasant environment for your workday and beyond.
And, similarly, if you start your day right you’ll set yourself up for better self-care, too. Get up in the morning, have a shower and put on clean clothes – home working might seem like the perfect time to be lazy, but you’ll feel better if you take care of yourself. And don’t worry about being formal, either; you can keep it as casual as you like to ensure that you’re comfortable.
This will help get you in the zone for work, make you feel better about yourself, and help you feel energetic and engaged throughout the day – so you’ll have more energy after work, too. In terms of personal and professional self-care, there aren’t many better quick fixes.
Everyone enjoys a good snack, especially if you’re working at home with no prying eyes, but if you commit to a balanced diet, you’ll feel the benefits physically and mentally.
Healthier snacks are a better option for daytime grazing, especially if you want to look after your body and mind simultaneously, and they can help provide natural energy for after-work fun or daytime productivity. And make sure you drink plenty of water, too – hydration is essential.
We’re not saying you can’t enjoy chips or cookies during your workday, but make sure you’ve got some fruit or nuts available too.
Get some exercise
Want to feel better in your brain? Then move your body. Getting some exercise will boost your mood and energy, and you don’t need to do much – a ten-minute walk or five minutes of stretching will help. Regular exercise has been proven to improve mental health, boost immune function and increase mental abilities.
If you can include exercise as part of your morning routine then that will make your entire day better. If not, try to incorporate it as part of your lunch break, or get some exercise after work. No matter when it happens, exercise is a key part of any good self-care routine.
If you start work in the morning, stay at your desk all day and then don’t leave until late you’re not going to have a good time – you’ll be tired, grouchy and unproductive, and you’ll have less energy to enjoy yourself after work.
If you want to take better care of yourself during your workday, take yourself away from your screen every hour – your mood and concentration levels will improve. If you can take your break outside, near natural environments, that’s even better. You can even use apps like Xx or XX to prompt a break from work. And in the middle of the day, make sure you have an extended lunch break with some healthy food to set yourself up for a productive, happy afternoon and evening.
You won’t feel very calm or happy if your days are a mess of deadlines and last-minute requests. Instead, maintain a to-do list of work and home tasks so you can get things done efficiently and without becoming overwhelming.
Lists and plans help you stay calm and in control of your day – and if you want to make the most out of home working and enjoy your leisure time too, that’s vital.
Learn to breathe
No matter what self-care routines you put in place, there will be days when work spirals out of control and stress levels rise. And if you want to navigate those successfully, you should practice breathing techniques and meditation on a daily basis – even before things go wrong.
Apps like Headspace and Calm are easily accessible, and if you develop breathing and meditation techniques in advance, you’ll be better-placed to handle stress when it does arise in your work or personal life.
Get good sleep
There isn’t much better than sleep for looking after your body and mind. If you sleep well, you’ll wake up rested, ready for the day and in a better mood – but if you’ve had an interrupted night or not enough sleep then you’ll know how it can hinder your focus and emotions.
Developing a good sleep routine is one of the best self-care methods around. Don’t stay up too late, limit your screen time before bed, don’t eat too much late in the evening and avoid caffeine. If you get good, consistent sleep then your whole life will improve.
Invest in a good chair
This isn’t achievable for everyone, but if you’re working at home then it’s worth investing in a top-quality office chair. After all, you’ll be spending eight hours a day at your desk – we recommend paying a bit more to ensure that you feel comfortable and look after your neck and back.
Office and gaming chairs both offer high-quality designs with lumbar support, neck cushions and plenty of adjustment, and a good chair can protect your body and ensure you feel comfortable, supported and limber throughout the day and beyond.
Remember, too, that lots of companies will offer financial support to help employees who want to work at home, so check if your employer will contribute to the potentially high costs of a great office chair.
How to work from home: everything you need for remote working (opens in new tab).