Visas and Work Permits — 6 min
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.
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.
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.
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!
Take 5 full minutes to stretch. Touch your toes 🦶. Perform a happy baby pose 👶. Any stretch will do. Your muscles and bones will thank you for it. “Deskercise” tips below 👇.
Go for a pre- or post-work hike or walk or jog 👟 (or equivalent). Bonus: @job-ify your experience and don’t take anything with you. No phone. 📵 No devices. No distractions (if safe to do so).
If you have an unavoidable sync call, take it while you walk around the block🚶♂️📞 (or equivalent). Benefits of a walking meeting below.
Dance like no one is watching 🕺🏽…we work remotely, so chances are no one is! 👀 Try a full out jig when grabbing a snack, tango with your partner in the living room during a break 💃🏿 or simply head bob at your desk, keep your body moving and enjoy yourself. Not only is dancing good exercise, but it can boost your mood and cognitive performance. And remember, there’s no such thing as a ‘wrong way’ to dance.
Take 15 minutes today, pick up a crossword puzzle or Sudoku 🤔 and spend some time flexing your brain muscles 🧠. Your brain is constantly making decisions, so giving it something to focus on for a short spell provides a little relief and escape. And it can help keep your brain sharp and smart 💡. If you can’t find a paper copy of a puzzle ✍️ (best option), there are many online versions of a crossword and Sudoku puzzle.
Stand up during the workday as much as you can. We’ve read the dangers of sitting for too long 🪑 and using a standup desk to change positions helps keep your body moving which increases your energy level 🔋. For bonus points, try a treadmill desk to walk while you work. 🚶🏽♀️
Early bird walk?🚶🏽♀️Pre-lunch pilates? Evening crossfit? 🏋🏽 Schedule ~30 minutes of exercise at the time that works best for you and work your tasks around it. Prioritizing and scheduling it 🗓️ is one step closer to actually doing it; your body and mind will thank you 🙏. And if you’re not able to get out of your house, mix it up with at-home workouts.
Enjoy a cup (or two) of tea or coffee ☕ in the afternoon. Brewed just the way you like it! (decaf counts!)
Take a mindful pause for lunch 🍴 and don’t eat at the desk. Set the stage for lunch, fully disconnect and dig into your life-giving meal. Thank it if you want. Or think about how amazing it is to have tastebuds! 👅 Below are some reasons why to not eat lunch at your desk 👇.
However you say it, try to drink 2.5-3.5 litres or 11-15 cups of it 🚰 today if you can. Not only is 60% of our body made up of this stuff, but drinking adequate amounts each day helps with increasing concentration, energy levels, and boosting mood 💡, while decreasing stress levels and naughty food cravings 🤫! Read more below.
Take a tip from our 🇸🇪 Swedish friends 🇸🇪 and adopt the concept of fika. Schedule these daily short breaks and have a moment to slow down and enjoy life’s goodness. You can do it alone or with friends. At home 🏠 or out and about 🌳. And usually involves a coffee and a baked good 🥮, but do what works for you. Njut av!
It doesn’t need to be fancy 🎂. It doesn’t need to be competition-worthy. It could even be just a microwave mug cake. Bake something that brings you joy. Baking can stimulate the senses, be great for mental health 🧠 and provide you an outlet for creativity 👩🏻🍳. Success isn’t if your loaf rises or if you get a 💯 score from your most honest critics (kids! 🧒🏾), it’s in the art of experimenting with ingredients. Have fun and bon appétit.
Simply try a food you haven’t tried before or that you previously didn’t like. This new experience may change your mind or reveal a new favorite! And regularly trying new foods has many different benefits like boosting mood, gut health and overall nutrition. If you deem yourself a “picky eater,” you might also find that you’re not as picky after all!
Being within walking distance of your fridge can be a frequent temptation 😬. Every screen break from work can end in the kitchen looking for something to nibble on. Setting ground rules for your eating habits throughout the day can keep your energy levels high 🔋 and appetite distractions to a minimum 🙅🏽♀️. Consider putting less healthy food in a single cabinet to make it easy to avoid 🚧 and keep healthy snacks in stock and easily accessible.
Take a moment to savor some good chocolate 🍫. There are so many benefits of enjoying this smooth treat and depending on your purchase, you’ll be supporting cacao farmers around the globe 🌍. If you want to take this to the next level, find a cacao ceremony in your area and try cacao tea! 🫖
Breathe all the way in. Pause. Breathe all the way out 🗣️. Unclench your jaw. Unclench your stomach. Repeat. Do this x3 times 🤟
Take a 10-minute break to journal or free-write ✍️ (or equivalent).
Oxygenate your lungs. Exchanging short breaths for longer ones to help stabilize your heartbeat and blood pressure. Breathe… - In for 2 seconds. Out for 4. 🌬️ - In for 3. Out for 6. 🌬️ - In for 4. Out for 8. 🌬️ - Repeat for however many times you’d like. Or try Square Breathing (a.k.a Box Breathing): In for 4, out for 4 on repeat. 🔁
Not just children can enjoy the benefits of coloring books 🎨! Coloring is actually proven to improve focus, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote feelings of calmness 🧘, peace ✌️, and wellbeing 🤟. Adult coloring books 📕 can be found in most book stores or try the one below.
Following the below Ziva meditation technique, take 3 minutes to stop and be in the very present. Close your eyes and detect the most and least prevalent thing in each “sensing” group (5 Senses). If you’re able, start with bringing awareness to your sense of hearing 👂. Then sense of touch 👈. Sense of seeing 👀. Sense of taste 👅. Sense of smell 👃. Then all together 👂👈👀👅👃. Practicing being in “the present” will help for the times when your mind wants to remunerate on the past or focus too much on the future.
Literally do nothing for 5 minutes ✋. Preferably outside if it’s safe. No input. No output. Just simply do nothing. 🙅🏼♀️ The world will be there when you’re ready to return, so take this moment for you and as the saying goes, “let your soul catch up with your body.”
Be it an evening. A full day on the weekend. Or a couple of days in the woods 🌲, implementing time for a ‘digital detox’ can help reduce stress and mental functionality. With the digitization of our world, our brain 🧠 needs downtime from all the stimulus to recharge and restore more than ever. And you may find the most peace ✌️ when you’re unplugged and untethered 🔌.
To help brighten your morning 🌅, prevent clutter, and to give yourself a fresh start, reset your kitchen each evening 🌙. This can be as simple as doing the dishes straight away or as involved as wiping counters, putting out new towels for the next day, and scrubbing the sink. Taking 10 minutes ✋✋ each evening may help prevent a more time-consuming chore later.
Do something today that your future self will thank you for. This can be anything big or small. Start flossing your teeth 👅. Let your kids make more decisions 🧒🏽. Actively avoid self criticism when you notice these negative thoughts 🙊. Make that phone call ☎️. Anything that you feel you’ll look back on today and say “I’m so glad I did.”
Take 10 minutes to plan your next day off or upcoming holiday 🏖️. Jot down what you want to do. What you want to see. Anticipation is half the fun!
If you’re facing an overwhelming goal, consider breaking it into pieces; smaller actionable goals that you can tackle daily. Let’s learn from ants 🐜, who diligently carry one grain of sand, yet over time, are able to make massive (to them) hills! Start the small steps 👣 towards your big goals today and celebrate the daily wins 🎉 as you get closer to “the top of the hill.” ⛰️
The term “therapy” has had a bad rap to imply there’s a problem that needs fixing 🛠️. But that’s not entirely fair. We aren’t supposed to know everything about everything - that’s why we rely on experts who have studied extensively 📚 on how to help us find the keys to healthier living. Online articles are helpful, but personalized support is miles more effective. Be it physical therapy 💪🏾. Psychotherapy 🧠. Financial therapy 💸. Take a moment to think where in your life you’d like a little freedom and support, and make an appointment.
“Time management promises us that if we become more efficient, we can make space to accommodate all of our to-dos comfortably….And yet, time management is like digging a hole at the beach: the bigger the hole 🕳️, the more water that rushes in to fill it. 🌊 ” Here are 3 tips to help relieve some stress:
Reduce the volume of tasks on your plate and time-box your to-dos (be realistic with your schedule 🗓️ when committing to things)
Adopt an absolute principle 🙅🏽♀️ to avoid making small decisions (i.e. “No more screen time after 8pm” 📵 instead of “Limited screen time”; meal plan for the week)
Use structure, not will power, to minimize distractions (turn off wifi for down time; use apps that help limit social media)
Take a moment to determine the small habits you could focus on in your life to encourage continuous improvement 📈. “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37x better by the time you’re done.” Continue doing what is working and reduce habits that create tiny losses; these small steps, though unremarkable in the day-to-day, will pay off in the long run.
Learn from our 🇳🇱 Dutch 🇳🇱 friends by adopting a voorpret mindset, ‘joy or pleasure ahead and in anticipation of the actual fun event.’ By looking forward to exciting events in your life 🎉 by writing them in your calendar 🗓️ way in advance, you’ll not only boost your happiness but give yourself plenty of practice in realistic optimism.
Try creating space budgets for each category of items. Experiment by having one draw dedicated to reusable containers, 30 clothes hangers in your wardrobe 👕, one cupboard for all sheets and towels 🛏️. By limiting how much space each category has, you’ll hopefully be left with just the items you really want to keep, and ultimately a clearer, more organized space 🧘♀️.
Set aside 20 minutes a week to worry. The catch, try not to worry during the week 🙅🏽♀️, but instead jot it down and wait until your scheduled time to worry. Worry itself isn’t all bad, but constant worrying can be detrimental to your health 🩺. When you do get to your worry slot of the week, brain dump on paper to prevent them swirling around in your head ✍🏼, think through actionable steps ⛰️, and release what you can. Taking 0.20% of your week for this exercise may brighten the remaining 99.80%.
Put a timer on for when you engage with social media ⏲️. This may help with setting boundaries, reclaim your time, and put an end to “passive scrolling.” 🤳 And knowing you have a limit allows you to be more intentional on your devices. Keeping in mind that scrolling is a method borrowed from the gambling industry 🎰 may give you a boost of will power when you’re tempted to stay on for “just a little longer.” 🤏
If it’s helpful for remembering, try this 9 to 1 daily countdown and reap the mental, physical, and emotional benefits: 9 thousand steps 🚶🏽♀️8 hours of sleep 💤7 glasses of water 🚰6 minutes of contemplation ☺️5 servings of fruit & vegetables 🍊4 breaks during your workday 📖3 meals and 3 healthy snacks 🍲2 hours of no phone before bed 📵1 session of exercise (tie it with habit 9 if you want!) 🏋️
Give yourself a 3-minute break 🤟. Sit comfortably, take a deep breath in/out and close your eyes 🙈. Notice and observe how your body feels right now. In this very moment. Start with the top of your head and scan all the way to your toes. Be mindful of your body - after all we only have one! 😛 Try a guided body scan below.
Keep something on your desk that reminds you of your purpose in life. Be it a photo of your family 📷, a memento 🎲, an inspirational quote 📜, or simply your own “statement of purpose” ✍️. Anything small that fits in your workspace. You may encounter lulls throughout your day and these small reminders can help you focus on what fuels you 🚀.
It’s sometimes easier to forgive others than to practice self-forgiveness 🤟. We can hold ourselves to an unattainable standard 📈, we criticize ourselves for not knowing the full consequences of our actions (a.k.a being a fortune teller! 🔮), we can, as the old saying goes, “be our own worst critic.” It’s helpful to remember that mistakes, failures, and even incredibly stupid acts 🤦 are part of being human. It’s how we learn and grow 🌱. And not practicing self-forgiveness may negatively affect your health in so many different ways. Resources for self-forgiveness below. If you need a spotter, that’s perfectly fine - reach out to a confidant or counselor.
Take a moment to assess the pace of your days. Are things ticking along relatively smoothly or do you feel rushed 🏃🏾♀️ and anxious? Though it’s beneficial to utilize your time wisely ⏲️, squeezing too much in one day can be dizzying 🥴 and could lead to “Hurry Sickness.” Unless it’s life or death, try to remove or postpone 1️⃣ task on your to-do list today.
Take 5 minutes and jot down 3-5 things that went well this week 🎉. Things you’re proud of. Anything, personally or professionally, that you might “write home about.” ✉️ It’s human nature to focus on the negative and the mountains yet to conquer ⛰️, but you can give yourself a mini boost 🚀 by looking at the distance 👣 already traveled over the last week.
Daily, weekly, monthly, take some time to check how you are feeling 🔎. We’ve been on a rollercoaster 🎢 for some time and in a recent Gallup survey, “nearly 2/3 of full-time workers are dealing with burnout at some point while at work.” You may not be burning out 🕯️, but you may find that you’re “languishing” or “alonely.” Below is a handy term guide. It’s OK to not be OK, reach out and share with someone close to you 🤗. Alternatively, you may be flourishing and may benefit from taking a moment to be thankful for this time.
It’s likely that you look in the mirror daily. This can be a very negative experience for many because of the unkind inner dialogue you hear 🙉. Try not to listen to those words. Instead, when you look in the mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say things you like about yourself, even if you feel silly doing so. Self-talk has been proven to work. You can also put up a few notes on your mirror with positive reminders. Waking up every day with a kind message to yourself and your body may change the relationship you have with yourself in the most positive way 📈.
These three simple words describe the core of who you are. Sure, we make mistakes 😖 - we can learn from those. Sure, we triumph and do amazing things 💪🏽 - we can be proud of these. But these “doings” will never change the very foundation of your “being.” Today, resist temptations to strive to become more worthy, more valid, more acceptable and rest in the knowledge that you are enough 🤗.
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” attributed to 🇺🇸 President Theodore Roosevelt and others, evokes a powerful sentiment that can be life-changing. With an instant view into other’s highlight reels via social media 🤳🏼, it is easier than ever to compare our lives with others. By doing so, we may be left with feelings of inferiority 😖 or even superiority 👑 —and neither creates an emotionally healthy version of us. Instead, focus on the good in your life and be thankful; you may even find hidden joy in the things you’ve previously dismissed.
Life is filled with chances of evaluation ✅. We naturally do this at the end of chapters, after a big game, at major life milestones, but the same retrospection can be done each day. Take a moment each evening 🌇 to look back on the day to see how you’ve moved towards or away from your goals. Were you as gentle with the kids as you want to be. Are you proud that you went for that long walk. Even, were you able to resist temptations that would derail your momentum. Small evaluations here and there have the power of keeping you on track. Take inspiration from the frameworks and practices you use in a workplace content to quikcly reflect on past projects, process lessons, and move forward with intentionality 🛤️
We spend a lot of time in our heads and thoughts, thinking through what happened and what needs to be accomplished. For anything that won’t impact you within the next 5 years, try to only give it 5 minutes ✋🏾 of your time ⏳. Eliminating thoughts altogether is difficult 😖, but limiting how long we dwell on something is something we can control. Giving any more than 5 minutes to very long-term thoughts will rob us energy that we could use on other tasks in the present.
Change locations while working today if you can. Sit outside to soak in some vitamin D 🌤️. Answer emails while lounging in your favorite chair 🛋️. Better yet, take the laptop to the park or the beach. Mix up the routine.
Later this evening, take a few minutes to look up at the stars ✨. Think of how vast and wonderful our universe is 🤩. This may help put this week’s small problems into perspective. Bonus: pull out a sleeping bag and spend an extended time outside - you might just spot a shooting star. 💫
Take a window break 👓 and watch the world go by for 5 minutes 🌏. That’s it. Spot something you might not have noticed before. Life is made up of the small details 🌱.
Take a 5 minute :hand: break and search for baby photos of your favorite animal 🐶🐱🐻🦘(puppies, kittens, cubs, joeys, etc). This seems like a silly exercise, but looking at “cute” pictures of baby animals can help with attention and concentration. 👀 And who can help but smile!
If it’s safe to do so, book some time this weekend to get out into nature 🌳. Following what’s practiced in Japan, 🌲 shinrin-yoku or “forest bathing” 🌲, simply get out into a forest or woods and soak in the environment. Listen to the rustling of the leaves 🍃. Smell the aroma of the trees. Do anything that’s calming and relaxing - there is no one-size-fits-all. The simple act of experiencing nature may help reduce feelings of anxiety and fatigue, and slow your pulse rate. Bonus: leave your electronic devices in the car/at home 📵 (again, if safe to do so)
If it’s safe to do so, eat your lunch outside today ☀️ and finish it off with a 5 minute stroll🚶🏾♀️. Take in your surroundings, enjoy the fresh air 🌬️, and give your body a moment to digest before you begin working again. Mixing up lunch locations can add a pinch of excitement to your routine and you may discover some new bird friends 🐦. Take a lead from the French, where eating lunch at your desk is now illegal!
Numerous scientific studies have proven the positives of having greenery in your workspace: from reduced stress to increased productivity 📈 to reduced sickness rates! 🤒 Add a potted plant 🪴 that you have to nurture daily or go all out and bring as much nature indoors. Note: Keep in mind plant allergies you or others in your house may have.
Take a moment to send a thoughtful text, email, letter to a loved one ❤️ and mention something about them that you’re thankful for. Better yet, let them hear your voice. Making their day will make your day! 🙏
Write down 5 things ✋ you are grateful for in your life. Be specific. Sit in each thought and enjoy that feeling, that moment. Much in life can bring sorrow and frustration, so having a list 📝 to remind you of life’s good and beautiful may come in handy. Benefits of gratitude journaling below. Bonus: if a loved one is on your list, how about sending them a little note?
Thank a colleague for something small 🔍 they do (or did) that they would not normally be thanked for. Acknowledge mundane everyday efforts with gratitude 🙏 - it will give you and them a boost. 🚀
Take a moment and be kind with yourself. Think of somewhere you might have stumbled, learn what you can and verbally forgive yourself 🤗 (or equivalent). After all, you are human. 👈
Our body is an ⭐INCREDIBLE⭐ thing. It doesn’t take a day off, even when we’re sleeping 💤 it’s hard at work restoring us. Take a moment to be thankful for the body you have, it’s your only 1️⃣. Use this as a trigger to practice some physical self-care. Take a day off exercising at least once a week and go for a stroll instead. Explore your city. Find a new route and refresh your mind and body instead of pushing yourself to exercise (or feeling guilty for missing a workout).
Feelings of belonging are so important to our overall life satisfaction. Especially for remote workers where social interactions are limited. Take a moment and think of someone in your life (doesn’t have to be your immediate circle). The first person who pops into your mind 🧠, send them a text/email or call them ☎️ to say you’re “thinking of them.” 🤗
“Recover your sense of worth outside of anything you do or achieve. Everything in your schedule doesn’t just happen—it was put there. When we forget our worth, we forget what really matters to us. We let others define our values and priorities. We begin to say yes to everything, and wonder why we are left so exhausted and drained 🥱. We don’t value our own time and abilities, and therefore sell them to the lowest bidder. Knowing your worth is the start of changing this pattern.”
Choosing one thing 👎 is saying no to another 👍. We are finite beings with limited time, energy, and resources. Choose what matters most in each moment and fully commit. And be vigilant to guard against any incoming guilt 🙅♀️ for not doing the other task; you can’t do everything and no choice is perfect. Be honest and gentle with yourself.
Each chapter of life brings along new friends and acquaintances 📙. If you’re no longer keeping contact with friends from previous chapters, that’s OK and healthy 👍. But if you are, reach out to an old friend and see how they’re doing. The world 🌎 has changed quite a bit in the last few years and they may be encouraged to hear from you. 🤗
Make it a habit to express gratitude throughout the day 🙏. Schedule short breaks to think about what you’re thankful for. It doesn’t need to be long winded - consider adding a minute session ⌛ at midday, and one before you sleep 💤. Or spend time as a family at dinner and take turns saying what you’re thankful for in that day. There are no negative side effects for being grateful, in fact only positive outcomes.
Helping others obviously helps the receiver, yet did you know there are many benefits for the giver? Volunteering at the local food bank 🥫 is always a good option, but any small acts of kindness will brighten your day and those around you. Send a kind message to a colleague ✉️. Pay for the car behind you at a drive through 🍟. Be the eyes of those who are visually impaired 👁️. Leave a post-it note for your server or in a book from the library 📕. Smile and interact with your local grocery cashier 🙂. Anything that you give, will return to you tenfold.
Find a tennis/baseball/racquet/cricket ball 🎾⚾ or even a dryer ball. Roll your feet on it for 5 minutes - getting the pressure just how you like it ☺️. Foot reflexology massage has shown to reduce stress, depression, and blood pressure and improve immune functions.
Rest your eyes 👀. Practice the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes look at something 20ft (6m) away for 20 seconds. Pop on some blue light blocking glasses 👓. And yes, eat your carrots! 🥕Bonus: implement a no-screen day/evening to lower eye strain.
Resist hitting the snooze button in the morning ⏰. This small tap can confuse your brain into resetting the sleep process which will then be interrupted 8 minutes later with a 2nd, 3rd, 4th alarm 🚨! To help you get 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night 😴, adopt a regular sleep schedule and reduce late night activities that may prevent you from falling asleep on time (blue light 📺, alcohol and food 🍺, stress too late in the evening 🧠). And seek a professional if you’re consistently feeling tired even after a full night of rest.
Look after your skin by applying sunscreen ☀️ and/or lotion 🧴throughout the day. This organ "protects our body from environmental stressors, regulates our body temperature, receives sensory information, and stores water, fat and vitamin D.” Use this practice to help remind yourself to take a 15 minute walk outside in the elements to expose yourself to the sunlight and take in some of that vitamin D. Bonus: Turn the practice into mini self-massage sessions if you want to 💆🏽♀️.
Our time on Earth is finite, yet the amount of things to learn are infinite! Take 10 minutes today and learn something new. You don’t need to become an expert 👩🏽🔬. You don’t even need to remember it the next day 🤔. But pick something small and enjoy. Follow a YouTube video on how to tie a windsor knot 👔. Learn hello in a 2 languages via Duolingo 🗣️. Complete a crossword puzzle and go down a rabbit hole for one or two words. Learning something new each day is like exercise for your brain 🧠 and you may also reap the many benefits.
This may be tougher in winter, but add cold showers (anything <20C/70F) to your routine 🚿🥶. You may have heard of the Wim Hof Method, but scientists have found evidence that exposure to cold speeds up metabolism 🍎, improves quality of sleep 😴, focus 👀 and immune response 🤧, as well as increases endorphins 😃.
Not the most exciting part of your day or year, but such an important part of adulting and self-care: schedule a checkup with your doctor 🩺 and dentist 🦷. This has been a stressful year (understatement!), and as we know, stress has a major effect on our bodies. Even if you’re doing it just for your family, get ahead of any problems before they become hurdles ⚠️. And while you’re at it, consider adding vitamin and mineral supplementation to your daily routine (especially Vitamin D with K2 and Zinc during these waves 🌊).
You may recall the word “languishing” from 2021. It’s the sense of stagnation and emptiness; not burnout 😰, but not depression either 🙁. In-between. If you’re finding you’re not feeling yourself recently, here are a few tips: - focus on micro goals 🎯 and try to find things daily that help you get into the state of ‘flow’ - carve out uninterrupted time ⏳, establishing healthy boundaries - check-in with a counselor/therapist (ModernHealth has an option) to talk things through. We go to the gym for our physical health, so this is no different for your mental/emotional health 🧠 May 2022 feel a little lighter as we continue to practice self-compassion 🤗.
We are productive things. Incredibly productive. But we are human ‘beings’, not human ‘doings’. We need time to just ‘be’ and quiet the internal nagging voice to keep doing, keep producing. Each week, carve out one full day 📆 where you simply rest ☺️. Avoid work if you can, paid or unpaid, and enjoy the beautiful things in your life. Get out into nature 🌲, have a dance party with the kids 🕺, get lost in a novel 📖, have a progressive meal with friends 🍽️. In other words, does it give you joy? Do it. Does it feel like work? Don’t. This weekly habit will remind you that your worth isn’t based on what you produce, but who you are.
We’re busy. Very busy. 🥵 And at times it feels like we’re drowning in to-do lists. Instead, jot down three important things that you want to accomplish each day and stick to those. The other items can wait their turn 🙅♂️. By creating this short list, you will increase your focus and give yourself a sense of accomplishment as you check off the 3 boxes throughout the day. ✅
Take a moment to jot down any personal (and/or work-specific) accomplishments you’ve achieved recently 🏅. Focusing on the never ending to-do list can be discouraging and prevents us from giving ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back for the amazing things* we achieve daily. Bonus: implement a daily/weekly 📆 retrospective to celebrate what you achieved. *Amazing things: these don’t need to be “influencer”-worthy things; the fact you’re alive and healthy today is worth celebrating, so anything healthy that you do counts!
Say “no” 🙅 more often. It’s hard to say and even harder to receive, but unless a request of your time is healthy for you or unless you’ll be able to fully commit to your 👍, it’s good to give it a 👎. Your time is precious and each minute spent on things you don’t want to do is a minute taken from things that give you life and fulfilment ⏱️. Learn more below. Work-related: learning when to check out early, take a break or set realistic timelines when a task can be completed may take a lifetime to master, but starting now will serve you in the long run.
“You don’t tune your instrument after the performance 🎻 .” There is great importance in creating a morning routine 🌅 to help provide some consistency in these wild times. Carve out time in the morning to sit and savor a cup of tea ☕, be mindful and meditate 🧘🏽♂️, cuddle with the kids 🧸, anything that will help “tune” you for the day ahead. Below are some morning routine life hacks. P.S. checking work email as the first thing you do is highly discouraged!
We all hit flow at different times in the day ⌛. If you haven’t discovered the right schedule that works with your energy and focus levels 👀, and if your team allows it, experiment with your work hours. Try shifting your start time or breaking your workday into chunks (using the Pomodoro timing technique is an ideal starting point) 🍅 . The world is questioning and moving away from the ‘traditional 9-5,’ so see what works best for you.
If you have any upcoming video calls, consider switching to audio 🔉. Either hop onto video mode for only the beginning and end to say hello/goodbye 👋, or stay on audio the whole time. With the “self view” of video calls, it can lead to the phenomenon called “imaginary audience,” which could ultimately lead to anxiety or overly critical thoughts of yourself.
Put on white noise while working 🎧. Having this kind of background noise can help you focus 👀, stay productive and reduce stress. There are plenty of playlists offering white noise or you can create your own here. And if you’re having trouble sleeping 🥱, try a little white noise to drift off to - it may give your brain something to focus on and help unwind from the daily bustle 💤.
As detailed in the “How to win friends and influence others,” there is an art to listening 👂 more than you talk 🗣️. Instead of trying to convert someone to your idea or control the conversation, savour hearing differing perspectives and try to learn at least one thing from every interaction. Not only may you gain trust from the person you’re listening to, but you’ll also be more deliberate when you do speak 💎. [As we go into the holiday season where you may gather with relatives who have competing opinions, ask questions❓, practice listening 🙊, pick out what’s beneficial and leave behind the rest. You’ll have a more enjoyable time and keep your peace of mind!]
A research group has discovered that putting your device out of sight 🙈 while having a conversation enhances your experience 📈. Technology has increased our standard of living, but can at times get in the way of living fully. Try creating a space where your phone “goes to bed 🛏️,” removing it from the table 📵 or keeping it out of your hands 👐 to get the most out of your daily in-person interactions.
Our brains are in overdrive making 35,000 decisions a day 🧠💥. This can lead to decision fatigue. It’s human nature that when seeking improvements, we tend to add ➕ things to our lives (additive changes). But perhaps subtractive changes ➖ may be better here. Help your brain by removing as many simple decisions as possible. Establish a morning routine. Develop a personal “uniform” 👕. Have the same breakfast and lunch 🍣. Set up grocery/household subscriptions (if available) 🍌. And if you’re making big decisions, try to do as early ⏰ as possible when your mind is fresh.
Do something for yourself today that you consider a treat 🎀. Living a “life of luxury” doesn’t have to be expensive 💸, and as the song goes “the best things in life are free [or inexpensive].” Take a fika break in the park 🍰. Play your favorite tunes and dance 🕺. Sink into a bubble bath 🛁. Play with your pet 🐩. Anything that brings you life. And remember, give yourself the freedom to fully enjoy your time. Below are some extra tips.
Continue reading fiction 📚 or if you’re more into nonfiction, intersperse fiction into your library. There are so many benefits, including increasing empathy, creativity 🎨, and inclusivity awareness; improving sleep 💤 and relationship management skills; and lowering stress! Not too shabby for an evening on the sofa 🛋️ with book in hand.
Incorporating regular massage sessions 💆🏿♂️ into your schedule is not just restful, but a good way to take care of your body and mental health. It can improve circulation and mental alertness 🧠, while reducing stress hormones and anxiety. But don’t just wait for your weekly/monthly visit, add daily self-massages to your work breaks. Start with your shoulders and legs 🦵, then finish with your forearms and hands ✋.
As we set records around the world (in not so great ways: fires 🔥, rain ☔, temperatures 🥵), it may be helpful to look for the good news ✌🏼. It won’t be on front pages, as it isn't as profitable for large news outlets, so you may have to do some digging. It can be helpful to read what is going well when you’re bombarded with all that’s going wrong. Future Crunch is a good resource, as well as the Good News Network.
Listen to ambient background music 🎧 while you work or are trying to concentrate. We all know that music can move us, and ambient music can help improve cognitive and task performance 📈, concentration, energy levels 🔋, and mood. Not too shabby for some strings 🎻 or a synthesizer 🎹.
Yes, it’s life-giving to be around family. Yes, it’s lovely to be surrounded by friends. But do try to give yourself plenty of “me” time to recharge your batteries and feel a sense of restoration. It doesn’t need to be hours ⏳, it can simply be 20 minutes. Block out time to read a few pages of your favorite book 📕, play ambient music and have a warm bath 🛁, go for a short jog 🏃🏽, meditate 🧘🏾♀️. Putting your oxygen mask on first will ultimately give you the energy to care for others.
Take a moment to enjoy an episode of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. Be transported back in time to watch an artist 🎨 paint “happy clouds ☁️, mountains ⛰️, and trees. 🌲 ” Use these 25 minutes to let go, wind down, and be inspired to notice the small details, the goodness of the world around us.
Video games 🕹️. Board games ♟️. Card games 🃏. Embrace your inner child and play any game today. “While play is crucial for a child’s development, it is also beneficial for people of all ages”. Benefits include stress relief, improved brain function :brain: and connection with others, as well as promotion of creativity 💡. If you’re looking for a card game to take you deeper with those around you, try THE AND or Where Should We Begin.
To help clear your head, keep a book 📕, Kindle, or audiobook 🎧 within arm’s reach so you can read/listen to a few pages. By taking your mind off the task at hand, you may find that your brain relaxes and restores ☺️, even if momentarily. This tactic can also break up the day and add a little adventure, so you don’t feel like you’ve been nonstop on your checklists ✅. Even if you can’t take a digital detox for a half hour, you can still immerse yourself in some non-fiction journalism or narrative storytelling from your favourite online publication. The mental switch from deep work and analysis to engaging with a story will help you decompress and recharge.
Grab your favorite candle and strike a match 🕯️. Adding candles to your workspace can help improve your mood, alleviate stress, increase focus and bring forth positive memories associated with the scent 👃. And if you miss the “aroma of the office,” try these Eau D’Office candles…
Take 5 minutes ✋, close your eyes and pop on a rain soundtrack ☔. Get lost in the sound as much as you can. Create an imaginary scene of the nature where you’d rather be and explore your created space 🌧️. 5 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but even this small amount can provide a moment of peace and mindfulness ✌️. If you don’t find rain relaxing, try with any other sound you do find calming.
Mix it up today and listen to new music from unfamiliar genres 🕺🏽, including those you think you dislike. You may find your tastes broadening 🎧, and discover wonders you might not have appreciated in the past.
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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