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When COVID-19 hit the world on a larger scale and most of us transitioned to working from home, many people were excited that they “got” to work from the comfort of their home, wearing whatever was comfortable, and shortening each commute to the distance between their bed and their computer. But, a year stuck in confined spaces with family or roommates without any safe options for escape can make anyone go a little stir-crazy.

Here are some helpful tips to manage your stress levels from people who were working from home even before the pandemic!

#1: Make the Most of the Advantages

After a while, it’s easy to lose sight of the advantages to working from home, so remind yourself of them by making the most of your time. Got a long conference call that’s mostly a discussion? Why don’t you put on a headset and get some laundry done or wash your dishes? You’ll accomplish two tasks in half the time and when you’re done working for your paycheck that day, you won’t have to start work on your living space!

One big advantage that I see is kitchen access. No need to pack a lunch or rush breakfast – if you feel like throwing together an Instagram-worthy grain bowl or frying up an omelet, do it! Everything you need is right there; you don’t have to drive to a busy restaurant and wait for an expensive meal. Cooking saves you money on takeout and gives your brain a designated break from work to focus on a different task, which results in something delicious.

#2: Stay Active

With a lot of gyms still closed, it’s become easier and easier to spend most of your day sitting down staring at a screen, but when you have a customer call that frustrates you or a project that has taken a turn in the wrong direction, what do you do?

I’m grateful to have an adorable puppy dog who is always up for a walk around the neighborhood. This time outside gives us both some much-needed exercise, and gives me time to mentally process the problem and decide on a solution. Of course, when the weather just refuses to cooperate, a stationary bike or treadmill are great substitutes.

Do whichever activity you enjoy that helps you burn off that excess emotional energy, including random dance parties. I’ve found that at any time in my life when a problem seems unmanageable or people seem to be deliberately obtuse, getting 30 minutes of activity is like Marie Kondo for my brain. I can return to the issue with a clear path to move forward.

#3: Switch it Up

One of the biggest benefits to working from home is the ability to incorporate variety into your workday. Is the sun shining for the first time in months? Take your laptop outside, find a patio lounger or porch swing and soak up some much-needed Vitamin D while you finish those project documents. Is your home office chair not feeling as comfortable after 40+ hours a week for the past 12 months? Spend a day at your kitchen table or with a lap desk on your couch. These locations aren’t right for the long term, but a day here and there can be a refreshing environment to kick-start your motivation to be productive.

What if you need to develop some new project idea or design, and all you’ve accomplished so far is staring blankly at your computer screen? Take it old-school! Grab a notebook and your favorite pen, find a comfortable and inspiring environment like your backyard or a nearby park bench and just start writing. You’ll be amazed how much easier it is to brainstorm ideas when you’re away from your technology, even if just for an hour or two.

The key to enjoying any work situation, whether it’s a company cubicle or a desk set up in your guest room, is to stay focused on the benefits and not let the challenges pull you down. It’s easy to get hung up on all the reasons why work is a struggle, but if you take the time to try some of these tips, you might find some new reasons to enjoy working from home that you hadn’t considered before!

If you’re looking for more helpful resources for working from home, check out: