14 ways I stress less while working from home

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

Oh boy, last I counted, I spend at least 10 hours on the screen every day working from home now, and that includes working on weekends.

I mean, what else can I do besides brave this “storm” and be adequately prepared for when it’s over?

It’s no wonder we are experiencing unprecedented levels of stress and myopic levels, being driven insane from staying indoors and working until our brains are fried.

I attribute my sanity and work enthusiasm to the below ways which save me from going crazy and burnt out.

It helps that as an entrepreneur, our minds are constantly wired to want to learn new things to improve your business(es). We have the natural inclination to want to succeed as a business owner!

Regardless of whether you’re an employee or an employer, it’s still important to pay attention to our body and wellness, something I really advocate when it comes to work-life balance.

Here are some ways I’ve started incorporating in my “work from home” routine, that I hope will help you stress less when you’re stuck at home too.

1. Tea

 

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

I consider myself blessed, for I grow up in an environment where tea is as common as water in the household.

Every morning, without fail, there’ll be a flask of freshly brewed tea to start and sustain my day. It’s light and easy to drink, not to mention healthy too.

Establishing a good morning routine sets the tone for the rest of your day, so set a morning routine that starts you right, whether it be making a cup of coffee, stretching, meditating for five minutes or catching the sunrise. 

2. Lists

When it comes to work, I CANNOT do without my checklists.

Without lists, my mind will be all over the place. I wouldn’t have any direction and my priorities would be all over the place. There are two important reasons for having lists:

  1. Once you write it down, it frees up your mental capacity for other things. You don’t have to constantly worry about forgetting important tasks once you dump it all on a list.
  2. Having it written down, at least you have an inventory of everything that needs to be done. From there, you’ll be able to manage your tasks more efficiently.

If you feel overwhelmed by your tasks, here’s a handy lesson to prioritize them.

Ever since I read the 7 Steps of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, I’ve learned the Eisenhower Matrix which helps me prioritise the list of things to do FIRST, while not forgetting the things that I have to do EVENTUALLY.

You simply have to classify your tasks into one of these four quadrants and then set about doing those that are URGENT and IMPORTANT right away.

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

I could go more in detail, but time management is a whole big topic on its own. Set daily tasks and deadlines, so you don’t put it off forever.

3. Take frequent breaks

I’ll admit, I don’t take as frequent breaks as I preach. Sometimes I just get so absorbed with what I do, the whole world just fades away!

That said, just like how a battery can’t be expended 24/7, it is important for your brain to recharge.

The easiest, shortest way to do that is by taking a mini break outside of work. Refill your cup, do the dishes, stare out of your window – anything that gets your mind out of work for a moment.

Sometimes, all we need is a power nap. Don’t negate the power of a 20-minute nap. Studies have shown it can do wonders for your productivity.

4. Slow down

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In the day, if I’m not by my laptop, I’m always fiddling with something to keep me busy and productive.

I’ll either be listening to a podcast while getting my hands busy (in the kitchen or chores) or watching a webinar at lunch.

That’s why I have to schedule in time each day to slow down and stop whatever I am doing and do something relaxing.

This is something especially important as a creative too, for otherwise we will all suffer from the “writer’s block” phenomenon and hate our work instead.

For me, that means reading a book before I sleep. Or doing yoga. Or taking a walk by the park.

5. Take time for yourself

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

We get so caught up in the throes of work/ life responsibilities of trudging through deliverable by our clients, of putting food on the table, of making sure the house is neat and tidy, of keeping the sanity of our family members in check, that at the end of the day, we forget about ourselves.

To keep our own sanity and well-being in check, we need to remember ourselves!

Take time to go back to our roots, and care for our mind and body. I describe some ways to do that below.

6. Journal

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Journaling is a form of self-reflection I find very helpful in helping me navigate my life.

I ask myself life questions that help me project where I want to be, while making sure I stay true to my values and happiness. I’m able to set goals and a road map to help me achieve it.

Taking time to ask yourself questions about what you truly want can sometimes help you take stock of your current situation, or realize you’ve been steering in the wrong direction.

That’s okay. We grow and our life priorities shift. It’s never too late to course correct.

What matters is knowing what you truly value and place importance in. Let your inner compass guide you towards a life of fulfilment and happiness.

If you find it hard to pause and write, maybe investing in a pretty notebook like these ones will help?

I found bullet journaling a great way to design and spice my notebook up, thus making it more fun to write!

7. Get into nature

We’ve seen numerous studies about how being in nature reduces anger, fear, stress, lowers your blood pressure, helps you slow down, relax and increases pleasant feelings.

Enough said.

8. Workout

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

Have you ever experienced days where you simply not feel like doing anything, you can’t muster the energy to complete a single task, you get distracted every 1 minute, or you don’t have the willpower to stop snacking?

Getting out of your head, away from your work and into the outdoors solves that.

These days, it seems that going out for a run is my only salvation for an excuse away from work and being in nature, both of which I need to maintain my sanity.

When I run, my thoughts and stress don’t ricochet in my mind doing cartwheels. I simply focus on my breathing, my boundless energy (it’s a state of mind) and the thumping of my steps.

Sunshine is to a flower like exercise is to us. Staying indoors, sitting by our desks on our screens for endless hours do no good to our minds and bodies.

Getting exercise in is crucial for helping me to focus on my work when I eventually get back at it.

9. Yoga/ meditate

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

Yoga, to me is a form of meditation . While I can’t stay still enough to meditate, I enjoy doing yoga as it still keeps me moving and helps me focus on my movements instead.

It helps me be aware of my breathing (how often do you notice yourself breathing?), bring awareness to my body and slow down my mind.

Similar to getting out for a run, I can take a break off work both mentally and physically and focus on what I’ve been neglecting – my body.

Through a series of stretches, poses and inversions, I’m able to find some semblance of balance back in my body and mind.

It sort of acts as a reset button, where I don’t just mindlessly go through my everyday workings, but rather, I pause and untangle the knots and tightness in my body and my mind.

It’s like a breath of fresh, mountainous air after being stuck in a cave for too long – that’s exactly what it feels like.

10. Put yourself in a new environment

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

Much like going outdoors or doing something different, putting yourself in a new environment is like giving yourself a new stimulus.

For those of us in the creative industry, we all get writer’s block and become so accustomed to our own way of doing things that we are blind to new, novel ways and ideas of doing things.

That’s why we need to constantly expose ourselves to new stimulus! It may help generate new ideas for your work.

I know, most of us are confined to our homes, but who’s to say we can’t do something different from our daily routine?

It could be reading or watching something new, or if you can, discovering a new trail by your neighbourhood.

11. Get a consistent sleep schedule

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More than having an optimal seven hours of sleep, it’s also important to have a consistent sleep schedule.

Do you know why you always experience Monday blues?

Similar to feeling jet lag, when we sleep in on weekends and have to wake up early again on Mondays, the weariness we feel on Mondays is the body trying to adapt back to an early routine.

Having a consistent sleep schedule helps your body maintain the timing of your body’s internal clock, thus allowing you to fall asleep and wake up with less effort.

If you have difficulty sleeping, try some of these pre-sleep routines:

  • Get off digital screens one hour before bed time
  • Read a book
  • Avoid caffeine or other sleep-disrupting chemicals
  • Avoid rigorous/ agitating activities like exercise or an action-packed movie
  • Meditate/ take deep breaths
  • Dim the lights in your room

12. Get off social media

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

I’m mindful about the 10 hours of screen time I spend daily, so I try to minimise the use of my phone as much as possible, and the first thing that goes is social media.

Listening to myself meant knowing that as much as social provides entertainment for me, I cannot stop myself from comparing my life with said others.

There are always things to lament about, and the grass always seems greener on the other side.

It’s during these periods where I have to stop myself from comparing and remind myself – I have a job I love and allows me to travel!

I have a family who’ll always, always be there for me. I have a roof over my head. I haven’t lost my sight or lost my ability to run.

I’m still young and there’s plenty of opportunities and potential for my business and I to grow once this is all over.

13. Gain perspective by talking to friends

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Isolation doesn’t mean social isolation! It’s always nice to have a listening ear, advice from someone more objective or simply to share your woes!

Whether it is picking out an outfit online or discussing new travel or workout ideas, you can talk about some social discussion is good for your mind!

You can even partner up to be each other’s accountability buddies so that when you or they slip up, you have one another to push each other on!

I’ve started doing workouts virtually over the phone and sharing music I like. What’s stopping you?

14. Escape to your happy place

PHOTO: Isabel Leong

Some people like to bake, others like to draw, paint, listen to music or drink wine. What’s your happy place?

Not all of these suggestions may work for you. Take stock of those that you relate to and try to incorporate a couple of them into your daily lives, TODAY. You’ll realize what a huge difference it makes.

This article was first published in Bel Around the World.