I am still working at home. And I am still allowing work to take over far more of my “home” hours than it really should. Some days are just busier than others, but other days I continue doing work-related tasks simply because I am not doing a great job of separating “home” and “work.”
However, I’m finding that one of the great advantages of working from home is having the opportunity to take breaks throughout the day on my timetable, rather than on someone else’s schedule.
Here are some ways to destress throughout the day and take breaks from work.
1 – Get up 30 minutes earlier. Having a few extra minutes in the Morning to enjoy some coffee or tea and the peace and quiet of the morning helps me get the day started in the best possible way. This is totally YOUR time. Now, what to do with that 30 minutes? Read on!
2 – Create a soothing morning routine that is free of work, email, technology, and TV news. If you want more details on creating your own morning routine, read my post HERE.
I’ve created a list of some books that are also helpful for planning the best morning routine for yourself.
If you want to start with some very simple morning routine habits, try some or all of these:
*turn off the alarm (don’t hit snooze)
*do some stretches, either in bed or out of bed
*make your bed! (This does two things: it keeps you from crawling back in and it automatically starts your day with a “win”, something you have done to make your environment a little more orderly)
*drink a glass of water
*do a morning meditation with Calm or Headspace, have some prayer time/devotional time, or just sit in silence for a few minutes (or all three)
*do a very simple morning workout – 5 minutes of yoga, simple calisthenics (squats, pushups, crunches, jumping jacks), or plank pose for one minute. (This isn’t your whole workout — just a way to wake up and get going!)
*enjoy a cup of coffee or tea
*make your to-do list for the day
3 – Work on a project during that 30 minutes that is just for you. Even if it’s work-related, do something that YOU want to do.
For example, I am a new brand affiliate for the online gift boutique Tate & Zoey. I have training videos to watch, notes to take, and tasks to complete. Some people might describe that as “work” but since it is so different from my “day job”, I find it exciting since it is totally different from teaching and planning. (If you want to learn more about Tate & Zoey, click HERE.
4 – Set small goals for the day. Here are some examples:
*Make your bed, empty the dishwasher, do any morning chores that create an orderly environment around you
*Check your bank statement online
*Drink 8 glasses of water by 5 p.m.
*Weigh yourself & record your weight daily
*Write a letter, call or text someone to let them know you’re thinking of them
*Make your dinner decision by 10 a.m.
5 – Create the best home working environment you can create for yourself, even if it’s just a corner of a room or your kitchen table. See more tips for setting up the best working environment HERE.
6 – Defer, delegate, or delete some chores or tasks altogether. Does this really even need to be done?
If so, can someone else do it? Can it be done later because it’s not really all that important right now? Can it just be deleted from your list?
7 – Take workout breaks throughout the day.
Years ago, I read an article about Herschel Walker, who was a running back for the University of Georgia and several NFL teams, as well as the 1982 Heisman Trophy winner. The article talked about how he did not do any formal weight training, but that he interspersed calisthenics throughout the day. According to this article, he does 750-1500 pushups, 3000 situps, 1500 pullups, 1000 dips, and 1000 squats every day!
I’m not saying we need to do what Herschel Walker does, but I do think he’s onto something by interspersing movement breaks throughout the day.
See my 5- minute habits post HERE with some links to some brief workout routines. Or just make up your own movement breaks!
How often should you take a workout break? I try to take some kind of break after 25 minutes of work but do whatever works for you.
8 – Get outside. Take a walk, sit on a porch or a deck, or take your work outside! Somehow the change of scenery, the fresh air, and the views of nature gives me more energy and a more positive outlook.
9 – Take a real break for lunch. One of the positive “side effects” of working from home is the opportunity to get more of a lunch break than I would if I were at school. Step away from the computer and eat your lunch in a different environment than your work environment. Get outside if you can! If you want something to do while you’re eating, try reading something unrelated to work or listening to a podcast.
10 – Listen to music. Choose a playlist like “Focus Now” or “Instrumental Study” on Spotify and play it in the background while you are working.
11 – As part of the workout breaks in tip #7, try doing some yoga poses throughout the day to destress. Some of my favorites are:
~legs up the wall
~standing forward bend
This site gives simple directions for how to do various poses.
12 – Talk to someone via phone, FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Meet every day. Check on friends and family members, call a work friend to catch up, schedule a Zoom or Google Meet dinner party or happy hour. Connecting with others is so important for preventing feelings of isolation right now.
13 – Give yourself a “stop time” and stick to it. It’s so easy right now to just finish up “one more thing.” If you are truly about to finish something, then go right ahead. But try to set some boundaries around the work-related tasks and don’t let them take over the rest of your life. (Preaching to myself here.)
14 – Create some kind of “end of workday” ritual. It might be doing a longer workout, walking your dog, taking a bath or shower, and changing clothes (for me that means changing out of one pair of comfy pants into another pair of comfy pants!), getting outside with your kids or by yourself. Plan something that signifies that you are done with work for today.
15 – As part of your “end of workday” ritual, consider taking 10 minutes to write about three things that went well during your day. This article explains how such a simple practice reduced stress levels and physical complaints in people. It’s worth a try!
There you have it – 15 ways to slow down, take breaks, and reduce stress while working from home. Please share your tips and what works for you!
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