Tips to Stay Healthy, Productive and Even Motivated While Working From Home

Many of us have had the option to work from home in the past; however, now it’s for an extended period of time rather than a day here and there. As a result of COVID a lot of us are being forced to stay at home for the safety of ourselves and others. Now we are tasked with trying to be just as productive without our normal resources and routines. While working from home sounds like a luxury, it’s certainly no vacation and being productive is easier said than done. In this blog, we’re sharing some tips to keep you on track and motivated while working from home. 

Let’s Break it Down
First off, stop being so hard on yourself as working from home is a huge transition from the actual office! Who would have thought that over the past year, we would still be working from home in January 2021. Since this crazy pandemic started you may have felt all the emotions from lonely, stressed, frustrated,  happy and even relieved. Maybe you have been even more productive or you're in a creative rut. Just know that we are all feeling these emotions and it's NORMAL!  Any change takes time, so try to be easy on yourself. Even though our world is a bit different, remember this will not last forever. Stay positive and be grateful we’ll find some happiness during this uncertain time!

Diving Deep Into Work-Life Balance
Every job and position requires something different; however, there are some key tips we can all implement to get tasks done efficiently; not to mention, staying healthy and sane while doing it! 

Embrace Your Normal Routine
Now just because we’re not commuting in crazy traffic and going into the office doesn’t mean we should skip our weekday routine. Try to maintain a normal sleep schedule (7 to 8 hours a night is ideal). Aim to go to bed at the same time everyday and wake up at your normal time. Poor sleep can increase hunger hormones and make it hard to maintain a normal eating pattern. 

Continue on with your normal morning routine by taking a shower, eating breakfast and getting dressed in real clothes (not staying in those pajamas)! It may sound minor, but this helps mentally prepare yourself for the day and get into a “work” mindset. Try to build a weekly schedule or just mapping out your day the night before. It’s super easy to lose track of time and if you can’t find that work-life balance at home, you may find yourself getting burned out quickly. It may take a week or month to get accumulated but don’t stress.

Create and Keep A Dedicated Work Space
It can be tempting to stay in bed or use the couch to set up a work space but you’re better off setting up a station. If you don’t have a desk, use a kitchen table or dining room table. This will make it feel more like an “office”, while helping to maintain good posture, avoid distractions and a place to leave your work projects. 

However…. Don’t Just Sit At That Work Space
We all know that sitting all day isn’t healthy for the body and the mind. Working from home means you may have fewer reasons to get up from your chair throughout the day. No more getting those extra steps in grabbing coffee or lunch with coworkers. Some of you may have a standing desk but if not make sure to stand up regularly to stretch or move around. Check out “Getting Movement In At Your Desk” to get inspired! 

Add Movement That Feels Good 
Maybe you’ve gained an extra hour or two from not commuting. This is the perfect opportunity to add any movement that feels good and works for your body. Talk a walk outside, do gentle yoga, workout at home or just dance around your living room with the kids or your pets! Movement and exercise releases endorphins, which has been shown to reduce anxiety, decrease inflammation and boost mental well-being.

Get Some Fresh Air
Did you know a lack of sunlight can affect us both mentally and physically? Sunlight resets our circadian clock everyday and syncs it with metabolic processes like hormone and enzyme production, along with digestion. Try to take short walks outside but remember to keep your distance (6 feet) but that doesn’t mean you can’t give your neighbor a friendly smile or a wave. 
Next best thing, if you can’t get outdoors make sure to open windows to let in as much natural light and fresh air as possible. 

Stay Connected With Your Teammates & Personal Community
Good thing we are all connected via text, email or video chats; however, it’s a good idea to set up regular check-ins with work. Create a to-do list to keep yourself organized and focused so your teammates can see the status on current projects. This also applies to keeping in touch with family and friends. It’s difficult when we are isolated at home but pick up that phone or video chat! Just by hearing a familiar voice or seeing a smile can turn your day around.

Try Not To Multitask Too Much
This may seem like the perfect time to catch up on chores and projects around the house but it can quickly get you distracted. There’s nothing wrong with taking multiple breaks during the day. No one should work at their computer for hours at a time; however, don’t let chores (laundry or dishes) distract you from being productive. This is when that daily schedule comes in handy but keep in mind it’s all about being flexible. 

With Kids, Prepare for Disruptions & Be Flexible
It’s difficult enough to be productive working at home but even harder when the kids are home. However, with a bit of planning ahead and some flexibility you can make it through the day! 

  • Get Help, If You Can - This might not be the best choice, as we are all social distancing at the moment but if you have someone that can help (a family member that can stay isolated with you), you’ll be able to get the most amount of work done. This is when your other half can relieve some stress! Take turns between watching kids and working. When it’s your turn working go in a separate room so your kids don’t see you.

  • Change Up Your Hours - If your job or team allows for it, try to work your routine around the kids sleep schedule. Create your weekday schedule by looking at the kids morning, afternoon and evening routines. This might not be ideal, but when it’s quiet you’ll be able to focus and get more accomplished.

  • Try New Activities - This is the perfect time to find fun toys and games that kids haven’t played so they will be preoccupied longer. Think about time consuming projects, like puzzles, books, legos, stickers or just arts and crafts. Play-Doh was my favorite as a child and I still find it very entertaining to this day!

Take Care Of YOU & Practice Self-Care
Being stuck at home can take a toll on our mental health. It’s so important to carve out time each day for yourself. This can be hard, especially if you live with roommates, a partner or kids. But each day challenge yourself to either exercise, meditate, listen to a podcast/music, cook a meal or video chat with a friend or family member. There is no better time than now to find that work-life balance. That can include leaving the house, getting out in nature or just soaking up sun. Disconnecting from work is an important step to feeling refreshed and motivated!

Maintain A Normal, Balanced Diet (Well, Most Of The Time)
So you may be wondering - What are the best foods to buy when you know you're going to be stuck at home? Is it even possible to enjoy a nutritious meal? You can make nutrition a priority, and it's especially important to keep that immune system functioning properly. Although it might look a little different than your normal diet, it's possible to eat healthy while stuck at home. Also, understand you’ll be shopping for foods that will last for an extended period of time “aka pantry staples”. 

That means selecting foods that pack a nutritional punch to ensure you’re getting all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber and macronutrients. Think about it this way…

KEEP IT SIMPLE: Complex Carbs, Protein, Fat & Fruits + Veggies. 

Keep a Well-Stocked Household
Some of you may have already planned out weeks worth of meals, but if you don’t have time to plan meals, a fully stocked pantry can relieve some stress when it comes time to make food. Keep the following on hand for quick and simple dishes.

Shelf-Stable Products

  • Dried or Canned Beans - When choosing canned items look for no added salt. However, if you can’t find them no added salt all you need to do is rinse your beans under running water. This removes some of the sodium. Make sure to keep on hand chickpeas, lentils, quinoa and don’t forget other bean-based canned foods like soups and stews. These foods provide our bodies with protein and fiber, along with health-promoting minerals, like magnesium and potassium!
  • Canned Veggies - Look for cans with no added salt for your everyday needs. Top picks are canned pumpkin, tomatoes, corn and olives.
  • Dried or Canned Fruit - Read the label and look for canned items in 100% fruit juice and no added sugar. Shop for applesauce, pineapple, apples, peaches or search for dried fruit without that sugar coating.
  • Grains & Grain Alternatives - Look for whole grain pasta, chickpea pasta, rice, quinoa, noodles, bread, crackers, cereals and flours to make any dish complete.Think about bean-based pastas (chickpea, lentil & black bean), which provide fiber and other nutrients. Plus, they’re great as a side or mixed in with other staple ingredients.
  • Pouches/Canned Fish - Canned tuna, salmon and sardines are all great options. They meet our dietary guidelines for 2 servings of seafood each week, plus are packed with Omega 3s. Try canned fish on top of salads or crackers, mixed with pasta, or make fish patties (eggs, bread and herbs).
  • Nuts, Seeds and Nut Butters - Pick up a variety, such as pistachios, sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts and almonds. You can use them to boost the nutrition of any dish.

Always have on hand olive oil, avocado oil or other oils, plus dried herbs and spices to add flavor without extra calories.

Frozen Foods

  • Veggies - There’s no limit here! Try frozen spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, riced cauliflower, butternut squash and brussel sprouts. Stock up since these should be filling half your plate, well most of the time!
  • Fruit - Load up on berries, bananas, mango and peaches, which are perfect for making smoothies or topping yogurt and oatmeal. In addition to fiber, these sweet treats contain phytonutrients, which play a key role in gut and immune boosting health.
  • Frozen Meals - For anyone who doesn’t cook or have the time take a walk down the freezer section! Grab pizza dough, pre-made pizza, burritos or microwavable meals. Just remember to read those labels as sodium can be very high on pre-made meals!
  • Seafood - Frozen fish is just as good as fresh fish. While fresh fish can only last about a week in the fridge, frozen fish can last 4 to 6 months in the freezer and still contain the same health benefits!
  • Poultry, Beef & Pork - Generally, frozen foods retain their vitamins and minerals as it’s flash frozen as quickly as possible. There is no change to the carbohydrate, protein or fat content and the product is freezer stable for years. If you love meat it’s the perfect time to stock up your freezer! (I always have packs of ground beef or bison to throw any meal together, like nachos, burrito bowls or pasta dishes).

This is your work-life balance survival guide to help you live your best life at home. Pick a few tips or ideas to add into your routine or do them all! Keep in mind adopting new habits may take some time to get used to. 

But the good news, we have a few weeks to consciously work on it. Who knows, maybe you’ll also learn some things about yourself in the process that you can carry with you when life returns to NORMAL! 

Are there any tips or tricks you’re practicing at home that you want to share with us?

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