Working remotely can allow you to achieve a better work-life balance which can lead to higher levels of job satisfaction and overall happiness. However, if you’re one of the millions working at home due to COVID-19, you’re probably finding out that it comes with its own stresses. Try the following 5-minute self-care tips to get your day back on track.
A flexible schedule and the ability to work from any location are the top two benefits of remote employment according to Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019 Study. However, the unstructured nature of remote work can lead to a few unintended and stressful consequences, especially if you’re new to it.
First, it’s difficult to know when to say when. I’ll just answer “one more” email, and before you know it, it’s an hour later. Second, it means that your day is without built-in break times. Jerry’s not coming by your office for a coffee break, and you’re not running out to the deli next door at lunch. You may also find yourself feeling lonely and isolated. These feelings can leave you disconnected from co-workers and cause trust levels to suffer.
And you’ll feel all this in addition to the stresses you might experience keeping yourself and your family safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of this writing, months have passed since restrictions first started being put in place. Thankfully, some state initiatives have allowed some return of normality. But remember that stress is cumulative, and it won’t go away overnight. Taking care of yourself now is more important than ever to avoid any long-term effects.
The good news is that self-care does not need to be time-consuming, expensive, or complicated. Below are self-care tips that any remote worker can do in any location—and they only take five minutes!
Meditation is an effective self-care tip that offers an entire host of scientifically proven health benefits and is one of the quickest and easiest ways to relieve stress. You can employ different techniques in just a few minutes of meditation a day that can serve to de-stress, rejuvenate, and change your whole attitude. Below are three simple options:
- Breathing Meditation: Yep, it’s that easy. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your breath. Focus on the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves your body. If you like, you can inhale for a count of four, pause for a count of four, and exhale to a count of four.
- Sitting Mindfulness Meditation: Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and focus on your current experience. Where are you? What noises and sensations are you experiencing? Avoid making judgments; simply notice. This will serve to relax you, improve your focus, and ground you in the present moment.
- Active Mindfulness Meditation: Apply the focus and attention of the sitting to an action such as drinking a cup of tea, washing the dishes, or looking out the window. You will increase your enjoyment of the activity as well as becoming grounded in the present moment.
Self-massage, as with meditation, has been proven to bring a range of benefits from reducing muscle pain to lowering anxiety levels. Below are four self-care tips for specific problem areas:
- Head Massage: Deep thinking can have your head pounding. Relieve that headache by making circles with your fingers from the top of your cheekbones above your ears toward the middle of the forehead until your hands meet.
- Neck Massage: Relieve the pressure on your neck quickly and easily. Take your fingers and place them where your shoulder and neck meet on either side of your head. Apply pressure and pull forward while rolling your shoulders. Repeat three times.
- Back Massage: Sitting for long periods can cause pain in the lower back. To relieve any stiffness or pain, take a tennis ball and place it between your lower back and the wall. Move your back up and down or side to side to target problem areas.
- Foot Massage: Another use of the tennis ball is to give yourself a foot massage. Just place it under your foot and roll it around. Apply pressure as needed to relieve tension.
Exercise makes everything better. Exercise helps us think better, sleep better, age better, digest better, and—ahem—have better sex. It doesn’t take a lot of exercise to make a difference either. Studies have shown that just 15 minutes of high-energy exercise a day can kickstart your metabolism. Try these short exercises to start feeling better yourself:
- Walk: It doesn’t have to be complicated. Go for a 5-minute walk (or run if you want). Research shows that taking a 5-minute walk break each hour in the workday improved mood, reduced fatigue, and cut food cravings.
- Aerobic Exercise: Go high-energy and create your own 5-minute weight-loss workout that incorporates intervals of exercises such as jumping jacks, push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, and squats. Get that blood flowing and fat burning!
- Yoga/Stretching: If you’re looking for something a little gentler and a way to include movement and relaxation, try a 5-minute yoga or stretching routine. It works great for tension release and rejuvenation.
5-Minute Writing Techniques
If you are suffering from feelings of confusion, overwhelm, anger, or resentment, writing exercises can make a huge difference. Some studies suggest that writing can improve your physical health as well. Try these pen-to-paper or digital writing techniques and add them to your toolbox of self-care tips.
- Traumatic Experience Expressive Writing: Although it’s not fully understood, writing about the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing in response to a traumatic or negative event can help people cope. Expressive writing has also been shown to improve overall health as well.
- Positive Experience Expressive Writing: Expressive writing can also be used effectively to improve mental and physical well-being when a positive experience is written about as well. The benefits of expressive writing can be realized by writing just two minutes a day.
- Gratitude Journal: The benefits of keeping a gratitude journal have been well-studied and are nearly as impressive as exercise. By taking just a few minutes a day to write down what you are grateful for you can sleep better, lower stress, eat healthier, lower blood pressure, and on and on…
5-Minute Foods & Drinks
Nourishing our bodies can be a great way to care for ourselves. The benefits of self-care using food and drink are plentiful and provide us with a boost of steady energy, improvement of mental function, and the nutrients we need to support a healthy body and immune system. Below are a few simple options that you can use in your free time:
- Drink water: The health benefits associated with a simple glass of water are astonishing. Your physical performance will improve, your brain will function better, and you will have more energy, just to name a few.
- Eat superfoods: Superfoods are nutrient-dense foods that can add extra punch to a healthy diet and give you a lift when you need it. One grabbable option is any kind of berry, with blueberries and raspberries topping the healthy list. Better yet, add some plain yogurt. Nuts are another great option, including hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, and pecans.
- Mindful eating: While you are eating or drinking—especially if you are not living up to your self-care standards—try to be mindful. Pay attention to the smell, taste, and experience of the food or drink. This practice will increase your appreciation and provide you with important information about how your body is reacting to the food. Even if you are indulging in a cheeseburger, chocolate donut, or a glass of wine, practice mindfulness. You may find yourself indulging less.
5-Minutes at Play
That’s right, one of the best self-care tips is just to spend a few minutes at play. Sometimes we take ourselves too seriously and need to let go and relax. Play has been shown to improve brain function, reduce stress, stimulate creativity, improve relationships, and help you feel young. A few easy options include:
- Group games: If you’ve got people in the house, try and engage them for a few minutes of fun. Play hide and go seek with your kids. Toss the Frisbee with your dog. Set up a mini-golf hole in the living room and compete with your partner or roommates.
- Individual pursuits: No one around? No problem! Color in a coloring book. Play solitaire or try your hand at a crossword puzzle. And of course, there’s an app for that. You can now choose from a growing number of stress reduction game applications that can fit the bill. For example, there’s a bubble popper app, a coloring book app, and a variety of puzzle apps.
Other 5-Minute Self-Care Tips
Lastly, here is a grab-bag of additional self-care tips that you can try out regardless of your home office environment. Each one can change your perspective, improve your mood, and clear your mind.
- Music: Listen and dance to your favorite song. Favorite songs can get us moving, improve our mood, and remind us of good times.
- Declutter: Speed clean your workspace. An uncluttered workspace will reduce your stress and help you focus on the task at hand.
- Go outside: Nature is a wonderful escape for a 5-minute break. Pay attention to the trees, feel the breeze, smell the flowers, and hear the birds chirping. It’s guaranteed to make you feel better.
- 5-minute facial: Take a break and spend a few minutes slathering on a mask or using a little sugar scrub. Make your skin glow and give yourself a wake-up call at the same time.
In the end, whatever techniques you choose, the most important of all these self-care tips is that you set aside the time for self-care. It doesn’t need to take much time or be too complicated. Often, we get caught up in the busyness of the day, and put-off or downplay the importance of taking time for self-care. The result is an accumulation of stress. Over time, chronic stress can lead to anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia.
So, do yourself and those you love a favor. Take some time to treat yourself kindly. You deserve it!
iStock image: Jasmina007
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