Remote Work And Self-Care - How To Achieve A Healthy Work-Life Balance

Last updated on : May 05 2021

Remote working with kids

Remote Working - The Good And The Bad

Remote work was on the rise in the United States even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But, because of the pandemic, it skyrocketed almost immediately out of necessity. As of January 2021, 18% of adults in the U.S. worked remotely full-time. That’s over 4 million people. 

That can be a good thing, of course. Remote working has plenty of benefits. It tends to offer more flexibility, you can feel more comfortable and less pressured in your own home, and you can even cut down on things like transportation and food expenses. 

But, remote work has some potential drawbacks, too. Research has shown that some people who work remotely feel the need always to be “on.” 

If you think you need to be accessible 24/7 because of technology, then you’re not taking time for yourself. As a result, self-care practices have changed thanks to this shift in the workforce. 

How To Achieve A Healthy Remote Work Life Balance

So, how has self-care changed? What’s different about self-care now that more people are working from home? More importantly, how can you make sure you’re taking care of yourself if you’re spending your days working remotely and trying to strike a healthy work-life balance?

1. Changes In Routine

One of the most significant differences you might face when working from home is changing your daily routine. When you operate a “typical” job, you get used to waking up at the same time each day.

Maybe your morning routine consisted of working out and having a healthy breakfast. Perhaps it was a time for you to sip coffee and watch the news. 

Whatever your routine used to be, think about how it’s changed since you’ve started working from home. Do you still have one? 

Having a daily routine has several mental health benefits, including: 

● Lower stress levels

● Better daily habits

● A boost in motivation

● Better overall health

Having a routine can also help you to develop better sleep habits and get more rest. Many people are feeling fatigued and tired while working from home. You might be staring at a screen longer than usual, relying on caffeine to stay awake for longer hours, and trying to fight off feelings of depression or anxiety. 

Not getting enough sleep can have lasting adverse health effects. When your circadian rhythms get thrown off, it can cause problems for your organs, your cardiovascular system and can even make you more susceptible to diabetes and mental health conditions. If you’re having trouble sleeping, no matter what, talk to your doctor about what might be going on. 

If you know your routine has been off since you started working remotely, begin to build it up again. Go to sleep at the same time each night, and wake up at the same time every morning. Even by having a little bit of structure, you can improve your sleep health, mental health, and daily habits. 

It’s a good idea to get your entire family on a schedule, if possible. Things might look different right now if everyone is spending their days at home, but your partner and your kids will benefit just as much from having a routine. 

2. Family/Parenting Stress

Your family dynamic may have shifted due to the pandemic. Most schools across the country opted for virtual learning, meaning kids had to stay home all day. If you’re working remotely, that automatically changes things. If you’re married or live with a partner who is also working from home, the dynamic changes even more. 

Practicing self-care as a parent isn’t easy under any circumstances, but when your family is constantly around you, it becomes even more difficult. It might be tempting to let your kids watch TV or play on their phones all day, but that’s not going to benefit anyone. 

Instead, the best thing you can do is space out your time. That goes back to the importance of having a routine. You should have time set aside for work, family, and school.

Think about specific ways to spend time with your family if the organic moments aren’t coming as often, such as days hiking with the kids or celebrating special anniversaries with budget-friendly dates with your partner. 

If you don’t set aside time and stick to a schedule, work and school could start to take over every moment. That puts your whole family at risk of burning out.  

Make sure you have a separate space in your home where you can work and another for relaxing. Having a designated office space and letting your family know you’re “unavailable” during working hours will allow you to get things done faster. As a result, you’ll have more time in the evening to relax, spend quality time with your family, and unwind from the day.

It’s essential to keep your kids in mind, too. Chances are, they’re stressed about everything from the virus to not being able to spend time with friends or be involved in their everyday activities. It’s understandable to be worried about them. But, if you worry without taking action, you’re only going to increase your stress levels.  

Use the time to talk to your kids and assure them that you’ll get through this together.  

3. Self-Image Issues

You might think that body image issues have fallen away during COVID-19 since people stayed at home more. Unfortunately, it seems as though the pandemic has created the opposite effect on how people see themselves. 

One study found that the stress and anxiety caused by COVID could be contributing to body image issues and impacting our sense of self-worth.

There are several possible reasons for this. 

The most common theory is that spending so much time at home has allowed people to consume more media, which increases exposure to certain ideals. You might think you look nothing like your favorite celebrity or athlete.  

Thanks to feelings of depression and anxiety, healthy coping mechanisms may have seen a decrease, too. Instead, some have turned to food for comfort, while others haven’t been able to find the motivation to stay active

While you may not have seen many people in person, Zoom meetings have become incredibly prevalent over the last year. Unfortunately, so has something called Zoom Dysmorphia

Zoom is excellent for adding visuals to long-distance communication. It can help you feel more engaged in meetings and offer an “in-person” atmosphere from the comfort of your own home — but that gives you a lot of time to look at yourself on a screen, especially if you’re in meetings all day. You might start to overanalyze yourself or compare yourself to others on the screen without saying a word. 

Zoom Dysmorphia has become an increasing problem for people who might not like what they see. It can be a big blow to your self-esteem and how you see yourself. That can spiral into an even more significant lack of self-care and more substantial bouts of depression where you don’t take care of yourself as you should. 

It’s a vicious cycle that can be hard to stop once it gets going. So, it’s essential to recognize that issues like Zoom Dysmorphia are real. The more aware you are, the less likely you’ll be to fall into that state of mind. 

Thankfully, now that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, more Americans are trying to lose the weight they gained during COVID. That doesn’t mean you need to join a gym tomorrow, but finding healthy ways to cope and take action against the body image issues you’re facing can help allow you to feel like yourself again. 

It can also help instill a sense of normalcy, which can reduce your stress levels, boost your energy, and make you more motivated to take care of yourself

How to Practice Self-Care at Home

Girl stretching in bed

Practicing self-care at home starts with making time for it. Self-care needs to be a daily priority, not just something you do whenever you find the time. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant or expensive. It also doesn’t have to fit a particular stereotype or check certain boxes. 

In the end, self-care is about taking care of your needs. So, consider what would make you feel best, not someone else.  

If you’re stumped for ideas, consider some of these to inspire you: 

● Practice mindfulness each day

● Listen to your favorite music

● Take multiple breaks throughout the day

● Get outside

● Stay active

● Eat healthily

● Find a new hobby

Don’t let remote work cause you excess stress. Think about all of the advantages and benefits of working from home, rather than the stress it can cause. 

Conclusion

It’s important to know that remote working isn’t for everyone. Some people thrive in a more structured environment that requires them to go somewhere. If you find that you’re one of those people, don’t feel “forced” to work remotely. Talk with your employer about other options that will allow you to be your best. 

But, if you’re working from home and want it to stick, you have to focus on taking care of yourself as much as concentrate on your job. The last thing you want is to feel overwhelmed or burnt out because you can’t strike a balance between work life and home life. 

Keep these changes in mind as you work remotely because it appears that remote lifestyles are here to stay. The more you’re aware of balancing your work and life through self-care practices, the easier it will be to make healthy choices for yourself to turn those statistics around.

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