Five Tips On How To Survive Working From Home This Festive Season
Here we are. December has arrived out of nowhere and what would normally be a season of office Christmas parties and social get togethers looks very different in 2020.
Despite our uncertainty about what this festive season will actually feel like and despite all of those mince pies piling up in our kitchens, we are still required to be focused and productive while working from home.
While you might feel a bit isolated or overwhelmed with your work-from-home situation these days, know that you’re not alone. I’ve been working from home for nearly five years now, juggling daytime jobs, side hustles, studies, a baby, home workouts and somehow squeezing in some me-time.
So I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you cover the last sprint before you can finally leave 2020 behind. And to help you look good and feel good in January.
1. Make Yourself A Priority
If you had to write a list of all the different hats you’re wearing every day, how long would that list be? Employee, entrepreneur, student, partner, parent (to pets or kids), friend, home manager, neighbour, cleaner,… No wonder you’re exhausted!
So, here’s a question for you: If you could wave a magic wand, would you want things to be different? Would you want to find time in amongst all of those roles to just be yourself and do what brings you joy? No ‘yes, buts’ and ‘what ifs’. Just a yes or no.
Change is a choice, my friend. You may not be able to change everything and have it just the way you want it, but you have to start somewhere. The job now is to make a choice as to whether you are prepared to keep going as you are. Or whether you will commit to change.
If you don’t want to make changes, that’s OK, but you are then stuck in reactive mode. If you want to feel in control and move more quickly to the light at the end of the never-ending tunnel of work-life overwhelm at home, choose change.
What will you change? You can’t do everything at once but often there is something that is a tipping point. Change that ONE thing and other things will begin to align. For many of my clients, that tipping point is usually meal planning or sleep. Simply focussing all your efforts in that one area has an effect on your entire life.
If those ideas seem too big of a commitment, start by taking some time out for yourself every day. Ideally first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Even if it’s just 5 minutes of something just for your own enjoyment. Self-care is the recognition that only YOU can make yourself happy and that, if you make sure that you dedicate some time EVERY DAY purely for yourself, you will have more fun, you will be more fun to be around, and you will have far greater reserves to deal with the stresses of your work-life at home.
This is a direct order from someone who’s been there. Self-care is not selfish. In fact, you looking after yourself is essential for your own physical and mental wellbeing as well as that of the people closest to you. Because it will make you better at every one of those roles you’re currently covering.
At the same time, it’s also worth thinking about how you reward yourself. That might be for just getting through the day sometimes, or it might be for a week of completing your to-do lists. Typically, we tend to go to chocolate or wine to fulfil this role. It’s not that either of these is bad for you as such, but if you’re not happy with your energy levels or weight, choose non food-related rewards like a nice movie, a home spa-moment (face-mask & bubble bath) or a long walk with an inspiring podcast in your ear.
2. Don’t Try To Diet Over The Festive Period
Or ever for that matter, if you ask me. Set a maintenance goal instead. Or think about how you want to feel. This is more realistic and much more achievable. It will give you the freedom to enjoy yourself without the feelings of deprivation or the pressure to rebel...!
You can still follow the basic guidelines of a healthy eating:
Eat protein (beans, nuts, seeds, fish, tofu, meat) at every meal and snack.
Pack in as much veg as you can.
Be careful with starchy carbs (potatoes, rice, pasta and couscous) – these kill your energy.
You can also still use meal prep and shopping to your advantage. Our normal routine tends to go out of the window throughout the festive season. However, make sure you don’t forget about yourself and still take the time to plan your food.
That way, you will still have the right choices in the house, and it will be much easier for you to succeed. At a point where we don’t want to eat the wrong things it is a shame to fail just because that is all we have to hand. This is so easy to avoid just by giving it a few minutes thought and preparation.
I would even say this this is ESSENTIAL when you are really busy. There’s nothing worse when you are breaking your neck to work your way through your full to-do list than to realise it’s 3pm, you’re stuck in zoom calls and have nothing to snack on than some random stale crisps you find under your desk.
Imagine how much stress you can save yourself by using regular meals (that you either already prepared or at least planned and shopped for) as anchor points for structured work breaks throughout the day.
3. Be A Mindful Drinker
Making good alcohol choices is a great way to protect your mental wellbeing while working from home. Avoid creamy or sweet drinks. Try to drink with food as this will reduce the impact of the sugars on your blood stream. Good drinks to have are gin or red wine. As for moderation - I want you to have fun, everything is hard enough at the moment. But if you can aim to have more alcohol-free days per week than days where you do drink and aim stay within the overall limit of 14 units (i.e. 1.5 bottles of wine) per week, your body will thank you.
But also, be kind to yourself. If you do happen to overindulge, do enjoy whatever you are indulging in and get back on track afterwards.
I feel like a broken record talking about how important drinking plenty of water is. But it just really is. It will encourage you not to overeat and keep you sharp and focused throughout the day. And if you did have a couple more drinks than intended the night before it will also improve how you feel the next day!
4. Make The Effort To Keep Moving
If your usual classes aren’t running, choose other options instead e.g. brisk walks or online classes. Try to get out in the fresh air for a morning walk - it’s a great way to start your work-from-home day and de-stress before you’ve even opened your inbox.
If you’re living with other people, bring everyone along on your movement journey. This will give you some quality time together and you can mix it up to meet everyone’s preferences. Dance-off in the kitchen anyone? Why not try something completely new that neither of you has ever tried before. Have fun!
5. Plan Everything The Way You Want It To Be - Including Fun!
It might be that not everything you plan actually comes to fruition. Such is life. But unless you actually have a plan, whether you achieve what you want is completely left to chance. You know what they say; a goal without a plan is a wish. And you can probably do better than that!
When I’m working with busy folks like you, planning is THE thing. That means planning not only your meals but also when you will exercise, when you will do those ‘life admin’ jobs and when you will take time out for yourself to relax and recharge your batteries.
And planning your day does not mean you will lead a grey and boring life. On the contrary. It will take away those daily micro stressors and give you back the head space and energy to actually have some fun. Yes, even on a work-from-home day in December 2020.
I’m sure you’ve heard before that if you do what you always do, you’ll get what you’ve always got. This is, of course, true. Where will you begin? What will you do differently? What is the tipping point for you that, if you change that ONE thing, you start to gain some traction in your life?
If you’ve been struggling to make the changes yourself, it’s likely not because you don’t know what to do but that – on your own – you struggle to make your own health a priority or that you are a great starter but need someone to hold you accountable for making changes. There’s nothing wrong with you not being able to take action on your own. People generally don’t.
Look for an accountability partner who is trying to achieve something similar, maybe a friend or a neighbour. If you can’t think of anyone you know I’m always here to help you actually make the changes in your life. Just reach out.