It isn't a secret that I suffer from depression and anxiety, and being able to work from home has had a massive impact on my mental wellbeing – both good and bad. I have learned not only the importance of a routine, but also the importance of self care when you work from home. I have recently been going through counselling to help with my depression and anxiety, and one major thing that helped me was realising why I was depressed and anxious, as well as coming up with an action plan to change that. For me, it was the lack of routine. The fact that I love my business so much meant that some days I would work on it solidly from 8am to 11pm, which then led me to burnout, or as I like to call it, mindlessly consuming Netflix. It was simple – I had to stick to a routine. For me, that routine wasn't working set hours every day- which I'll get on to later.
What is self care
Self care means taking intentional actions to take care of yourself, whether it be physically, mentally or emotionally. This covers a lot and can include anything and everything from making sure that you take any prescribed medication to also allowing yourself time to exercise. Self care is unique to you!
Why self care is so important
Before I started on my self care routine I found myself feeling pretty anxious all the time. I remember the feeling when my phone was constantly pinging with emails from various people, I was over-committing and I couldn't keep up. Every time I sat down at my computer to work I was actually spending far too much time replying to emails I didn't need to reply to or tweeting. Then when I was away from my computer I was feeling panicked about everything I needed to do. This resulted in me spending weeks in avoidance by watching Netflix for hours and hours every day. I hadn't realised it at the time, but I was suffering from burnout and depression.
We all know that when you're on a flight, if an oxygen mask drops in front of you, you secure your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. Self care is so important because it helps you to look after yourself and then you can help others effectively. However it is so easy to forget it, or overlook it.
Self care takes many shapes and sizes – it could be making sure that you're eating at meal times, making sure you're exercising, taking time to see your friends, getting counselling or whatever makes you happy!
Why self care is important when you work from home
Unlike a traditional job where you can leave at the end of the day, working from home often means that boundaries can slip, and like me, you can find yourself working as many hours as possible. That lack of routine is difficult and you might find yourself burning out. When you work from home, you have to constantly motivate yourself which can be extremely difficult when you haven't been looking after yourself.
Self care means that you are looking after yourself in order to be the best worker you can be!
What I'm doing
These past few months have been such a learning curve, and I have learned how to take care of myself within my business and personally. Self care is different for everyone, but here are some of the things I am doing to take care of myself so that I don't reach that dark place again.
I like to plan my upcoming week over the weekend – I start by picking two days to have off that week, and then I add in any commitments I have to be somewhere. I then start adding in work, fun, seeing friends and getting exercise. I don't follow it to the letter, but it helps me to have an overview of my whole week.
I started a bullet journal – I have a lot of planners but I haven't found one that is perfect for me, until I came across a bullet journal. I don't follow bullet journaling to the letter – for example I don't have a daily page with things to do, but I have a notebook set up with anything I want. My bullet journal has a section for music I want to download, and a regular “brain dump” where I just write down all those niggly jobs I need to get around to and even a habit tracker where I try to build new habits. The great thing is that you can completely customise a bullet journal to be exactly what you want it to be. If you would like to get started then check out my Pinterest board dedicated to bullet journaling.
I have learned to say no – I use to say yes to every piece of work that came my way but now I am happy to turn down work or say no.
I've hired a virtual assistant – this has taken so much pressure off me work wise and freed me up to do more of what I enjoy.
Stopped mindlessly consuming Netflix – I still watch a lot of Netflix and Hayu, but before I turn it on I like to make sure I've had some productive rest. Productive rest is something I do away from working that is productive to my mental well being. It could be seeing a friend, baking a cake or going swimming.
I'm exercising more – I started off by purchasing a Fitbit Charge HR and then I rejoined the gym to go swimming. Taking time away from my desk has been great, not to mention the endorphins released from exercising.
I am taking “me time” – I try to do at least one thing a day that is purely for me. My favourite go to things are Pitch Perfect and Tangled DVDs, a Lush bath, colouring in books and bullet journaling.
Has taking time to self care affected my income?
One of my biggest concerns when I started actively self caring was that I was taking time away from earning money. However, it has actually made me more productive when I do work. I am able to focus more easily and have direction. I no longer get anxious about my unanswered emails or outstanding jobs. It has helped that I have built up a passive income over the past few months, meaning that I have been earning money whilst I have been away from working. As you can see from my income reports, things have been good financially!
What do you do to ensure that you are self caring?