Self-care and the female remote worker

So I did my toes the other day for the first time in ages.

That’s an opening line I never thought I’d be saying ever or shouting into the endlessness of the Internet, but it’s the truth.

I’m about to hit my one-year anniversary of remote work. It’s been a bit of a rough year moving my family back home, readjusting to island life and dealing with immigration policies and legalities.

I know you’re are probably thinking “how tough can it be to adjust to living on an island”, but trust me it does take a change in psyche, no you cannot order anything you desire online and have it in two days with Amazon Prime, yes stores are closed on Sundays…a year later and this still baffles my hubby.

Some of the changes have been welcomed as we cast off our rigid and hurried lifestyles like a snake shedding old skin and slowed our mental clocks to “island time”. Culture shock is a very real thing, even to a repatriate.

With all of that and the nuances of any move, the packing, unpacking, finding our son a new daycare, and the apartment search, yes it’s safe to say it’s been a trying year, but at least I didn’t have to add job search to the list.

With the busy-ness of everyday life it’s easy to see how possible it is to go a bit overboard with the “perk” of not having to deal with face-to-face encounters while working remotely.

It starts innocently enough…

 

“No one will see me anyway”, you think as you skip doing your hair one morning as you are running late so that you have time to make a strong pot of coffee.

 

“Why waste a nice outfit?” you ask as you flop into your chair to start your workday a few months later.

 

My personally most over-used phrase is “I’m too busy to (insert anything remotely self indulgent here), I don’t have time for that”.

 

The cycle has begun.

 

And the truth is, ain’t nobody got time for that.

I get it, I’ve been there or rather, I am there, as my longtime unpolished toes would suggest. To be really honest, I’ve been in this cycle of “too busy for me” since becoming a mom 4 years ago – and I know this, no matter how much I will myself to believe that the ongoing “athleisure trend” is the reason for sweatpants taking over my wardrobe.

The last year of working remotely has taken things to a new level, a new high of general dishevelment that has even managed to sneak its way into our car. A few weeks ago when my van’s side door was sliding open I caught myself trying to use my body as a human shield to keep the other persons in the parking lot from seeing the amount of sand that littered my floor, along with empty water bottles and endless knickknacks. I knew something had to be done.

My intervention came by accident as a part of the passion project I started a few weeks ago and was helped along by the week I took off from work for my birthday.

You can find more details about my passion project here, but to sum up I wanted to use my Nikon more and that somehow morphed into me photographing a capsule wardrobe that I’m creating. I took an afternoon and create a capsule wardrobe for myself and went as far as photographing the looks that I would wear each day. Most of the outfits include the jewelry, makeup and shoes as well; so getting dressed in the morning is a no brainer.

The color I painted my toes was decided on by the look that I started off the week with – the same color that a few days later gave me such a good feeling when I saw it while hurriedly undressing in the bathroom.

Life is busy, now more than ever, but as a mom, a female remote worker, or none of the above, it is vital that you take care of yourself.

Here are 7 tips for adding self-care to your schedule.

1. Make the time

You find the time to complete numerous things for everyone else, yet for some reason we assume that the 45 minutes we invest in ourselves to do our nails (or browse social media) will be the thing that sends the earth spinning off of it’s axis.

Two things that help me find time in an already stuffed schedule is prepping and batching.

Prepping
Whether it’s prepping Overnight Oats or as simple as making a list of items that we need from the grocery store, most of us do some amount of organizational work to get the family meals in order.

Take the time to do a bit of prepping for your self-care routine so that you have the items to pamper yourself on hand when you need them. Invest in a new set of bath bombs or that nail polish color that you have been eyeing for months now.

Batching
If you blog or have an online business I’m sure you are aware of this process – instead of planning one Instagram post a day, you plan your posts for the entire week which ends up freeing up a lot of your time and as an additional benefit can also create a more cohesive feel to your posts.

What self-care routines can you batch together to get more out of your busy schedule? For example as your pedicure dries you start your facemask, then as the mask sets begin your hair-care regimen. Do you have any other ideas for batching self-care? Comment below.

Make it a part of your schedule; for example, hair, eyebrows and shaving on Sunday evenings. Does it sound extreme to have to put so much thought into taking care of you? Get organized and vow to try it out for a month or two and note the results.

2. Catch some zzz’s

Getting enough rest is essential so that you’re not a cranky bitch. You know it’s true. If you are fatigued you will be snappy towards your significant other, your kids and your coworkers…they can feel it through Skype. #emojigamestrong

Ying-Hui Fu, a human geneticist at the University of California-San Francisco says that to operate optimally, 90 percent of the human population needs somewhere between seven to nine hours a night. He estimates that only a very small portion of the population – about 3 -5% need less than 6.5 hours.

3. Let it go

Minimize everything – your priorities, your obligations, and your wardrobe. We know that too many choices are overwhelming but sometimes it’s a fight to get away from all the “stuff”.

A year ago, a month or so before leaving New York, I had a legit breakdown from the amount of emails that were littering my inbox everyday – Groupons, one-day-sale’s, and so, so many other coupons and discounts had resulted in thousands of unread emails. I unsubscribed from loads of sites and deleted every single email in my inbox – which is crazy…really who does that? I told myself if it wasn’t on my desktop, a USB, Dropbox or Google Drive already then it was just too bad.

I cannot say that that one event changed my life single handedly but it was amazing to not have that eyesore of a red bubble lurking on my phone’s home screen alerting me of endless things vying for my attention.

I think only about twice in the last year have I needed to email a company or person and ask them to check their sent messages for something of value that I deleted.

The craziest part is that a year later my unread emails have crept back up into the thousands and I am noticing companies that I have not ordered from in years (and years) still reaching out. Also recently, web developers sometimes, does that happen after you purchase a domain name or is it some LinkedIn thing? What is up with that? I’m probably about ready to do the purge again.

4. Slow it down

I am the worst at this. I feel that there is just never enough time to get anything done, even though everything has to get done…and then most don’t.

The other day while taking a shower (not sure why I have so many realizations in the bathroom – I’m guessing it’s because it the only time that I’m ever alone for more than 2 minutes.)

So I’m in the shower thinking about all the stuff I have to get done, and I’m not sure entirely what brought me back to reality but I realized that I was just completely not there. I was 100% on autopilot, but the results weren’t a dazed and dreamy state, I was scrubbing myself franticly. To the naked (hahaha) eye, it probably looked like I was trying to wash up after working at a slaughterhouse all day, there was just no love. No wonder I was getting out of the shower just as frazzled as I went in.

Since that day I am making more of an effort to slow down, quicker does not mean better and also to be present.

5. Add some movement

Ok, no wait this is the one. I’m the worst at this…that is probably why I saved it for last. I can’t look it in the eye quite yet.

I have started and stopped for 4 years now. Stopped more than started. I’ve tried several apps, but lose interest quickly. I know I want to paddleboard, but renting can get expensive, plus then I have to plan in advance when I want to board. One day I will invest in buying a paddleboard for myself.

I should start a donation page.

I know I need to make exercising a priority. Maybe after I complete my capsule wardrobe challenge I will start a challenge around exercising.

Can anyone recommend a good one?

There are loads of reasons to add exercise into your weekly routine including, releasing stress, giving you energy and warding off diseases.

6. Stay connected (IRL if possible)

This is a bit of a challenge for many new remote workers (and I talk on it more here), it can be super hard to find a balance between work life and home life when your work is constantly eyeing you from that folder on your desktop. The easiest way to combat this is getting out of the house, whether it’s for an afternoon of family fun or brunch with your bestie, there are so many benefits to getting outdoors and seeing actual human faces – not avatars and updates.

7. Take your sick days

I read this one on my friend Katy’s blog recently and thought it was so true for remote workers. I think a good amount of remote workers work when they are sick; it’s probably even one of your selling points as you talk to your boss about the benefits of leaving the office.

“Oh yeah, I’ll be able to get so much more work done. Think about all the days that I can work from home and not risk getting everybody in the office sick.” While you are well intentioned, and it’s great that you are concerned about work and deadlines the reality is that your employee needs you at your best so that you can perform your best.

For the love of God, take your sick days you earned them.

 

The world is a rough place, living can be tough but we have to show compassion to everyone, including ourselves. How do you treat yourself? Are you giving yourself the grace to be human – to be sensitive to your own needs and making the time to unwind?

You are your own most important client. Take the time to treat yourself as the M.V.P. When you are in tiptop form, your mind and body will thank you – your family and coworkers will probably thank you as well because deep down you know that when you are aren’t happy, everybody suffers.

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10 thoughts

  1. Kya, this is exactly what I needed to hear! It’s so important to take care of yourself, especially when you work remotely. These are all great tips, especially about sleep. I try to channel Arianna Huffington about sleep. Haha Happy Remot-aversery!! <3

    1. ahhh i need to join Arianna Huffington’s #sleeprevolution. I like that she acknowledges that the lack of sleep is a sign of chaos and not a badge of honor…I think i fall for that one all the time.

  2. As someone who also doesn’t do their toes often, I know I’m lacking in self-care when I finally make it to yoga and on the first forward bend I really SEE my toes for the first time. Gah. But then I’ll make the point to treat myself to a pedi and make time for some meeeee!! 🙂

    I also recently purged my closet following this hilarious flow chart from Peter Nguyen’s minimalism site and it was soooo cathartic!! It felt so good I purged like 8GB of crap from my gmail 😀 You are not alone!

    1. I am trying to check out Peter Nguyen’s flow chart but keep getting distracted by all his cool outfits lol. I will definitely look into it as I feel my purging came out of necessity as the result of moving out of the country. It was more of a sacrifice to the remote-work gods in hopes of safe travels rather than a planned lifestyle shift.

  3. GIRL! You are talking directly to me!

    I work a 9-5 and run a business on the side, plus I have a partner and a child. I feel like self-care just usually isn’t something I have time for, and I make excuses all the time for how busy I am. This post is right on time!

    I really appreciate the bit about batching! I hadn’t even considered that I could batch things together like that and find ways to prioritize self-care the way I would my Instagram. That advice is so on point! Also, “Let It Go” is something that I’m learning but I could be way better at. I have a ton of emails in my inbox that I’m planning on reading later…Lord knows I’m never going to get to them. I need to just tell myself it’s okay to delete them and then actually hit ‘delete.’

    1. Yes, the old “I’ll read this later” email trap, I fall for it daily even though I know that anything that gets pushed past the first page of my inbox will never see the light of day again.

      You sound like a busy lady!

      I always find myself repeating the quote “do the work that others won’t, so that you can have the life that others can’t”…that quote will single-handedly be the one that causes my work induced heart-attack one day.

      I’m glad you found use of my blogging, I feel like I write primarily for myself more of an open diary so that I can remind myself that I do know the right thing, even if I don’t always DO the right thing.

  4. Thank you so much for this Kya! It’s a perfectly timed reminder to take some time for self-care, I have been neglecting this aspect of my work-from-home life.

    1. I’m glad to remind you Tracy. It’s so easy to become neglectful with the daily in’s and out’s of life. Thankfully, a lack of self-care doesn’t signify a lack of self-love!

  5. My toes are a mess right now and I haven’t gotten my hair cut in like a year! Gah! Yes to all of this! I’m stuck in a terrible trap of waking up and not even showering until like noon sometimes because I don’t see anyone! Remote life weeee! I really like the idea of batching self-care, I’m definitely going to have to think on this one a bit. First thing that came to mind was reading in the tub with a glass of wine (why do all separate when you can do them together? haha)! Also, if you find a good exercise challenge can you let us know?! I’ve tried like a million of them and none stick. I have been trying to walk more in the mornings and I always feel so good after!

    PS Yes to those domains, they’ve been emailing and calling me for weeks grrrr!

    Love your posts, you’re hilarious and always helpful 🙂

  6. “Getting enough rest is essential so that you’re not a cranky bitch.”

    And that’s where you got me. Go put that on some pajama sets and sleep masks and monetize your blog.

    Seriously, self-care is so important, and so many of us are GREAT at ignoring our needs while taking care of everyone else’s. Thank you for a timely reminder. I’m gonna go do something with my sad-looking toes.

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