Working from home

Occasional Contributor

With working from home and workloads piling up, what are your suggestions for self care and work life balance? What are specific tactics you use to disconnect from work when all of it is happening in the same space? 

10 Replies
Great question! I have grown some habits that keep me on task, both mentally and physically. I have my office set up just outside of our kitchen for two very good reasons: 1) I get to see my family during their breaks. A quick conversation eases some of my tension and triggers the "watercooler" talk that most of us are truly missing right now (quarantine or not). 2) At the end of the day, my two little humans (that have become our mental health advocates in house) show up shortly after my shift is over and remind me that I need to close up shop and step away from work for the night. Parts of my self care include hand-creating coffee every morning (for some folks, it could be a workout, a walk, etc) - but again, you do what works for you. This triggers my brain to say that focused efforts and work is beginning soon. I also take regular "walk and talk" breaks during the week, usually during my lunch break and utilize MS Teams for the calls. Not only does this help me and others stay up to date on what's happening in our lives, it gives us all that human connection that helps to keep us calm in general. Just talking about work, life in general, and the state of the world helps to reduce my anxiety! Hoping these tips help you as well!
I agree @Shingyu - I am struggling in this area myself - My city went into lockdown three weeks ago (finishes on Sunday). I am struggling with disconnecting from work which is a concern as I'm a single dad and need to be more present for my kids. Exercising is also something that I struggle with as the primary issue is as you say "It is happening in the same space". I've reflected on this and am looking at using the following: Speaking to my manager about my working hours. If he sees me online, I will ask him to call me out on this (and he will too) Talking to a friend who is active - he will hassle me to workout and he will even participate in an online workout. Telling my kids that its ok to tell me I have to stop working. Basically - I will be leaning on my friends, family and co-workers to hold me accountable. Paul
Agree, this is such an important and relevant question especially during this new normal. Since the lockdown started in March, I've heard from so many folks who say that instead of "working from home" they are now "living at work" (read this: It's truly unhealthy if not managed properly, leading to burnout.

Strategies I've personally adopted are:
- Similar to Chris, I also have my workstation set up in the living room so I get to see family members at mealtimes, when they come out from a snack, get a drink of water etc. Even seeing family members/catching up with them for brief moments during the day helps with brightening my mood.
- I block spots in my calendar for meals (because there are certainly days where I'm so slammed with work that I forget to eat!); this helps me be disciplined in making sure I take time for meals and to have a mental break
- I add this to my email signature which I've been using for a year now: "My working hours may not be your working hours. Please do not feel obligated to reply outside of your normal work schedule." --> This helps others whom I interact with not feel pressured to work outside of their normal hours, and prevents that burnout culture where people feel like they need to overwork themselves to meet everyone else's demands. We need to give one another more flexibility, space and grace to cope during this time :)
- I keep a daily Q&A journal which asks me one question a day to reflect on; this helps me keep a record of how I'm feeling, and this routine enables me to really internalize each day as it passes (especially since working remotely can make all the days blend into one!)
- Placing houseplants at/near my workdesk; looking at them reminds me that I need to water them, and strangely enough, reminds me that I need to take care of myself too, not just them (sounds weird but it 100% works lol)

I hope this helps someone! :)

@ShonaBang That house plant strategy is excellent!!


@Christopher Gill I love these tactics! I've definitely been struggling with trying to make sure I get up (if it weren't for my watch, I'd go WAY too long without even standing) and now that we're about to transition into some cooler weather, I'm definitely going to try to work some walks (or meetings+walks) back into my schedule. 

I definitely feel you on the struggle on the exercise piece! I used to love going to the gym or a workout class - and I haven't been able to figure out how to motivate myself enough to work out. An accountability buddy or someone to do an online workout with sounds like a great idea. Thank you!

@ShonaBang Do you have journal recommendations or a place where you like to go and pull questions from? I love all of these suggestions! 

Yes! This journal is what I'm currently using - each day's page is pre-populated with a question to ponder upon. It's a 5-year journal, so you can really see how you've grown/developed as a person :)

"Q&A a Day for the Soul: 365 Questions, 5 Years, 1,825 Answers"

It has questions like:
- Do you take the time you are given?
- What is one daily ritual that is important to you right now?
- What could you strip away to make your life more fruitful?
- Do you accept love from others?
- Are you complaining about what you don't like, or are you working towards change?
- What project can't you finish? Why are you holding on to it?

So many good ones! :)
I'm very lucky in that I have a small human who DEMANDS my attention when she's at home, so that certainly helps. I also find that my pets (I have cats) also seem to know when the work day is done, and they'll quite happily make pains of themselves to get me off my PC.

I certainly do struggle with this one though - I am a chronic workaholic, so trying to "switch off" is HARD.

I find that setting myself specific work hours, setting alarms on my phone for things like breaks, lunch times and finish times helps. I have my notifications for certain applications (email and Teams) turned off after hours so that I don't see those alerts coming through so I don't feel the need to check them.

If possible, try and split up your work and home life - have a dedicated area for work, have a dedicated computer for work. I'm incredibly hypocritical with this - I use my home machine to do most of my work because it's such a nice set up :face_with_tears_of_joy:

Get friends and family to keep you on track too. If you live with someone, get them to remind you when to take breaks or to poke you when you're checking email outside of work hours. Having other people hold you accountable can be better than trying to hold yourself accountable.

I also find having hobbies helps - I'm a Lego addict, though I haven't bought much since COVID hit; I play video games far far too much and I'm a crafter. I find that I need something that'll keep my hands *AND* mind busy. That could be gardening, that could be cooking - I've even been known to clean when I need to get "out of my head" for a bit. Do what works for you.


I love your question, very relevant during this challenging period for all of us.

Sharing some strategies I’ve personally adopted and keen to learn from others:

  1. A morning meditation to start my day. Just 5-10 minutes to set the right, positive intention for myself.
  2. I block my calendar for mini breaks to clear my thoughts and probably do some stretching exercises. 
  3. I tell myself to log off at 6.30pm for a workout. Not a long one but a short 10-15 minutes workout to wrap-up my day. It is very difficult to get into a routine, but I keep pushing myself to do it. A habit usually take 21 days in a row and your body will get used to it.
  4. Finding new hobbies like cooking, baking, reading to destress and it could be a way to bond with your family members.
  5. Healthy eating as it can help to boost your energy and make you happy!


I came across an interesting ted talk video on how to turn off work thoughts during your free time - Have a watch.

Visit to get our entire library of TED Talks, transcripts, translations, personalized Talk recommendations and more. Feeling burned out? You m...