Many of us begin our work-at-home job search because we’re stressed out at our 9-to-5 and are looking for an escape. Whether it’s a bad boss, co-workers straight out of Mean Girls or a long commute that’s stealing too many precious minutes from our lives, we are positive that working from home will make us feel less stress.
But, many times, it doesn’t.
Many studies are now telling us that many people who work from home are feeling even more stressed than office workers. Many telecommuters suffer from insomnia even more frequently.
What’s the deal?
As I struggled with more and more stress-related illnesses this past year, it became inevitable that I take an honest look at my own work-at-home situation. It didn’t take too long to identify a lot of triggers for which I had no one to blame but myself.
If you are feeling a little beaten down by the remote life, I have a few tips today for getting away from work when you work from home.
1. Set Strict Boundaries
This is without a doubt the biggest source of my stress. While I have a quiet home office with a door, I spent much of the winter working on my laptop out in the living room or kitchen. With the advent of so many smartphone apps, work is also with me wherever I go. A dinner date with my husband could be ruined in an instant by unlocking my phone screen to see an email that could have – and should have – waited.
We so often talk about setting work-at-home boundaries to protect our time from others, but what about protecting us from ourselves?
- Leave that work email address off of your phone.
- Keep the laptop out of the living room.
- At 5 PM, shut down the computer for the night for real.
You know where your personal work creep is happening. Nip it in the bud. Work stuff can wait a lot longer than many of us allow.
2. Learn a Craft
I’m not a DIYer. I’m really not creative at all these days beyond writing blog posts. But, that needs to change.
Recently, I started thinking about how much I used to love writing poetry in high school. It was one of my all-time favorite classes. It’s something I’d really like to get back into (poetry is a great way to overcome “emotional ick”).
I also pulled one of my grandma’s embroidered tea towels out the other day and remembered I was probably the one who embroidered it. Embroidery was something we did a lot together, but it’s something I haven’t done at all in over 30 years. I’d really like to!
If you were a fellow embroiderer in your past life, or feel the pull to be a stitcher in the near future, I have some awesome stuff on my shopping list:
- I love these samplers on Etsy for getting back in the swing with those stitches.
- Bluprint, formerly Craftsy, offers tons of online classes for every craft under the sun.
- I love subscription boxes. I found some great boxes here, here and here.
- I'll also be picking up this step-by-step guide to more than 200 embroidery stitches
Maybe embroidery and cross stitch isn’t your future craft, but maybe knitting, jewelry-making, quilting, leather-working, gardening, growing succulents or wood burning is. Find an outlet. Take an online class. Check your local community college for an upcoming adult education class.
3. Read a Book (not a business book!)
This isn’t much of an issue for me, because I don’t think I have ever made it all of the way through a business book. I love to read, but that’s not my genre. My great escape is true crime and American history.
Take a stroll through Barnes & Noble – online or in person. What looks appealing in the clearance or new releases? Spend an hour or two at your local library. I always check out three or four books at a time just in case the first book doesn't hold my attention after all I have a backup.
Volunteering can be a great break from work stress. It can also be humbling and truly inspiring. It’s good for your soul.
It won’t take long to find a good cause in your community. Ask your church, local homeless shelter, animal shelter. Donate some of those new crafts your making. Annie's even has a Caring Crochet Club for that.
5. Make a Recurring Date with Yourself
It can be easy to find a dozen excuses to not leave the house – all your friends are working and can’t do lunch, your sister’s too busy with her kids or grandkids to go walk around the mall for a few hours, activities are just too expensive these days, etc. So, you just stay in the house for days or weeks at a time.
Get out of there!
The weather is getting warmer. Pack a sandwich and go to the park. Take a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood every afternoon.
I have no problem taking myself on a date. See if your local theater has a “$5 movie day.” Maybe you are lucky enough to have a discount theater that offers tickets even cheaper than that. Take an afternoon once or twice a month to go see a flick.
Check out the free events calendar in your city. Check out the free state park days. There will be things you can go do and see for free.
6. Start and End Your Day with Meditation
Meditation is one of the hardest things for me. My brain just doesn’t shut down easily (which is why I need meditation).
Meditation can come in many forms. For me, it’s usually prayer. For you, it could simply be quiet, mindful breathing for a few minutes.
Find something that works for you and do it every day.
7. Protect Your Night Time
One of the things I did immediately when I started having trouble sleeping was to implement a “no phone after 7” rule. Seriously. No phone.
No Wordscapes. No checking email. No Facebook. No Instagram. And no one is calling me after 7 anyway.
Immediately I started sleeping better.
It’s crazy that we think we need these phones in our hands 24-7. Why? It wasn’t too long ago we didn’t have them at all. And we were probably a lot happier. Put it down. Leave it behind. See what happens.
Those are just a few ways you can overcome a little work-at-home stress. I don’t think it’s possible to get rid of it entirely, but there are changes you can make today that will improve your work-life balance. Your work-at-home dream didn’t include high blood pressure and insomnia. And it doesn’t have to be that way.