Working from home has been one of the most striking changes in our lifestyle since 2020 came along and shifted the order of our lives. Remote work careers have still, however, been a rising trend for the last five to ten years. Being at home has numerous advantages over being at the traditional office. Stress, however, follows work wherever it goes.
The first and most important step in managing home office stress is creating a boundary between your office life and your home life. Some have the advantage of that boundary being a physical office space. If so, it is important to only approach that space when ready to work, and to leave work in that space and close the door when you are through. If you do not have the physical space to set aside for an office, don’t worry, work/life boundaries can be created through ritual.
The body reacts favorably to rhythmic practices. I recommend developing a before and after work rhythm that is simple, pleasant, and easy to observe. For instance, you could begin and end your home office work day with a short breathing practice. I myself try to consciously breathe deeply and productively two or three times between meetings or patient consultations. It brings me fully into the moment and mindfully delivers me into the next segment of my work. You could end the work day by lighting a soothing candle, turning off a desk lamp, doing some simple stretches, playing an end of the work day song. You will feel the benefit, I promise. Once the work day ends, keep that boundary in place and the promise to yourself to switch gears.
As for the day to day stress we all experience, now perhaps more than ever, I recommend simple daily acts of kindness to yourself. Add a practice like facial gua sha to your morning, or a line up an episode of a favorite podcast to look forward to at your lunch time. If you are feeling truly overwhelmed and can get a moment to yourself try the following practice: place your hand over your own heart or hold your left wrist gently in your right hand and ask yourself as you would ask a dear friend “how are you right now?” Try to bring your awareness into your body and really listen for the answer. Then give yourself one simple statement of encouragement such as, “you are brave and I know you can do this,” and apply gentle pressure, like a gentle pat. over your heart or a squeeze on that wrist. This shouldn’t take longer than five minutes. It can be more profoundly effective than you think. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are on our own team.
There are numerous ways that a meeting with a certified Chinese herbalist can benefit your home office life. Problematic digestion, stress related immune suppression and work-related chronic issues like migraines, muscle spasm and fatigue can be addressed in a truly individual way with herbal preparations. These can be prescribed in person, or via telehealth remote session and delivered to you. Feeling balanced, rested and full of energy is an asset to any career. Home offices can actually make it much easier to stay health conscious, to drink enough water, keep healthy food handy, and feel connected to those you love. Make sure that your work environment contains elements that are pleasing to your senses. Work where you can see nature. Have a super soft sweater or slippers that are only for work. Treat yourself to a plant, or a small vase of flowers. Place a photo that lights up your heart where you can always see it. Use a diffuser with an inspiring essential oil blend. Because you are at home you can create the rules, so make this office or work space your own. Keeping all of your senses awake and delighted in small and meaningful ways throughout the day will make you feel cared for and work might begin to feel more personalized and manageable.
Lastly, remember to move. Set a timer if you need to! Get up, do some gentle stretches, focus your eyes away from screens and walk around. Step outside for a moment if you can. If you can’t go far, just bounce a little in place. Your fascia likes to bounce around and your muscles and nerves like to remember they are alive. You will feel much more awake and able to concentrate when you sit back down. I know, with all of this bouncing around, deep breathing and talking to yourself it’s a good thing your office is at home! But for real, our bodies need our friendship in order to perform well under pressure. Let’s get that friendship back on track. You might even love each other!