I remember thinking how much easier life could be if I worked from home. No more wasting time commuting! Dressing casually every day! Working whatever hours I wanted! Such freedom!
When I became an entrepreneur, I began working from home as my own boss. It was a new, exciting experience. It took a while to adjust; there were days I realized I’d done nothing but sit in front of a computer screen all day long. Not good.
There were times I realized I hadn’t-
- spoken to anyone all-day
- left the house
- heard anything from the outside world
- talked with friends
None of this is how a human being was meant to live. I needed to find new ways to stay mentally healthy and feel like a human being again while maintaining productivity.
It took me a while, but I finally realized that the way I was working was not conducive to happiness, health, or a sense of mental or emotional well-being. My priorities had to change if I wanted to stay mentally healthy and also enjoy working from home. So I changed a few things:
I began with the realization that meeting my needs should be on my priority list too. I affirmed that sleep is important. Eating is important. Socializing is important. Enjoying the life that I’m creating is important! So here’s what I changed to start creating more of a work/life balance. I’m happier, healthier, more productive, and more peaceful now.
Schedule Social Time
When the pandemic was in full swing in 2020 and 2021, I made online coffee and lunch dates with friends and family using free online tools. And every week I had a repeating online “happy hour” with certain friends and family. I reached out with texts and emails to others to stay connected.
Now that the world has reopened, I can do most of that face-to-face again. I make sure to schedule social time for emotional well-being and connectedness.
Use a Work Schedule
There was a time when I preferred to work with few breaks, under the assumption that I would get more done. It was not helpful in the long run.
When I was new to working from home, I actually didn’t want to have “a schedule.” I believed that the beauty of working from a home office was that I could work “whenever” I wanted! And I often wanted to work very late at night. Once, I began my workday at 10 PM, and the next time I looked up from my screen it was 6 AM. I had no idea. It didn’t take long for this newfound “freedom” to negatively impact my sleep/wake cycle and my moods and emotional well-being. Having the freedom to work “whenever” wasn’t working for me at all. I wasn’t tired at night when I should be sleeping, and I was tired all day when I was supposed to be working and taking care of other responsibilities.
So I decided I needed structure, but I still hated the idea of a schedule. In order to keep that feeling of freedom, I created a loosely defined work schedule, more of an outline, beginning between 7 and 8 AM and ending between 4 and 5 PM. I worked half a day on Fridays, and I didn’t work most weekends. Because I’m my own boss, I can modify this schedule according to my family’s needs. It offers the flexibility that I need, and it works for me.
Making myself stick with this more structured work routine has repaired my sleep/wake cycle and given me back a sense of control over my life. I can work more or less, depending on what I need to get done that day. I realize that many of us don’t have that kind or extent of flexibility, but I encourage you to tweak what you can to make your work day feel more productive and less stressful.
Even with a daily work outline, I still have a tendency to get immersed in work, sometimes to the exclusion of everything else.
When I started taking little breaks, I wondered how “behind” I would get. But soon, I realized that after a break, I actually felt better, had more clarity, and I was more productive. This was an unexpected surprise. So I continued taking breaks and made some of them a bit longer.
Even with taking several breaks, I’m getting all of my work done, and I don’t fall behind on my other responsibilities. During a 30-minute break, I may make myself a snack or lunch, take care of personal or family business, or give my pets the attention they crave.
I no longer drive myself like a workhorse. I’m kinder and more considerate of myself, and it’s reflected in the quality of my work.
Get Out of the House
We know that one of the best ways to stay mentally healthy is to get outside and get some form of movement.
You know what’s best for you to get your muscles going and blood pumping, I don’t have to give suggestions. Your body will appreciate any form of movement, and you’ll get to look at something besides your computer screen. And that brings me to the next thing:
A Change of Scenery
At some point, I got very tired of my office space and started working from a different area of my home after breaks. On some days, if I’ve had three breaks, I’ve worked in three different areas, including my office and outside, weather permitting.
My advice to you: if it helps, change your workspace now and then. Work in different areas of your home so your view changes. Work outside for a bit if you can. The mind enjoys a perspective shift!
I hope you can use at least one of these ideas to make a positive difference in your work day.
Learn more about setting boundaries
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Practice ferocious self-care: We can choose to focus on and be responsible for ourselves, our own thoughts, actions, and behavior. We can take responsibility for getting our needs met instead of waiting for someone to change or meet our needs for us. We are in control of ourselves, and no one is responsible for us but us.
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About the Author
As a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home, and with the help of professional therapists and continued personal growth, Diane Metcalf developed strong coping and healing strategies. She happily shares those with those who want to learn and grow in their own recovery journies.
Diane is an experienced advocate, speaker, and writer on narcissism, family dysfunction, and abuse. She draws from her personal childhood experiences, as well as her work in human service fields like domestic violence and partner abuse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master of Science in Information Technology.
Her transformational books about healing and moving forward include the highly praised “Lemon Moms” series. This emotionally supportive collection explains narcissistic traits and teaches how to reconcile past hurts to begin self-nurturing, healing, and moving forward.
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This website is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional therapy.