I’ll never forget the day I retired from office work and was able to work from home. I thought working from home would be a breeze and shortly after it began I realized I was dead wrong and it took much more of a strategy. When it began, I was lazier, I didn’t move as much, I ate more, and I was lonely. I was on the verge of becoming the exact opposite of the person I encourage everyone else to be. Luckily I caught it quick and didn’t let it bring me down. It also taught me some things I can share with you so you can be in a good place as well, especially as many of us spend more time at home over the next few weeks. We all know we can learn from our own mistakes but sometimes it’s better to learn from others so you won’t have to make them in the first place.
When working from home it’s easy to be in home-mode and relax. It kind of feels like a lazy Saturday with stuff to do. It’s normal to want to move slower so keep a routine. Parents, you most likely have a routine thanks to the kids. Wake up when you usually do and get dressed. Try not to stay in the PJ’s too long. There’s something about getting dressed that makes our minds more productive and switch gears. I might joke about always wearing sweatpants but the truth is I’m usually in some sort of casual work clothes for this reason.
You’re also going to want to choose a dedicated workspace at home. It doesn’t have to be a specific room, just a specific area. When you’re in that seat, it’s work. When you leave, it’s home. This can also get your mind right and separate the feeling of being home and doing other things like laundry, cleaning, or watching movies. Although I’m not always the best at this, it’s a good idea not to work everywhere in the house. It makes a home feel like work and it’s difficult to disconnect. Pick a spot and use that as the work zone. If you sit in a place where you normally relax you risk making that area feel less relaxing.
Eating from home
This is the tough one for most people. Being this close to the kitchen and the pantry is a much smaller hurdle to jump over than if you have to leave and go get the food. For this reason, you want to think of some “rules” to set for yourself. Set a timer for when it’s mealtime and don’t eat outside of that. Mealtime can include a snack, but be careful of the mindless eating that can take place at your workstation. Don’t have candy dishes out and do your best not to wander to the kitchen if you’re a bit bored. Remember, you’re working from home, with the Internet, and your boss isn’t there. You can go on Youtube or something instead.
In the event, you do find yourself walking into the kitchen for some snacks, remember the strategies from this blog. Make the foods hard to see (keep them off the counter and back in the pantry), make them hard to get into (a package in a package), and make them hard to justify (a note that reminds you of your goals). If you do this you will reduce the chances of a snackccident.
We know the best way to limit overeating while working from home is to not bring the food into the house in the first place, but that’s not always possible. Just keep an eye on how you feel when you do get the urges. Is it boredom? Is it hunger? Is it a picture of food? If so, sit back, breathe, think of yourself in the future after making good decisions, and get back to work! Sorry, that’s the boss in me.
This is one the coaches and I always joke about. Our members often think we’re these fitness people who move around all day but the reality is anything but that. We’re basically office workers in the health and fitness industry. If we didn’t put effort into moving we’d all get about 2500 steps per day. Some of our coaches even went from 20,000 steps a day in previous jobs right down to a few thousand.
So what do we do? We strategize the movement so we can increase our NEAT. If we don’t move like we used to and eat the same amounts we risk packing on that extra energy (food) somewhere. We set alarms to walk around every so often, we “walk and talk” where we move around when on calls, and some of us even have walking treadmills. This can net us thousands of additional steps and allow us to burn hundreds of extra calories per day. We’re a “eat fewer calories to lose more weight” era when many times we can move more and eat more. Be purposeful with movement in addition to exercise. Weight loss and maintenance are often easier when living a more active lifestyle and all that means is increasing movement. It doesn’t mean kicking your own butt with ANOTHER workout.
Another factor that can impact our mental health is the feeling of being isolated. Water cooler talk isn’t a thing at home unless you have a talking pet, and you can’t pop up out of a cubicle and chat with a neighbor anymore. You have to connect face to face to get a similar feeling. Phones can help but at SU we like doing video chats and seeing one another. It helps us to feel connected and helps alleviate some of the loneliness that comes from a work from home environment. Hold me. In all seriousness, this is probably the biggest downside to working from home that people least expect. Humans are social creatures and being alone will affect how we feel and ultimately lead many of us to the kitchen. It might sound silly for me to talk about this but anything that impacts the way you eat is something I will touch on.
Stay the course
Working from home, spending more time at home than we’re used to, and living in uncertain times as we all feel the effects of a global pandemic can mean plenty of new challenges in our lives. From how we handle our food to how we manage our time since we’re no longer heading into the office.
Here’s what I want you to remember as we all make our way through these uncertain times: control the things you can. This is an excellent opportunity to shift your perspective about what success looks like for you and practice the skill of reframing your situation. Maybe success will look like making a good decision when we have the opportunity, even if it might not be the kind of decision we would make when everything is going according to plan. Maybe it looks like finding new ways to move your body at home. Maybe it looks like spending more quality time with your loved ones. Maybe it means cleaning, reading, and doing other forms of self-care that are easier for us to neglect when we’re working, traveling, working out, and more.
Ultimately, this is a good time to remember that we really do control so very little in our lives. There are thousands upon thousands of things that we can impact our day-to-day lives. The measure of success isn’t that we somehow find a way to stay picture perfect. It’s that we find a way to make the very best choice available to us at any given point. That’s a skill that you can always work on and practice, no matter the circumstances.