When you work from home, it’s very easy to get caught in unhealthy patterns, and it takes time to find your rhythm.
When I first started working from home, I was living in far north China with my fiancé (now husband), and there were minimal distractions. Television wasn’t a problem because we didn’t speak much Mandarin and there weren’t any English channels in our city – we only watched DVDs we bought from the markets. We only knew a small group of people in the city so there was never anyone popping in unannounced. In winter the temperature dropped to -30 degrees (Celsius) and lower so we didn’t go out much and when we did it wasn’t for very long.
This isolation left me with plenty of time, and being in such an amazing place provided me with plenty of inspiration, so I spent the days writing, creating and connecting online.
Fast forward to now. We’ve been back home in Melbourne, Australia for ten months, we’re married, and I’m still working from home – only now home is a lovely little apartment around the corner from my family. Finding my rhythm here has been a bit more difficult.
I absolutely love being able to create my own schedule, spend entire weekdays hanging out with my Mum or friends, close my laptop and go for a walk whenever I need a break, and devote more time to reading, painting, cooking and learning. It’s a freedom I’m so immensely grateful for and sometimes I still can’t believe it’s mine.
But, as Eleanor Roosevelt said, “With freedom comes responsibility.”
I’m completely responsible for myself. Everything about my work – my business, my impact, and my results – is all up to me. As terrifying as that sometimes is to me, it also ignites a sense of excitement and enthusiasm. It’s empowering to know that I choose my work, my day, and my life.
So it’s important that I make sure to stay empowered, inspired, focused, energized and nurture love within myself so that other women can connect with these qualities through my work.
Over time I have learned what I need to do regularly in order to show up as my best self, not just at work, but in all areas of my life. (By regularly, I mean every day or at least every other day).
By choosing love and releasing fear, everything I do – from business and marketing to art, writing and spending time with my loved ones – comes from love. This is always a journey, a work in progress, but I know that if I stay connected to the infinite love within myself there is never anything to fear. The following activities help me stay connected to this love.
For years, I’ve suffered very painful migraines at least once or twice a week. They last all day and leave me feeling ill, tired and grumpy, and make it impossible to get much work done because the light of my laptop screen aggravates it. Recently though, I’ve realised that doing yoga in the morning prevents migraines from occurring. Now, I get maybe one or two a month and they aren’t nearly as intense as they used to be.
As if that isn’t enough reason to do yoga everyday, it also just makes me feel so good. When I do yoga, I feel strong, I feel flexible, I feel graceful, I feel healthy… I feel.
Eating Well + Cooking.
This one is the toughest. I’m vegan and I also do my best to avoid gluten and sugar, so I always need to make sure I have lots of healthy, nutritious food at home. This means during the day I eat lots of fruits, vegetables (usually in the form of green juices) and leftovers from dinner the night before.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not too strict on myself. My favourite food is pizza, and I happen to live near a place that makes vegan, gluten free pizzas, so every Friday is pizza night!
My husband and I do a lot of cooking together, which is so much fun! We make vegan nachos and other yummy meals, as well as vegan desserts. There’s no reason eating well can’t be delicious!
Working from home is awesome, but sometimes I go a bit crazy sitting inside all day and just need to get out. Even just going for a walk around the block is enough to clear my head and get in touch with nature.
Spending time offline and away from the computer is so important to my health and sanity. Every Friday afternoon, I set an email auto-responder explaining that weekends are email free for me and I’ll respond on Monday. The freedom and relief this brings is wonderful.
Before I committed to taking this time to disconnect from the online world, I found myself checking my email constantly. I’d be out with my family or friends, or spending time with my husband, and checking my email on my iPhone instead of enjoying the moment with the people I love. Because so much of my work involves emails, every time I check it; I’m working. Checking it so often left me feeling like all I did was work.
Now, I commit to being email-free from Friday afternoon to Monday morning, and I do my best to get offline every weeknight too. On weekends I also avoid Facebook and Twitter, but I do use Instagram because it’s so much fun!
Prayer + Meditation.
I’m not really a religious person – I don’t consider myself a follower of any one particular religion – but I still feel the need to pray and connect with the Divinity within myself. (I’ve only recently come to feel comfortable with prayer, and I have to credit that to Gabrielle Bernstein and her book Spirit Junkie, which I’ve been reading recently.)
Taking the time, even just five minutes a day, to light a candle, sit and connect with my Inner Guide brings so much clarity into my heart, mind and life.
I love to read. I especially enjoy books on spirituality, self-development, and autobiographies. There’s just something about the act of turning off the TV and sitting down with a good book and a cup of chai tea that makes me feel so empowered and in the moment.
It doesn’t get much more relaxing than lighting some candles and incense and soaking in a hot bubble bath with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine) and a book. My bathtub is like my temple, it’s my own sacred space where I can go to relax, be silent, breathe and just enjoy the peace.
Even though right now my work is writing, I don’t really consider myself a writer. I’m an artist, right down to the depths of my soul. Painting is my passion; it’s like meditation to me. It heals my spirit and opens my heart.
Who doesn’t love a good belly laugh? It’s amazingly healing for the mind, body and soul, and it brings people together like nothing else. I’ve shared laughter with family, friends, strangers on trains and even people who didn’t speak the same language as me. Laughter is Universal, contagious and available to all of us all the time. It’s one of life’s most precious gifts and I consider it a necessity for a happy, healthy life.
Doing these things as often as possible allows me to connect with my truest, most authentic self and brings more joy and peace into my daily life.
I’m sure over time this list will change as I change and grow as I grow, but right now these are the things that make up the rhythm of my home.
Jen Saunders, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Wild Sister Magazine, lives with her afro-haired hippie husband in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. As a painter, writer and Empowerment Artist, Jen is passionate about inspiring women to love themselves, follow their hearts and change the world. She loves to paint, read, cook and dreams of living in a cabin by the ocean, surrounded by love, laughter, paint, veggie gardens, animals and rainbow children. She blogs at My Smiling Heart, where she shares her art and bares her soul.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.