Telecommuters have great advantages over those working in traditional office settings. However, the fact that you can take your laptop with you and work from literally anywhere—a park, a coffee shop, or the top of a mountain — can sometimes mess up the boundaries between your private and professional life and be the cause of unnecessary stress.
Here’s how to engage in self-care by activating your senses.
The Eyes Have It
How many times did midnight roll around as you’re rushing to get that project done, even though sometimes it’s not due for a few days? It’s almost like that blue light emanating from your computer screen takes you hostage.
Researchers have discovered there is a reason some people have difficulty breaking away from the computer. Modern computer screens have light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, because they are more energy efficient. The downside is that they emit a blue light that suppresses melatonin and signals your brain to stay alert. This is tolerable during the day but, at night, it’s important to stop work a few hours before bed.
Take regular daytime breaks, including a fifteen to thirty-minute nap. In the evening, you can sit by an open window and gaze at the stars, or you can step outside and enjoy the meditative effects of the flame-like glow of the sunset. If that’s inconvenient, simply learn to quiet your mind in a calm atmosphere without any distractions. Remove all your tech devices and learn to focus on your body and mind (yes, you can survive without checking your smartphone every five minutes!).
The Sounds of Life
Sometimes you need quiet to work and other times the silence can be so deafening that you crave background noise. This is a gray area where you need to find your noise-level comfort zone.
Play some relaxing classical guitar or piano concertos or make the most of the available smartphone apps, and download relaxing music and nature sounds.
Sometimes background noise outside of the house is exactly what you need. Why not go to a busy coffee shop or café and do your work there? The change of environment and ambient sounds of a busy place can actually increase your productivity.
There can be nothing more revitalizing than the smells of nature. It’s easy to put our nose on hold and not pay attention to the smells around us.
Living near a park is a great gift. You get the benefit of aromas that you may not have noticed before, such as seasonal flowers or freshly mowed grass. Have you ever noticed how clean the air smells after a good rain? Humidity leaves dew on the trees and grass and makes them smell wonderfully fresh.
If you are lucky enough to live near the beach, there is nothing more invigorating than breathing in the fresh salty air and taking in all the beach smells. Why not put a blanket on the ground, open your laptop, and make the sand your office?
If you don’t have access to a park or a beach, you can bring outside smells into your home with artificial scents. Some people use air fresheners, but these should be used with caution because they can be toxic. On the other hand, you need to make sure the candle flame is snuffed out before you leave the house or it puts you to sleep.
Taste is Your Best Bud
Eating is a wonderful pleasure that is meant to energize your body. Practice mindful eating and treat your body with all the respect it deserves. When you eat mindfully, your body is better fueled and you become more productive.
Make sure to eat the right amount of food. Eating too much or too little can slow you down and lead to sluggishness, which may lead to less productivity. Whatever your eating style —three meals or several smaller meals—certain foods are known to help with productivity.
For example, chocolate, tea, and coffee all have caffeine, which is a stimulant. A piece of dark chocolate or a cup of tea or coffee can give you the boost you need to increase productivity.
Fruit, especially citrus, has loads of vitamin C and other vitamins your body needs. Nuts are a great snack because they are packed with protein and nutrients. Take a break and have a juicy orange and a handful of cashews.
Finally, when working from home, it’s important to drink enough fluids to stay properly hydrated. Dehydration can lead to a foggy brain and leave us feeling tired and non-productive.
The Power of Touch
A good night’s sleep has many benefits for telecommuters, so it is important to take great care with your sleeping conditions. Keep the temperature of your room cool and open a window to invite fresh air. Remove all clothes, books, or other items from your bed.
What you sleep on is as important as your surroundings. If your mattress is uncomfortable or too small, it’s time to purchase a new one. Make sure your mattress is not too firm or too soft because you want to have the right support for your back, neck, and shoulders. Finally, invest in some good silk or cotton linens for maximum sleep comfort.
When you’re at the desk, or even lounging, an ergonomic chair is important so that your back, legs, and shoulders are well supported. Having sore muscles from sitting in an uncomfortable chair can slow you down and make you feel more tired.
Short breaks are welcome when working, so why not mix them with showers? It’s your me-time when you can clear your mind from all the cares in the world and focus exclusively on warm water gently touching your skin.
And, what about asking your significant other for a foot rub while you close your eyes and enjoy the sensations of being touched? Your feet have reflex points corresponding to various parts of your body. When these are massaged, there is a healing response with your corresponding organs.
Finally, the most important part of touch is to step away from the computer and socialize. Visit your friends and family and hug it out! Believe it or not, hugging has many benefits, including alleviating loneliness, strengthening the immune system, and relaxing your muscles.
Healthy Habits for Telecommuters
As a telecommuter, it is especially important to take care of all your senses. Take frequent breaks during the day and step away from the computer a few hours before bedtime. Pay attention to the sounds of the outside world and savor the smells of nature. Properly fuel your body and make sure to get enough rest. Do these things and your life as a telecommuter will become more relaxed and productive.