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How to Develop a Self-Care Routine While Working From Home

A woman sitting at a desk with a laptop open, resting her face on her hands with her eyes closed.
Yuganov Konstantin/Shutterstock

As more people swap out the traditional office template to work from home, it’s also more important than ever to set up a proper self-care routine. It can help you remain balanced, focused, and healthy.

Although working from home has a ton of perks, you can quickly find yourself responding to emails at 1 a.m., skipping lunch to finish a presentation, or getting up before dawn because half your team is in a different time zone.

As much as working from home and freelancing can be flexible, they also make it easier to work more hours total and neglect self-care. To avoid this, you’ll have to develop a healthy work-from-home routine.

Set a Timer

If you sleep in or attend an 8 a.m. SoulCycle class, that doesn’t mean you have to stare at your screen for 12 hours afterward. The best part about working from home is setting your own schedule, so you can grind when you’re the most productive and focused.

It’s easy to get overworked if you don’t have strict guidelines. It’s also counterproductive in the long-run, as you’ll end up feeling tired even if you’re lying on your sofa.

To prevent that from happening and enjoy all the benefits of not being stuck in a cubicle, set up a timer so your working hours are the same as they would be if you were really in one. They don’t have to be consecutive, either—space them out according to your workflow and energy level. But limit work to eight or nine hours and stick to it.

Are you an early bird? If so, get up in the morning and smash two or three hours of work. Then, take a breakfast break, go for a walk, grab a smoothie, or take a yoga class. Anything that breaks your work routine and clears your head is fantastic. When you get home, set your alarm for another two- or three-hour block of work, and then take another break. Repeat this one more time, and you have a perfectly balanced day.

If you’re more of a night owl, switch it up and give yourself a slow, easy morning. Schedule meetings in the afternoon, and discover the comfiest work-from-bed position. That way, you can just roll over and fall asleep when you’re done.

Get Outside

A woman walking her golden retriever on a nature trail.
MPH Photos/Shutterstock

When you take a break from work, don’t just turn on Netflix. Get outside if you can and take a walk in the fresh air. This gives you a chance to stretch your legs and get your body moving.

Working from home offers a lot less space and opportunity to move around than an office environment. You usually have to get up and trek around the office building (or up and down some stairs) to accomplish little errands throughout the day. Then, you might walk down the street to grab some lunch.

Don’t fall into the work-from-home trap of sitting at the desk in your home office all day, every day. Put on a podcast or take a walk around your neighborhood. You can even schedule a “walking meeting” when you don’t have to be physically present at your computer.

The beauty of working from home is you don’t have to be stuck in the same four walls staring at a screen all day, so don’t do it!

Get outside and let yourself relax, recharge, and prepare to jump right in when you get back.

Don’t Skip Meals

Sometimes, you might get so caught up in your work that you forget to eat. Try to keep track of your caloric intake, and make sure you eat proper meals, instead of just snacking on chips and guac.

Going to the grocery store is a drag, but when you work from home, you have the luxury of preparing homemade, nutritious meals.

You’ll likely notice a lot of changes for the better when you’re no longer grabbing fast-food lunches or settling for whatever’s left in the office vending machine.

Take Some Days Off

Just as you would at a regular job, make sure you take the weekend (or the equivalent amount of days) off each week. Some people are required to work on Saturday or Sunday. If you’re one of them, make sure you take two other days off during the week. You deserve to get the same amount of rest as your cubicle colleagues.

When you’re not stuck in an office all week, the lines can get a bit blurry. Again, just keep track of the hours you work and make sure it’s not all day, every day.

With that in mind, schedule your month however you see fit. Not every week has to be the same—you can always adjust and reorganize. For example, you might work more before you take a week off for vacation or less when your family’s in town.

You can also spread out certain tasks that aren’t urgent and focus on those that are. It’s all about organization and making sure you don’t get burnt out.

Don’t Apologize for Working from Home

You don’t ever have to apologize for the fact that you work from home. Sure, you can be grateful you don’t have to go into an office every day and can schedule your day as you see fit.

However, people who don’t work from home sometimes misinterpret what it’s like. They might assume it’s easy or that you’re in permanent “vacation mode.” The truth is, you’re probably logging some long hours and/or answering emails long after everyone else is off the clock.

It might be hard to change the mindset of others, but you don’t have to apologize because you work in a different way. Let your work speak for itself. Often, these remarks stem from envy or someone’s dissatisfaction with their own work situation—and none of that is your fault!

Remote work environments are definitely trending. But your work-life balance can easily be disrupted when you work hard and play hard in the same space. If you set some boundaries, though, you can take care of yourself and make your work-from-home lifestyle even better!

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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