How to achieve work-life balance through mindfulness while working from home

Work from home laptop

Humans are designed to be in rhythm. We feel ‘off’ when our rhythms are disrupted.

The reality is that Covid disrupted, and continues to disrupt, the rhythms that not only keep us well, but create the foundations for us to BE and FEEL successful.

With the disruption came lots of new rhythms that you’ve probably experienced. Two additional meetings in the place of your previous commute. Back-to-back Zoom calls. Virtual catch-ups that meant we spent more time formally engaging with colleagues and clients, making a key point to ensure they knew we were online working hard and available, losing the boundaries between home and work.

Many of these new rhythms were created mindlessly and, left unchecked, opened the door to unhealthy habits, chronic stress, overwhelm, burnout and worse. It’s no wonder that LEGO research found 7 in 10 adults regularly search for stress reducing habits. So where should you start?

It’s time to reflect and reset. After all, we can only achieve what we have energy for.

Make a list of the rhythms you have in your life. The behaviours that are recurring – whether that’s hourly, daily or weekly. If those rhythms energise you in a healthy sustainable way, keep them. If they deplete you, lose them and mindfully replace them with energising rhythms.

So here’s seven energising performance rhythms to try in the next seven days:

Sleep. Every day you wake up tired, you start the day behind. And we know that sleep is a mental health superpower. The sleep science tells us the #1 place to start is simply going to bed at the same time every night. Do this for seven nights straight and aim for the World Health Organisation recommendation of eight hours.

Breathe. Square or box breathing is an antidote to overwhelm and stress. Breathe deeply into your belly for four seconds, hold the breathe for four seconds, exhale for four and then hold for four. Five rounds and you’ll calm your parasympathetic nervous system in just 90 seconds. 

Move. Choose one meeting or conversation a day that can be done while moving. Even better if you can get outside and get some fresh air.

Micro breaks. You’ll be way more productive if you take a micro break of 10 minutes each hour. A great micro break option is to grab something tactical, like a LEGO set, and do a few steps in the construction process. They’ve actually purpose-built kits for mindfulness with the new adults Botanical collection, including a Bonsai Tree. You’ll get a dopamine hit as you see your efforts progress and it’ll calm all those thoughts rattling around your head too.

Proactive mornings. Have you had the same morning routine for years? Change things up by starting your day in a proactive way with 15 minutes device-free and focus on self-care. Before long, you’ll be making it an hour.

Play. LEGO have found 8 in 10 adults say play reduces their stress levels. Neuroscience also tells us it boosts your creativity as this type of joyful focus boosts your mood and lights up the part of your brain that is responsible for divergent thinking. Perfect if you’re stuck on a problem.

Boundaries. Set yourself some physical and/or psychological boundaries for when work starts and stops. Be sure to communicate these to your team members, encourage them to do the same, and then hold each other accountable to protecting and respecting them.

None of the above rhythms require more time, it’s about getting off autopilot and being smarter and more mindful. Set yourself up for success by incorporating these rhythms into your day, regardless of whether you’re in the office, WFH or somewhere in between.

Thoughts by Sean Hall, mindfulness expert, mental health advocate and CEO of human performance company Energx