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Logging Off and Letting Go: How to Really Go Home From Work When You Work From Home

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Working from home offers so many incredible benefits, including the ability to achieve that coveted work-life balance. I don’t know about you, but for me, being able to set my own schedule is priceless.

But, there are some days when I find it’s a little harder to decompress and truly log off from a day working at home. With my office just steps away from my living room, there is always that temptation to jump back on the computer to finish up that last report or check my phone for that newest email.

While the flexibility of my work day is one of the main perks of the job, it is imperative to set some serious boundaries. Otherwise, I find my mind is always "at work” and I am far from achieving that work-life balance I’m so stoked on. (Not to mention, my body needs a real break after sitting at the desk and staring at my computer screen all day.)

So, to make certain that I maintain that true work-life balance, I follow these simple rules to log off and lounge out at the end of a day working from home. Read below to see what can work for you in your work from home job.

Clock In + Clock Out. When setting up your schedule, create your "work” hours, blocking time to answer emails, make therapy materials, work on IEPs, etc. My schedule tends to change daily, so I typically will give myself a rule to stop working at a certain time. For instance, I will tell myself that I am not allowed to check my work email after 6 pm (I will admit I sometimes need reminders from my husband because it’s so easy to sneak a peek at my phone!). Chances are, anything that comes up during "after work” hours can wait until the morning.

Unplug. Some days, I like to completely unplug from technology after work. No computer, no phone, no TV. It’s amazing what you can accomplish without the distraction of technology! Instead of mindlessly scrolling through status updates, memes, and personality quizzes (I mean, who hasn’t wanted to know what type of dessert you would be based on your Zodiac sign?) find something to do that doesn’t involve a screen.

Play with your dog, catch up on your reading, or take care of some household chores instead. These are activities that still make me feel "productive” even though they are not work related.

Treat Yo’self. The "self-care” trend has been pretty hot lately. When most think about self-care, images of long baths and at-home facials emerge. Who has time for that every day? I try to think about self-care as a part of my daily routine, especially when working in a profession where we all spend our days helping others.

Physical self-care is about taking care of your body. Take some time to get in a quick at-home workout or yoga routine. You can find free yoga videos on YouTube (my favorite is "Yoga with Adriene”). There are plenty that are shorter, ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Even a 5-minute stretch break can make a big difference after sitting in a chair all day.

Mental self-care is just as important as taking care of your body. Taking even just a few minutes after work to take some deep breaths can help you unwind when you are done working for the day. Whether it’s meditation, journaling, or practicing mindfulness, mental self-care can help when your mind starts running away with thoughts of work.

Relational self-care is all about finding support and nourishing your relationships. Whether you had a difficult IEP meeting, tough session with a student, or received criticism from a teacher, it can help to reach out and find a someone to just listen to you. Talk to your spouse or kids, call your parents, or text your best friend. Reaching out to colleagues can also be incredibly helpful; we have all been there! Having a good support system can make all the difference on those hard days.

Completing daily self-care tasks can be more difficult than it sounds. It’s easy to get caught up in other responsibilities and put yourself on the back burner. Something that has worked for me is making a sticker chart (yes, the same kind of sticker charts that we use with our students). Every day that I do something that is "just for me” I write it down on the calendar and put a sticker on that day. It helps me to have something tangible to keep track, but you should find a way that works for you!

Bask in the Sun (or the Snow). After being stuck inside all day, go out and get a breath of fresh air! It’s easy to get so involved with work, families, cooking dinner, and household chores and to forget how therapeutic it can be to just get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. No matter what you are doing, being outside can leave you feeling refreshed at the end of the day.

Take your paperwork to the porch! If you have emails to answer or notes to finish up at the end of the school day, why not take it outside? Bring your laptop or iPad out on the patio or balcony, or just open some windows if you don’t have any outdoor space. Of course, this is much more enjoyable if you are not caught in a winter storm (I’m looking at you, Bomb Cyclone).

Take a walk! This one is a no-brainer. Get some exercise by taking a walk or jog. I go on (almost) daily walks with my dog. We both get out of the house and get some exercise at the same time. Even a brisk walk around the block can be beneficial. If you live near a hiking trail, even better!

Spend some time in the backyard! You don’t have to go anywhere to enjoy being outside. Working in your garden, throwing around a frisbee with your spouse or kids, or lounging in the sun are great ways to relax and unwind after being in front of a screen all day. Natural light also gives you a dose of vitamin D (just remember your sunscreen!). Don’t have a yard? Take a trip to the nearest park with your favorite book or visit a playground with the kiddos.

Find What Works For You. While being a teletherapist is not physically strenuous, it can certainly be mentally taxing. Establishing a work schedule, getting outside, and infusing "unplugged” time and self-care routines into your day can help create a balance in your life.

As therapists, we all love what we do, but we need to take the time to care for ourselves! By making ourselves a priority, we are better able to come back to work feeling refreshed and ready to make a difference in the lives of our clients. I’m happy to share what works for me, and I invite you to take some time to think about this yourself. So, what are some of your favorite ways to relax after a long work day?

If you're interested in working for DotCom Therapy, check out our Therapist Page for more info!

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