If you're social distancing and staying at home, give yourself some credit. You are literally saving lives by staying inside your house. But, as important as staying home is, it's definitely not easy for many of us.
Here are a few tips to help you stay sane (especially if you're cooped up with your kids).
Demarcate your personal space!
We all need our own space. Now that you're cooped up, your house may feel smaller than ever. The most important thing you can do to defend your sanity is to separate your work space from your living space.
Does that mean you need to set up a spiky pencil fence like Jim? No. (In fact, if you have young kids, please don’t!) Just try to stay organized. Set up your work corner in the living room, basement, or attic and make sure you keep it separate from the rest of your life… and while working from bed is fun once in a while, don’t do it every day. It could mess with your sleep and heighten bedroom stress levels.
These are crazy times, so let loose and make your space your own. Heck, paint your little corner turquoise with help from your kids if you have to! Do what you need to make your creative/work space feel like yours. Nothing is permanent—we can deal with the weird interior redesign choices when this is all over.
Wear your headphones.
Zoom calls are a fact of life now. To be considerate of everyone else in your house, you're probably wearing headphones—if so, gold star! That being said, if you really dislike wearing headphones all day (or they hurt your ears), look into investing in a white noise machine to help muffle the sound. It could make a huge difference if you have sensitive ears.
Set work hours and play hours.
It’s easy to get glued to your office chair when you’re working from home. No commute time. Nowhere to be. But prioritizing work-life balance is more important than ever. Work time is work time, play time is play time. By setting a clear structure for yourself, you’ll find the sweatpants grind a lot more pleasant.
Of course, if you have kids, you'll probably have to sync up with their schedules. Do your best. If you're getting really distracted, consider early bedtimes for your little ones so you can crank out some productivity in their off-hours.
Working from home can be a tough situation, but remember to be grateful that you can work from home during these uncertain times. There are millions of people who simply cannot work right now. In fact, it's an important practice for all of us, whether you're working or not—finding the little things each day you can be grateful for. In tough times, it’s so important for your mental health to keep acknowledging the positive aspects of your life. Try making gratitude journaling a go-to practice if you find yourself particularly stressed these days.
Find ways to get outside.
Staying at home doesn't necessarily have to mean staying inside. Soak up the beautiful weather by taking Zoom calls from your deck, porch, or in your yard if possible. If you have kids, take them for garden walks, play 'I Spy' through an open window, or create obstacle course races in your yard. Get creative with finding little slices of precious outdoors time.
Oh, and if all of these video calls have got your inner introvert screaming, be sure to make time for yourself with a grounding solo stroll in the fresh air once in a while. (Just make sure to continue social distancing if you do head to the park or a local trail. If it looks really busy, head somewhere else or come back later. Let's keep nature safe for everybody.)
Meditate, meditate, meditate.
Look, you don't have to go hardcore monk, but a little daily meditation can help to take the edge off these uncomfortable times. If you want to sit cross-legged in a quiet corner somewhere, great. But if that classic image of meditation isn't quite your style, you have options—you could practice journaling, take unplugged walks in the mornings, practice mindful breathwork, or try a little restorative yoga. Whatever quiet time sounds most appealing to you, do it. There’s no right or wrong way to meditate. The benefits come from trying.
Work on your communication.
If you’re staying home with roommates or family members, one, remember that what you’re doing is so so important. By making the sacrifice of staying home, you are saving lives. Two, it looks like we’re in this for the long haul, so put extra effort into mindfully communicating your needs with those you’re stuck inside with (including your kiddos).
There is no right or wrong.
These are unprecedented times and we're all just figuring this thing out. Do your best. We will get through this together.