Remote & Async Work 52 min

The ultimate list of 100+ self-care ideas to help remote workers recharge


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Working from home can sometimes be tough. 

Working from home in a pandemic can be even tougher 😖. 

It’s more important than ever to prioritize your full health and give yourself some self-care. The benefits are multi-faceted. Apart from the short-term impacts of reduced stress, increased focus, and refreshed energy levels,  you’ll also build a foundation to sustain your effort from month to month.

At Remote, we use our #selfcare Slack channel to post daily self-care reminders. These are very short, simple activities that team members can practice wherever they are working to relieve some stress. These self-care ideas might only help you feel 1% more content for five or ten minutes, but that could be the difference between a tough day at the office and a decent day at the office.

Sometimes you won’t feel like practicing self-care. That’s fine. You shouldn’t feel compelled. This isn’t another task you should feel anxious about completing. Take a rain check if you don’t feel like it. Don’t beat yourself up. 

But try to carve out time in your schedule to focus on yourself at least once per week.

You might even develop your own unique ways to practice self-care. We’d love to see you share these with the rest of your team so others can be inspired. 

You are worthy of self-care. It’s wild out there, so take regular moments to be kind to yourself and others, and seek a trusted confidant/counselor if you need a spotter 👍.

But first, what is self-care? And why do remote workers need it? 

What is self-care?

There is a lot of talk about self-care these days. Because the term is so often used as a marketing tool, people may mistakenly confuse self-care with products. When you think of self-care you might think of bath salts, spa days, pedicures, or resort stays. 

True self-care, however, is about much more than having a glass of wine in a bathtub. In fact, some medical organizations take a strictly health-related approach to self-care.

The World Health Organization (WHO) define's self-care as: 

“The ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”

The WHO goes on to include the following in self-care: 

  • Hygiene

  • Nutrition

  • Living conditions

  • Social Habits

  • Socioeconomic factors 

  • Self-medication

Think of all the ways you take care of your children, an elder, or a beloved pet. You make sure they get enough sleep, eat nutritious food, are clean, and get medical attention when they need it. If a child is overtired and frustrated, yet insists on staying up late and skipping dinner to work on homework, you would step in. You’d promise to talk to the teacher, and make sure your child eats dinner and sleeps. 

Self-care means doing the same for yourself. 

Why practicing self-care is so important for remote teams

While remote work comes with many benefits, remote workers are as likely as their traditional peers to suffer from job burnout. In fact, certain stresses experienced by remote teams may make them more susceptible to burnout than those who work on site. 

One of those stressors comes from the flexible line between personal time and work time. While flexibility and asynchronous work is a good thing, sometimes a worker might feel like their job should take precedence over personal time. They may work extra hours or check work email during time off because they happen to be online. 

Remote workers also lack the physical separation between work and home; they don’t have a commute to decompress between the two. Instead, remote workers may bounce back and forth between personal and work time. In a worst case scenario, that means they might not feel they’re giving their full attention to work or their personal life. Get a better understanding of mental health issues affecting remote workers in our article on the subject

It also means they have very little downtime between work and family activities, and that can contribute to burnout as well, and that can be dangerous, according to Jayne Morris, author of  Burnout to Brilliance: Strategies for Sustainable Success. Burnout contributes to both mental and physical issues. 

For this reason, remote teams should work on building self-care into their daily lives, but companies cannot count on individual remote workers to prioritize their own self care over work. 

Self-care for hybrid and office work teams

It’s not just your remote workers who need self-care. Hybrid employees and on-premise workers are just as susceptible to burnout and stress. They may also be working too many hours, and they may also be putting off PTO. The difference is, it may be easier for managers to see when someone has been at their desk for hours. 

Burnout affects workers across a wide variety of jobs and working styles. According to the American Psychological Association’s  2021 Work and Well-being Survey, almost 3 in 5 respondents reported stress related to work had affected them negatively. Workers said they lacked motivation and energy, cognitive weariness, emotional fatigue, and nearly half said they felt physically exhausted.

All of the above are classic signs of burnout. Burnout also causes workers to be less creative, be less able to solve problems, and become sick more often. In many cases, it can be averted by self-care. 

A new manager might not realize that at first, but new managers make many mistakes. Learn how to avert them here.

How leaders must help empower their team to practice self care

If self-care is not made a priority, it’s likely to fall through the cracks. In many cases, individuals are more likely to put other peoples’ (and organizations’) needs above their own personal needs. “I’ll catch up on sleep on the weekend,” they might tell themselves, or “I’ll just push myself to get this one project done and then I will take some time off later.” 

Unfortunately, sometimes “later” never comes. There’s always another big project and another deadline. 

For this reason, it’s critical that company leaders take the initiative, and encourage their teams to practice self-care. 

Doing this might feel a bit invasive at first; self-care is extremely personal. Leaders may worry about telling their employees they have to relax. Given the way work can take over the lives of team members, however, it’s vital to fight burnout by modeling good self-care, discussing self-care, and building in practices of self care during the workday. 

It must be a part of team culture. 

Building a company culture is difficult. Learn about setting up a remote-first culture in our guide.

How to build self-care into your work culture

Work is very much a part of our lives, especially for asynchronous, remote workers who may intersperse personal responsibilities with work. For this reason, you can’t expect your employees to have dedicated self-care time. Instead, self-care should be integrated throughout the day and with work. 

Below are some suggestions for making self-care a part of your culture at work: 

  • Start with expectations: Make it very clear that your workplace supports self-care. Let your team know that although they may get an email after work hours (this is standard in teams that work across time zones) they don’t have to respond to any such messages during their personal time. Let the team know that they’re expected to maintain a healthy work-life balance, and should take adequate time off for rest.

  • Use communication tools and away messages: Encourage your team to use the away messages on tools like Slack so that coworkers know when they are working and when they are off the clock. 

  • Minimum days off: Consider offering minimum days off; team members might be required to take 20 days off a year, for example. 

  • Be flexible: Let your team know that if they have to take a pause to care for family members or pets or other responsibilities during the workday, they are able to do so without stress.

  • Give your team breaks when they need it: If your team seems stressed or overtired, give them a day off. Sometimes an unexpected day off is just what your team needs to avoid burnout.

  • Consider a company-wide self care day: Schedule a day when everyone in the company takes time off to do something they enjoy. Remote offers a self-care day once a quarter. (Team members are encouraged to share their self-care with the team later so that no one is tempted to work instead.)

  • Model good self-care: If leaders aren’t modeling good self-care, it’s unlikely your team will feel comfortable taking time off. Take the time you need, make sure you log out on time, and engage in self care when you need it. 

Get more advice on creating a healthy, sustainable remote team culture in our guide

Self-care advice from remote work leaders 

Self-care is vital… but don’t take our word for it. We collected advice from a group of remote work pros about how they’ve built self-care into their organizations. 

Self care starts at the top

Candy Parker, senior HR business partner at new Relic, Inc., underlined the need for company leaders to talk publicly about self-care. 

“It certainly helps when messaging comes from leadership in the form of support, understanding, and coaching,” she said. “As an example, our incoming CEO recently posted an internal blog on balancing work & life.He included some specific things one can do and provided expectations for managers for their part in the relationship/process.”

Get your team moving

Lisa Gregory is a one-person HR department and consultant who has discovered the power of incorporating movement into the workday. 

“We can accomplish a ton during walking meetings (they walk, I'm at my computer updating trackers, etc.),” she said.  She also recommends movement throughout the day: morning and afternoon walks are a huge help to her, her team, and her clients. 

Try a “workation” 

You’ve heard about digital nomads, but what if the whole company went on vacation together? Thomas Kohler, CEO and co-founder of pplwise, calls that a “workation”  and it’s not just for a week: it’s for a whole month.

“We offer employees a workation two or three times a year, where the company offers a whole mansion for a full month for any employee in a warm place to work and ’be on vacation,’” he said. “Remote work made it possible.”

Get out the crayons!

“Something we've started enjoying is coloring,” said Kyrah Altman, CEO and co-founder of   LEAD. “LEAD’s Self-Care Coloring Book for Adults is filled with positive affirmations, notes of positive psychology, and feelings of self-compassion and empowerment!”

According to Altman, coloring improves focus, reduces stress and anxiety, and promotes feelings of calmness, peace, and wellbeing. 

Foster a sense of connection

Both Gregory and Kohler discussed the importance of a sense of connection and trust between team members. Gregory dedicates the first few minutes of every meeting to simply chatting with co-workers and clients. 

Gregory also encourages team members to check out early, say no, and set realistic deadlines so that work doesn’t spill over into personal time. “Not everything is as urgent as we may think,” she said. 

For Kohler, mutual respect  is paramount in creating a culture of self-care. “Certainly, trust from leadership in our employees and each other, paying at least market level salaries and appreciating each other is necessary as a foundation,” he said.

Plan ahead

Marketing manager Douglas Rolim says that being organized about planning his time and his time off has helped him maintain life-work balance.   “What helped keep a mental balance while working remotely has been a sense of direction,” he said. “It becomes easier planning time off-screen and feeling less anxious.”

How do you onboard remote employees? Get more expert tips in our article. 

Remote’s enormous list of self-care practices and ideas

So what can remote workers do to relax and take care of themselves? Below are some suggestions from Remote’s own team members. We’d like to give a special shout-out to Peter Maher, Edmund Hillary Fellow and co-founder of inWonder, who was instrumental in building this list of 100 self-care activities for remote workers.

All of these ideas have been used by Remoters during our self-care days and you should bookmark this page and share the list with your team!

100+ Self Care tips for remote workers

Exercise Self Care Ideas

Food Self Care Ideas

Meditation Self Care Ideas

Planning Self Care Ideas

Mindfulness Self Care Ideas

Nature Self Care Ideas

Gratitude Self Care Ideas

Recovery Self Care Ideas

Better Work Self Care Ideas

Relax Self Care Ideas

Self care is whatever you need it to be

As you can see from the list above, self-care comes in a variety of forms. Whatever helps you rest and recharge counts as self-care. It doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it makes you feel good and it lets you take the break you need and deserve. 

Work is always pushing up against the boundaries we set, but by taking time for yourself once a week, you can keep yourself balanced, focused on work, and feeling clear headed. Remote workers often experience challenges when it comes to work and personal balance, so to learn more about striking a balance between work and personal time, download Greenhouse and Remote’s Life-Work Balance Guide to learn more about creating boundaries between your professional and personal lives. 

To learn more about the importance of a remote-first team and the processes required to facilitate a productive and connected globally distributed team, check out our First Remote Hire onboarding guide.

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