This is the fourth of an essay series that will be published as long as social distancing is necessary. All pieces are written by Litchfield County residents. If you are interested in submitting an essay for consideration please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As we enter the second month of this unprecedented lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are having to accept a new way of living that is taking place almost exclusively in our homes.
I’m sure at this point even homebodies, like myself, have had their fill of staying home. I’ve taken to fantasizing about the first place I’ll go when Litchfield County comes alive again. Perhaps Provisions for my iced coffee with a splash of oat milk, or some butter pecan at Arethusa—and when I’m feeling particularly rebellious, it’s Sweet William Bakery for their decadent cinnamon buns.
I truly never realized the joy I received from the simple ritual of going out for a cup of coffee until I couldn’t anymore! I know I’m not alone in this. In some capacity, we’re all grieving the loss of our daily routines.
As an Interior Designer and Lifestylist, I am passionate about creating homes that support how we want to live and who we want to be. And because I’ve worked remotely for the majority of my career, I’ve made sure that my home was my sanctuary, a space that nourishes my spirit and inspires my mind. I’ve found that when I live better, I feel better, and feeling better allows me to DO better.
The importance of home has become even more salient for me, and I know it has for others as well. With everyone now living and working from home—some simultaneously managing Zoom meetings, cooking meals, and juggling their children’s education—I’m hearing more people say they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious.
So, I thought I’d share some tips that can bring some sanity and comfort back into the places in which you dwell. These tips have helped me, and my clients make our environments a space to thrive.
Zen your Home
- Create Designated Zones—Create zones in your home for work, homeschooling, and other important tasks. This not only helps to differentiate your physical space, but it aids in a mentality shift that will support you diving into those tasks more fully. Treat your designated workspace or home-schooling area like you would your actual office or classroom. Use it each day at the same time for the tasks intended, and it is sure to help minimize needless distractions and increase productivity.
- Declutter to Destress—In these uncertain times, many of us are already managing stress. By simply tackling some of those nagging home projects you’ve been putting off—that pile of papers you pass every day with dread knowing they need to be organized—you can minimize needless stress in your environment Taking care of these tasks can eliminate lingering negative energy, create more space for harmony in your home, and improve your overall wellness.
- Style it up—Beautify your space with items that you love, whether that be a well-placed lamp, some throw pillows, your favorite mementos, or my signature touch, crystal geodes. Bring in the green and boost your mood with potted plants. Personalizing your space with items that you love will carry positive energy, increase your home’s warmth, and raise your vibration too.
Create New Routines
- Adopt a Morning Routine—If you want to harness some peace of mind and tap into your power, the perfect place to start is with a morning routine. Many successful people profess the power of this practice and it can be as easy as cultivating a little stillness and quiet at the start of each day. I suggest starting each morning with the three 5’s: 5 minutes of meditation (listening), 5 Minutes of prayer (setting intentions), and 5 minutes of journaling (conversing with your higher self). Following this with some stretching or exercise will help you start the day off right!
- Get Dressed—This may seem simple, but it’s a secret those of us who’ve always worked remotely already understand. While you may be able to sit at your desk in a t-shirt and pajamas without anyone ever knowing, something about that attire relaxes the brain and can lead to decreased productivity. Getting dressed each day, even if it’s to sit at the desk in your home office, will help you mentally switch gears into work mode, and maintain some normalcy in your day-to-day routine.
- Time Blocking—Schedule your important tasks by blocking off time in your calendar, because if it’s not scheduled, it likely won’t happen! Blocking out time for breaks is highly beneficial because when sitting at our desks, we don’t breathe as deeply. So, when you typically suffer that afternoon slump, schedule a 15-30-minute break, and take it outside for some fresh air. Taking a walk and focusing on your breath and the present moment will rejuvenate you in no time!
- Pomodoro—This is a reward-based, scientifically proven method to help increase your productivity. Minimize your distractions by closing your email and shutting off the ringer on your phone, and then set a timer for 20 or 40 minutes to plow through the task you want to accomplish. Once you’ve completed the task, reward yourself with a five to ten-minute break. You can adjust the lengths of time for what works best for you and your productivity.
Make Time for Joy
- Believe it or not, the majority of my clients score feeling fulfilled and joyful lowest on personal assessments. Incorporating a little joy into your day and shifting into a more positive mindset can be as easy as taking a walk or pausing for a quick afternoon meditation.
- For those with children, these more solitary techniques may be more difficult to achieve, but there are ways to cultivate joy in your daily routine. I encourage my clients with families to employ a technique called the gratitude riff to help shift energies into a more positive place. To play, grab a ball or an item that can be tossed around, and then sit in a circle on the floor. The person who has the ball starts by saying something they’re grateful for, and then passes or tosses it to another person in the circle for their turn. This can be played for as many rounds as you like, but it’s sure to elevate moods and remind all of us that even during uncertain times, we have much to be grateful for!