Boundaries for Self-Love While Working From Home

by Jess K November 19, 2020

Tips on how to set boundaries while working from home.

In our most recent blog post, we shared tips for creating a cozy atmosphere in your home as a way of ringing in and enjoying the fall season. However, as many of us are spending most of our time indoors, we know that it can be difficult to draw the line between our pleasure and our to-do lists; to figure out how to set boundaries while working from home. The transitions were abrupt: afternoons in the office or co-working space replaced by Zoom calls on the couch. For those living alone, the closest thing to a coworker might just be your next door neighbour. The morning commute has been shortened from bed to desk. As we approach wintertime, it may become harder to prevent our work from overlapping with our care practices as we continue to adjust but we’re here to chat about the importance of putting our boundaries into practice as a way of preserving and uplifting general health and mental well-being.


DRAW STRICT LINES 


In conversation with Brené Brown, sisters and co-authors Emily and Amelia Nagoski shared Herbert Freudenberger’s definition of burnout circa 1975: “The three components of burnout are emotional exhaustion, decreased sense of accomplishment and depersonalization.” It is an alarming state to be in (like many, I learned about burnout the hard way – through excruciating first hand experience) but by setting the right boundaries, we can begin the journey of striking a balance between our outer worlds in an effort to maintain emotional wellness. If this topic feels new to you, I would highly recommend diving into this honest and eye-opening conversation as they share their extensive research on the biological stress cycle while offering methods of returning to a state of relaxation. 


All of this is to say that giving yourself space to breathe can help you recharge and properly evaluate your needs. It’s a surefire way to realign with caring for yourself, especially when things get overwhelming. Here are a few examples on how to begin:


  • Creating rules for yourself is a great way to thrive in an environment that is used in your personal and professional life. It is as simple as setting away messages at a specific time in the day or utilizing the Do Not Disturb feature on your phone once it hits 7pm, for example. Separate your whole self from your work self by completely severing the communication lines for a few hours in your day. And then, when you prepare for the next day, you can tackle your to-do list with a clear mind and fresh eyes.
     
  • Having physical boundaries in your home is a great way to be more disciplined about self-love. Have a work zone: a place where you take your meetings, send emails and address your tasks and responsibilities. And have a pleasure zone: a place that is dedicated to your personal life, where your work tools do not follow you.

  • I have taken to setting alarms on my phone to remind myself to do basic tasks that are essential to my well-being: for example, drinking water, eating a healthy snack, or going for a walk when I feel stagnant. These energy check-in’s are a concrete way to be serious about becoming more balanced while working from home. It can be easy to overlook the little things when the work piles up but the importance of meeting yourself halfway for care does not lessen. The biggest lesson for me over this time of quarantine is that self-love is more grounded than you’d think. It is striking the balance between flow and discipline – I think of this as setting my future self up for success! 

Photo courtesy of Lori Roberts of Little Truths Studio

 

LEAD WITH COMPASSION

Are you running on empty? When your attention is scattered and poured into deadlines and seemingly endless to-do lists, it can be hard to remember to congratulate yourself. To zoom out and look at the bigger picture, and realize how good of a job you are doing by simply showing up for your responsibilities. Here are some ways to shift your foundational thinking to allow for self-compassion and time that is sacred and carved out for your benefit and enjoyment: 


  • Engage in an activity that encourages mindfulness. With roots in Eastern tradition, mindfulness refers to the “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” It is about harnessing an ability that exists within you: the ability to take notice of your surroundings through feelings of balance and equanimity. It sounds simple but I find that this is difficult to put into practice especially when life is so fast-moving and results-driven. Instead of rushing through the process of existing, what can you take notice of on your way from point A to point B? It can be as easy as taking a few deep breaths in the morning. Noticing the way your stomach rises and falls. Peeling a fruit very slowly. It can be rooted in both movement and stillness. If you have the space and desire to get active, we also suggest looking into local studios, such as Good Space or Mosaic, who are sharing virtual movement classes for your at-home comfort and ease.

  • I’ve also been loving the app Liberate which is a subscription-based meditation tool for and by Black, Indigenous and people of colour. Created to offer meaningful and in-depth representation, the app addresses the nuance of common cultural experiences, like internalized racism and microaggressions, to offer thoughtful pathways to healing for those who may not feel seen in the wellness industry. Headspace is another well-loved digital tool for all audiences that helps promote emotional resiliency and practice. 

  • You can also apply a mindfulness technique to hobbies that help you get lost in an inner world that is separate from your work identity. Remember that phase of quarantine where everyone was making bread, crocheting and/or even rug-making? Maintaining this energy of curiosity and passion is important for self-love. We recommend our craft section for ideas on hobbies that will help you reconnect to your creative, playful self as a way to recharge after a long day at work. Get lost in an activity that is unrelated to your professional life.

  • Start a journaling practice! The Create Your Own Calm journal (available in-store at Scout and online for $22.00) is an excellent way to exercise self-reflection as it offers engaging journal prompts, inspiring quotes and intentional illustrations to help you find a little bit of peace in the midst of chaos. 

 

Photo courtesy of Headspace

LEARN FROM THE EXPERTS

Similar to the Nagoski sisters, there are many people who are coming forward to open up conversation around the importance of emotional wellness, especially within the context of hyper-productivity. Here are a few easy access pathways to those who are skipping the small talk to get deep: 


  • Reset with Liz Tran, Tessa Forrest & Vanessa Hardy has been my go-to wellness podcast as of late. This series platforms casual conversations that are centered around spirituality and well-being. The hosts come from varying backgrounds (coaching, meditations, herbalism, design, astrology) and offer their unique perspectives on topics such as career pivoting, dream interpretation and the power in releasing and healing from self-criticism. Their most recent episode on the importance of slowing down in the midst of hyperproductivity is a great place to begin if you need the motivation to begin asking real questions about your self-care practice, especially during a period where many of us now work in the same place where we seek solace and energy.

  • Available in-store and online at Scout, Merry Jane’s CBD Solution: Wellness Book ($28.95) offers a research-based breakdown on CBD and wellness. Exploring different methodologies for stress management requires deep research, time and experimentation. This book addresses “the history, the science, the politics, uses, forms, and effects—as well as answers to common questions and myths” of CBD in order to exemplify how it can be introduced into health routines, from bath oils to tinctures, as a way of impacting mood.

  • Available in-store and online at Scout, How to Do Nothing by artist, writer and educator Jenny Odell ($34.99) offers extensive research on capitalism’s impact on our mental health and understanding of productivity. “Far from the simple anti-technology screed, or the back-to-nature meditation we read so often, How to do Nothing is an action plan for thinking outside of capitalist narratives of efficiency and techno-determinism. Provocative, timely, and utterly persuasive, this book is a four-course meal in the age of Soylent.” 

And you don’t have to travel too far outside of your comfort zone or means to get some professional insight. Talking to your medical practitioner about stress management can unlock many doors, especially since it manifests in the body in so many ways. The idea of self-love floats around so easily but once you dig into the science side of it all, it becomes clear that it is extremely important to talk about. 

 

Photo courtesy of Chronicle Books

REACH OUT FOR AFFIRMATION 


It can be difficult to affirm yourself when things get tough but sometimes, a familiar face with an open and patient heart is all we need to remind us to slow down and do the work of loving ourselves. It is easy to spiral and ask yourself questions like: am I doing enough? Should I even be complaining? Do I deserve time to myself? Don’t be afraid to turn to a trusted friend to open up a dialogue about how you’ve been feeling. Or, bond over your self-love practices and encourage one another to stay consistent with the practices that keep you grounded. In the spirit of self-compassion, show gratitude to your mind, body and spirit in tangible ways and pass on the reminder to someone else who may need it during these tumultuous times. 

 

Photo courtesy of @subliming.jpg

How are you taking care of yourself these days? We would love to hear your self-love tactics and chosen methods of slowing down, grounding and managing the influx of responsibility while working from home. 


Jess K
Jess K

Author

Jess is a pug-loving Toronto based writer, currently studying English literature. She joined the Scout team last August and enjoys spending time learning about how different artists and makers express themselves through their unique crafts.

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