Remember when it was March and we all thought that we’d be doing this for just a few months? Eight months later, the days blend together and weeks fly by before you know it. Usually around the holidays, I have a few things in place that get me ready for the wind down season. I see my work start to dwindle. That hasn’t happened yet. I start a packing list preparing myself to retreat back to Seattle. The fridge and the pantry start to empty out as I take into account what needs to be finished. This year, there’s none of that. I’m currently on an endless work marathon and for someone who hasn’t done this much WFH in her life, I’ve learned a lot from this experience. Experiencing burn out is likely in these instances and in a year like ours. Here are a few things I’ve done for myself that have helped because the end isn’t near and we’ve got a long way to go!
I’m still practicing that trick that I shared with y’all some time ago – every time I leave a room for another, something comes with me. Often times, that thing goes into the trash, but regardless a little goes a long way. On the rare occasion that a call or a meeting finishes up early, this is the perfect time for me to bring my meal dish out to the kitchen, or pick up in my work/living space. Having a mess is something that brings added stress and the clearer the space, the clearer the mind.
Light a Candle
Since I started using candles more regularly, I always have plenty of new ones stocked. When one finishes, another one is right behind it. Always on hand is a case of tea light candles in a 100-pack in case I don’t have a fancy one ready. Like flowers, candles bring warmth to a room for me. Whether it’s the scent or an extra bit of light, it is instantly calming. More often they are lit in the evenings, but I switch off using them in the mornings and afternoons as well.
Water Your Plants
The sight of a wilting plant is the worst. This is another quick task that I can do in between my meetings. Though not a plant, I recently decided to re-grow my green onions and got so much satisfaction out of that! They were living in my kitchen and every time I passed by, it seemed like they had made a lot of progress within a few days. With my plants, I need to have more patience, but knowing that I’m taking care of something “living” in my home is a satisfying de-stressor.
There are days where I will sit in the same spot and watch the sun come down on my work day. It’s a goal to make it out of the house every day in some form, but sometimes we can’t make it happen. On the off chance that I have 45 minutes or an hour to take a break, sometimes I will squeeze in a quick workout. There are plenty of Instagram accounts whether it is [joja] or [Revolve] that have short workouts on their IGTV perfect for these breaks and then allow me to slide back into work again.
Take A Photo
During the work day, my focus is 100% on my day job. There isn’t time for me to think about Yow Yow! or content. Sometimes I feel resentful of that – that I can’t do it all or balance both. However, one thing that I can do is plan for a quick shoot in the middle of the day when I have a few minutes. Even while I’m working, taking a quick photo or sharing a moment is content that can be saved for later. While it’s a small action, it moves the needle just a little bit!
Turn Off Your Phone
Technically, I can’t do this most days! More recently with the election, I was getting so many notifications, pings, and texts from random numbers. The amount of notifications I was receiving was at an all time high. Between receiving these on my phone and from my laptop, I felt like I couldn’t get away from the noise. Every notification that is actually important though will go to my laptop. For a period of a couple of hours last week, I shut off my phone. When I was in the office, I could hide it in my desk. At home, I leave it in another room. Free from notifications about Postmates’ evening deals and tweets that I could catch up on later made a huge difference. In this day and age, we can’t disconnect completely, but we can limit.
Turn On Some Music
Growing up, we always had the TV on in our house. It became so normalized that I carried that into everywhere that I lived. I don’t have a preference when it comes to light noise or silence, but as I have gotten older, I’ve discovered that I’m partial to music, particularly with more soothing sounds. When I think of my TV, I am reminded of how chaotic conversations can be. Off the top of my head, I’m thinking of recent debates from the election that brought me an immense amount of stress that I didn’t think was possible. Music, lyrics, sounds – these are less harsh on an individual.
Granted, we can’t do this every night, but at least a few times a week, I like to make sure that I have time set aside to make a meal. These are the times when I close my laptop for several hours and I focus on constructing a meal that I’ve looked forward to in the week. It’s de-stressing in the sense that it focuses my attention elsewhere. I’m given a break from work mentally. It also gives my hands something else to do. Lastly, you’re nourishing yourself. Many times when we feel stress, we are dehydrated, fatigued, or just plain hungry. In moments of stress, it’s often why we forget to eat, but this isn’t an area we can skimp.
This isn’t the year we intended to have and 2020 will continue to challenge us until the very end of it. I hope these tips are useful, but I know at the end of the day, we all have personal things as well that help us recoup and it’s not a one size fits all!