By Ariah Zwolinkski, Workforce Connection Center Specialist, Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin
“Self-care” and “stress relief” are two buzzwords that have increased in prominence with the recent stay-at-home orders. Whether someone is selling you a product or sharing an inspirational quote, everyone has their opinion about what you should do to make your days as productive and stress-free as possible.
While not all advice is created equal, I’ve compiled my list of the top five stress relief techniques that can easily be incorporated into your daily work from home routine.
1) Deep Breathing
You’ve probably heard this one a million times, but have you ever tried it? There are so many occasions that can benefit from taking a few deep breaths. It’s a great technique to use when you’re in a frustrating work meeting and need to cool down before you respond, or in bed trying to fall asleep. No tools or equipment required.
Sit in a comfortable spot — that may mean on the edge of a bed or in a chair where your feet meet the ground. You can close your eyes if you’re comfortable, and relax your hands and arms to your side. Take a deep breath; inhale through your nose for five counts, and exhale through your mouth for five counts.
Working from home means no trips to see your work bestie for a chat or to ask your boss about a project — and that means less activity. Everything you need is nearby, so why budge from your comfy office chair (or couch)? But moving around — even to grab a coffee or use the restroom — is a great opportunity to disconnect while getting the blood pumping.
Set an alarm to get up and move around during the day. Depending on the length of your break and where you are located, take a walk outside. If you can, try to leave your phone and headphones at home and enjoy the sounds of nature as you wake up your body.
3) Yoga Poses
As a yoga instructor, I understand that it isn’t for everyone, but yoga isn’t just about meditation. There are a few poses that, when practiced regularly, can help with stress levels. A Google search can bring up more of the benefits of doing a small sequence of yoga poses during your break, as you wake up or before you go to bed.
For the legs-up-the-wall pose, find a wall free of frames or other decorations. Lie down on your back, getting your bottom as close to the wall as possible (as if you were sitting with your legs extended on the floor). Stretch your legs up the wall and point your toes if it feels comfortable. Extend your arms to your sides, close your eyes and practice a few of those deep breaths.
4) Create Healthy and Comfortable Boundaries
At first, the idea of working from home probably sounded like a great idea — easy access to food, getting some laundry done during meetings and a fluffy companion to keep you company — but the reality of trying to be productive in both work and home activities can get overwhelming. Add to that a partner or children trying to set up shop at home too, and it’s a recipe for stress.
Set up a spot in the house that is for work only. If you can, avoid sitting in bed, on the couch or in a common area. By creating space only for work, we can teach our brains to leave work behind like we would if we were in the office heading home for the night. In addition, creating a designated workspace allows for housemates to understand when you’re “at work” and should not be disturbed.
Part of setting up your space is making sure that you find a method of organization. In the office, I know exactly where my materials are, how I start my day and shut down for the night. Working at home, that’s all gone. So, adapting to my new surroundings and finding a new way to process my tasks and be productive was important.
When considering a work from home organization style, think of what you would normally do in the office. Do you have certain tasks you complete first in the office? What tools do you have near you on a regular basis? I used a paper planner to narrow down tasks and keep notes together, also utilizing an electronic calendar to keep track of work meetings, webinars and other team related tasks.
Stress relief is different for everyone — no two people need the same self-care or release. The best way to find out what’s right for you is to simply try things out… then stick with what works. And don’t be afraid to mix things up so your self-care doesn’t become a chore.