Creating Relaxing Environments in the Home

If we’re all doing all that we can do to mitigate the spread of the virus during the pandemic, it means that we’re all spending a lot more of our time at home now. In my own case, I’m not only spending all of my free time at home, I’m spending my work time at home as well: in the “before times,” I spent almost all of my time at the small, private gym I opened a few years ago; now, I’m still spending as much time as I can with my clients, but it’s all entirely online. That means that my home space has tripled its duties: it’s now my domicile, my home office, and the center of my online “social life” and self-care “spa.” Because of this, I’ve been working on strategies to make my home environment as peaceful, calming, and as relaxing space as it can possibly be—whether it’s my workplace, my private space, or my entertainment space—at any given hour of the day.

Productivity at Home

At the outset of the pandemic, I thought that working from home would be a breeze: I’d wake up, head over to my desk, get to my online duties, workout with clients, have a nice lunch, get back to work, then finish up and “close” for the day. But, the stress of the pandemic left me unable to truly focus without setting up some rules for myself, which I defined here: 

  • Location

To change my outlook on working from home, I defined my workspace. Basically, I couldn’t just set up a “table” as a desk, and a yoga mat and a few exercise bands as my “home gym” area for my clients. I looked around my small-ish home and chose a spot that was partially confined, but still open space. I didn’t have an extra bedroom—and I certainly wasn’t going to risk damaging my relationship with my awesome property manager by starting a construction team of “one” and tearing any walls down—but I cleared a corner and “roped” it off with furniture, and that was perfect. In a confined and smaller space, I have fewer things to look at—and am definitely not in range of the television—so there are fewer items or activities that can distract me. In a corner, the only views in my immediate vicinity are walls. I built a corner desk, and now I finish all my online work first and give myself breaks in between to stretch as rewards for completed tasks.

  • Desk Organization

Making a consistent effort to keep my work desk organized is training me to be a meticulous person in all of my administrative work. Also, my well-organized table gives me a fresh, positive start to my workday—above all else, organization is relaxing, and a relaxed me is a more productive me.

  • Comfort

People who work from home for long hours all experience the same problem – aches and pains in a stressed-out body. This can really harm productivity: pain leaves us all irritated and annoyed and makes us lose our focus. As a fitness nut, I can’t recommend taking intermittent breaks to pull up a basic “yoga flow” video online and letting yourself relax as you stretch.

  • Past the Walls

I know that I mentioned that being free from distractions helped my productivity—but, I want to make sure that you’re not just staging at blank walls while you’re working. I don’t want to feel that I’m in a prison: that could be extremely detrimental to my mental health, and we’re all already far too isolated during this lockdown. Instead, I follow my therapist’s advice when it comes to decorating my workspace, and have pictures of friends, family, and beautiful places I’ve been (or plan on seeing someday) surrounding me; together, these pictures remind me of my life outside of my job and show me that I’m a valued person with goals for my life that aren’t solely defined by my career. They do wonders for my mental health, and also inspire me to work for something beyond these walls. 

After Work Hours

After work, I redefine my “work” space into a relaxing “home” space by practicing mindfulness. To relax, instead of letting my mind wander through work assignments that aren’t yet finished, I’m actively present in the moment. If you haven’t felt mindful before, it does take practice, so start small: try sitting down, relaxing your body, and focusing on breathing in and out. Remind yourself to return focus to your breath—and leave the “outside world” behind—-and eventually you’ll notice minute details about your environment without your mind being clouded by the banalities of life’s needs. It might sound hokey or “new-agey,” but it’s made all the difference in restoring a sense of peace, purpose, and warmth in my home—during these times of uncertainty, it’s nice to have a place to “escape” to; even when you’ve already been there all day. 

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