Whenever you walk from one room to the next or move your laptop from one table to, working from home online blends your work and home lives, disrupting work / home balance. As a result, you may find yourself more anxious, irritable, fearful, confused, or tense. You may also be stressed because you feel like your work days are never-ending just like the pandemic.
As a crisis management consultant and mental health professional, I have led more than 20 online groups for schools, companies, and non-profit organizations since the pandemic started in March. One common theme with every group and myself is the mental, emotional, and physical blending of home and work lives. There is little distinction between leaving home to go to work and leaving work to come home.
Drive Time, De-stress Time
Prior to the pandemic, we spent hours driving or commuting by public transit to get to our jobs. Even though we complained then, now we miss our drive time and see that it was part of our self-care routine.
It was a way for us to de-stress from our workday. We could leave it all behind (or at least most it) and away from our family/personal life at home. Now, our work life follows us, literally, from one room to the next. Who would have ever thought it would take a pandemic to appreciate our time alone in our cars!
For those who have been working from home online before the pandemic, this may not be news to you. Perhaps you have figured out a way to deal with it already. For the groups I’ve been leading online, they have had to transition their jobs online in a moment’s notice which has been difficult and stressful.
The best practice to reduce the triggers and reactivity of blended work / home life is what I term “Intentional Transitioning.” What I mean by Intentional Transitioning is to focus your mind to notice your body moving from one space (home) to another (work).
Starting the Online Work Day
When work at my home office, I get ready as I normally do. I pause at the door to my home office and tell myself, “I am now transitioning to work, leaving my home life here at the door, and I will not take it with me to work.” Then, I open the door to my home office, walk through the threshold of the door, close the door, and begin to prepare for my day at work.
This practice also includes when taking breaks, lunch, using the restroom, etc. If you don’t have a door to walk through, use your imagination. The idea is for the practice to become automatic in your mind and body. Some people may need to physically walk out the front door of their home or around the block before transitioning to their home office.
Ending the Online Work Day
At the end of your day working from home online, intentionally say to yourself, “I am now leaving work.” Continue, saying, “I am leaving my clients, co-workers, employees, and work commitments here in this room until I return.” If you need to turn off your computer to help turn work off in your mind, do it!
What to Expect from Intentional Transitioning
By doing this practice, you will feel more at ease, more relaxed, more present, and more available for others. You will find more enjoyment in your “spare” time and “me” time, and others will take notice too.
This could be conscious or subconscious, but that doesn’t matter. What matters most is how everyone else also benefits from your choices in showing up for yourself and others. Experiment for a week, and if it works, keep doing it. If it doesn’t work, try a different approach until a transition fits and is in alignment with you.
To read more blog posts by Lisa Lewis, check out How to Create a Wellness Room to Relieve Anxiety, Stress and Fear and How to Decorate An Online Office which was featured on Practice of the Practice.