Working remotely is challenging in more ways than one. Mental health experts have been touting the benefits of “finding your Zen” for many years now, especially as of late. But what exactly does practicing Zen entail? This Japanese Buddhist teaching encourages finding enlightenment by simplifying your life and emphasizes living with mindfulness. Finding your Zen is easier than you think, beginning a journey to enlightenment and peace. It can easily be utilized in your work from home life to keep you focused, grateful, and relaxed, as well as give you the energy you need for some much needed neighborhood fun.
Benjamin Franklin was on the right track when he proclaimed that “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”. A healthy sleep schedule is a key component of maintaining a zen lifestyle, and greatly benefits your mental and physical well being. When you are well rested, productivity is boosted and work becomes far easier to focus on, even when you’re surrounded by the distractions found in your home. Set your alarm for an early (but reasonable) time in the AM, and take an hour or so before work to check in with yourself and set goals for the day. Waking up at an early hour on a set schedule will help prevent sleep irregularities and ensure that you are bright-eyed and ready to face whatever the day has in store for you.
Work With Intent
One of the main aspects of Zen is the concept of Intent. Put simply, intent is the practice of being conscious of every action you take in life, no matter how small. Having intent gives each decision you make meaning and importance, and helps cultivate self discipline. While it may seem like a daunting concept, his practice can easily be translated into your work life. Instead of playing things by ear and winging it, start each day with a set of goals to complete. And don’t simply finish things for the sake of checking boxes: each task should be completed with care and intent. Taking your work seriously can make a huge difference in your output, especially in a work from home environment where you are the only one in charge of yourself.
Keep It Simple
Zen is all about paring life down to its most basic elements, allowing you to focus on what matters most. And when your environment is simplified, it will be easier than ever to focus on the tasks at hand when working from home. Eliminating distractions and creating a mess-free area can open your mind and let the productivity flow. Here are a few tips for transforming a complicated home office into a Zone of Zen:
- Draw back the curtains to let natural light fill the room, and replace harsh light bulbs with ones that provide a softer ambiance. Small table lamps create a more relaxed environment than overly strong overhead lights.
- Place a white noise machine in your workspace to drown out any distracting sounds. If a machine seems like too much of a commitment, there are a number of white noise apps that will work just as well to keep you in the zone.
- Take the time to declutter your workspace. Toss any trash that’s been accumulating, and put nonessential items away in storage. Accessories such as fie trays and drawer organizers can keep your necessities out of sight until they are needed. A clear desk means a clear mind.
- Get outside! Sitting in front of a screen all day keeps you plugged in when you should be winding down. Spend an evening in your backyard relaxing by the fire, with an outdoor fire pit cover handy to keep things protected.
Take a Breath
When your workload goes from manageable to overwhelming, it may be time to step away from the desk for some deep breaths. Breathing exercises are some of the most highly recommended solutions to stress and anxiety, and are a cornerstone of living a Zen life. Even just a minute of concentrated breathing through the diaphragm can have a huge impact on stress levels by lowering heart rates and promoting a general sense of ease and relaxation. The most widely practiced breathing technique is the 4-7-8 method, which consists of the following steps:
- Breathe in through the nose for 4 seconds
- Hold breath for 7 seconds
- Breathe out through the mouth for 8 seconds, fully emptying the lungs of air
- Repeat for four cycles of breath
The 4-7-8 method has been proven to reduce stress and center yourself in your environment. Utilizing the power of breath can turn chaotic work days into peaceful ones with just a few moments of concentration. And the best part is that these can be done anywhere, from your home office to your outdoor living room. After spending some zen moments in your backyard, throw on a protective sofa couch cover so weather can be the least of your worries.
Meditation injects long-lasting benefits into our lives by lowering stress levels, improving focus, and connecting us with ourselves. When we pay attention to ourselves, we learn how to return to, and remain in, the present moment -- especially beneficial when we’re working from home. All it takes are these small steps to find your zen while working at home:
- Find a place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
- Feel your breath
- Think about what you’re feeling, and why you’re feeling that way.
- Continue breathing. In through your nose. Out through your mouth.
- Bring your mind back to the present with focus on what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
- When you’re ready, open your eyes with renewed focus on your day.