We've all had to shift our routines this year with so many of us working from home, but lately I've found myself slipping back into some not so healthy habits - checking my phone while I'm still in bed, getting a late start at work, forgetting to eat lunch on time, and not looking up from my computer until 6 or 7 at night. Maybe not all in the same day, but still, not the best habits to be in. Last week, I had an alarmingly high screen time number pop up on my summary. I'm too embarrassed to write it here, but it did get me thinking. How can I create a healthier routine that's easy to stick to and get out of this rut? I started building some of my old habits back in and practicing more mindfulness in my work day. Here's what I changed.
First off, I wanted to start waking up earlier so I could get out the door on time. I bought a new sunlamp alarm clock that would fit on my bedside shelf on the boat (sold my old one on Instagram stories and realized how many of my friends wanted to try sun lamps too!). My new sun lamp is set for 7:30AM and it's made all the difference this fall.
Every day, I take a dose of adaptogens. Our adaptogen blends are made from mushrooms and botanicals and help your body adapt to stress and stay healthy. They also reduce inflammation which is huge for overall health. For me, it's about focusing better at work, staying stress-free and energized, and an intake of antioxidants for glowing skin, so I rotate between the brain blend and the beauty blend. The ashwagandha in the brain blend is good for building immunity too. Both are delicious and I like to drink one or the other while I'm sitting down to read slack/emails and fill out my planner with tasks for the day.
One of my new goals is to take a break every couple of hours - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Even just looking up from my screen for five minutes to stretch or or going for a short walk helps immensely. It gets my brain moving again and helps me re-center and make sure what I'm doing is a good match for my priorities for the day. It's also an amazing stress reliever to get a little fresh air. Every time I notice that my shoulders are high or tense, or my jaw is clenched, I stand up, stretch a little and release any tension I'm holding in my body.
Another thing I love doing for a quick break is journaling or sketching! I keep two notebooks in my desk: our jellyfish spiral-bound (where I track my hormones and my creative/productive flow) and our Wise Mama trifecta notebook which has space for journaling on lined pages and sketching on blank pages, which I love. Every now and then I'll take a second to practice mindful sketching or journaling and break up my day with a bit of unstructured creative time.
You can find our whole journal & sketchbook collection here.
Another thing I'm doing is packing up some leftovers each night for lunch the next day. Portioning them out in these metal containers lets me grab-and-go on my way to work, and I just pop them in the toaster oven once I get there. I've heard some of my friends create a phone reminder that pops up to tell them when to break for lunch each day, but honestly I'm usually starving by noon or 1. My brain keeps telling me to eat, but the difficult part is actually putting down my work and going to reheat my leftovers. After chatting with my coworkers about this, we all have the same problem so we've started grabbing each other when it's time to eat lunch, which helps break the focus. It's been really fun having our new warehouse where we can all sit around a table and catch up and have a moment to clear our minds and reset for the afternoon. One by one, we'll all pop our metal containers into the toaster oven. Sometimes we go out for báhn mì's or the hot bar at Ballard Market, but I've been trying to eat leftovers whenever possible, both for cost savings and so we have less food waste.
In the afternoon when I sit down at my desk again, it takes me awhile to settle back into that focused mindset, so I'll plug in my headphones, listen to some music and chew some compostable gum. Using mint to enhance focus is an ancient method and it's such a simple habit that really works for me. The boost flavor has a similar effect. I really like our plant based gum because there's no plastic or filler ingredients and it's totally compostable end of life. Summer's favorite is the cinnamon, and I always keep a pack of the ginger when I go on longer sailing trips to stave off any seasickness (or hangovers!). If I get hungry again or just want a little boost of energy, I love snacking on our good news gummies. They're sugar free, perfectly portioned and totally delish.
Another thing we do as a team is automate Do Not Disturb hours for slack and emails. Slack is a great way to communicate without interrupting each other's work flow and keep track of tasks and projects across the store and warehouse, but we don't want it to distract us on our time off. We're firm believers in having a home life, so we disabled notifications after 5pm or before 9am. Sometimes I still open the app to jot down an idea or message on one of our channels, which helps keep me stress free at home too.
It's hard to shut down my laptop and head home at a decent hour when I honestly love what I do, but I find that when I leave the office on time, I'm happier, have a better night at home and an easier time cooking or cleaning up when it's my turn - and still starting fresh again tomorrow.
My biggest takeaways are getting an earlier start, taking regular breaks, and doing things to release tension and eye strain. I'm slowly building in little rhythms and reminders to create a more mindful work day. When I feel my shoulders or my jaw tense up, I try to take a deep breath, stretch a little and relax any stress I'm holding in my posture. These are some of the healthy habits I'm trying to rebuild. I hope it helps you create a more mindful work day too.