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Wellness | January 12, 2021

5 Ways to Stay Centered While Working from Home

We've experienced an entire history textbook's worth of events in the span of a few months, so to say that things are stressful right now would be a massive understatement. During these, ahem, unprecedented times, it's more important than ever to cultivate rituals that take care of our mental health. When your home also plays the role of office, it can be difficult to separate the two and stay centered. 

If you've done even just a cursory Google search on how to stay sane while working from home, you've probably seen tips like "dress for success" and "set regular work hours." Now, it's not that these tips aren't solid advice, it's just that we're nearly a year into the pandemic and nobody needs to hear that they should wear hard pants to work from their couch. (Oops, working from your couch or bed is definitely a no-no you'll find on those aforementioned lists.) Unprecedented times, remember? Here are five ways to stay centered while working from home—changing out of your sweats not required. 

1. Schedule breaks into your day

Scheduling breaks into your day may seem like some unnecessary Virgo nonsense, but this can actually help you have a more focused day. The ideal for productivity is to work for 52 minutes and then take a 17 minute break. You don't have to adhere to this exact timing, of course—the point is to spend the time you allot for work wholly focused on the task at hand. 

2. Keep your phone in the other room 

Okay, this is one of those usual tips that bears reiterating because when you get distracted, it takes your brain an average of 23 minutes to get back on track with your task. 23 minutes! And all those pings and notifications on your phone are incredibly distracting. If your phone is just sitting there, facedown on your desk, it can be far too tempting to just "quickly" check your notifications. Leave your phone in a different room to make it more difficult to give into temptation. For those of us with phone separation anxiety, remember that you don't have to abstain from it for the entire day. See the above tip and work checking your phone into your breaks. 

3. Have a bedtime ritual

You already know that sleep is essential for your overall well being. But when the hours bleed into each other and every day feels the same, time pretty much has no meaning. Creating a set bedtime ritual can signal to your brain that, "hey, it's almost time for sleep so start calming down." A routine can also help you decompress from the day. This could be listening to a specific wind-down playlist while journaling for 30 minutes. Maybe it's dimming the lights, using an essential oil diffuser, and reading. Or fixing old grandfather clocks. It can really be anything, the point is just to create a calm environment that makes the transition from awake to sleep easier.

4. Meditate 

If you think that there's no way your anxious brain can meditate, well, you probably need some meditation in your life. Meditation is about mindfulness, focus, and doing something with intention, and it can look different for different people. For some, that may be finding stillness, closing their eyes, and listening to a guided meditation. For others, it could be stepping away from their phone, playing music, and taking a bath. 

5. Write every single task down

You know when you have 1,000 things to do in a day, but somehow end up online shopping for three hours? Your brain is likely stressed from your internal to-do list. Writing down everything you need to do for the day can help clear your brain of all that stressful clutter so you're able to focus on work rather than if you need another pair of black ankle boots. This is helpful even if you don't complete everything on your list. Try doing this before you go to bed if worrying about the next day's tasks keeps you up at night. It's been shown to help you fall asleep faster.

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