Avoiding the Sane-Drain:

Photo by Marish on Shutterstock.com

Working in isolation has been interesting. My daily life oscillates between two different realities; from dream remote work life to a post-apocalyptic world that somehow kept Netflix going.

My ability to manage my work environment was put to the test in late April, when I was accepted into the Flatiron School Software Engineering Bootcamp and had 80+ hours of prepwork to complete in just over a week. In response to this challenge, I decided to finally utilize a handful of the many work-life balance tips I had heard and immediately disregarded over the years. I am happy to report that not everything labeled #mindfulness is empty click-bate.

What follows are some of the practices that helped me prepare for and start the bootcamp with a positive mindset and healthy work environment. The best part is, these exercises can be done with minimal effort and you may notice results immediately. None of this is coming from a “look at me, I figured it out” position. These are three practices that dramatically improved my reality and I am happy to pass them along to anyone that finds themselves in a situation similar to what I described above.

Photo by HENCE THE BOOM on Unsplash

Take Ten

The most important activity you can include in your daily schedule is to set 10 minutes aside for yourself. Sit in silence, with your eyes closed, and simply breathe. Set reminders, do it first thing in the morning, have an accountability buddy . . . just make it happen.

This is a chance for you to connect with yourself in a meaningful way. You may be thinking “the last person I need to spend more time with, after two months in lock-down, is myself.” Yes but consider the type of activities and quality of time you have been spending with yourself. Nothing can take the place of you carving out some time and truly being alone with nothing but the sound of your own breath to guide you.

[To get started with simple guided meditations before you take the training wheels off and go at it alone, visit Headspace]

Napoleon in proper seated posture

Sitting 101

Is something crazy happening with your coffee tolerance? No matter how many cups you have, you find yourself utterly pep-less. Have you considered adding an extra scoop of grounds to the pot, figuring out how to combine the contents of two Keurig pods, or even googling “household chemicals possible stimulant safe?” Well, the solution is more simple and significantly safer: sit up straight.

How you sit and maintain your posture impacts every part of your body. Slouching inhibits the natural circulation throughout your body and keeps you in a consistently lethargic state. Sitting up “straight” allows for proper flow of your circulatory, respiratory, and digestive systems. When I say “straight”, I actually mean just the opposite: you should always sit in a way that allows all three natural curves of your spine to be properly supported.

Give it a shot and see how much more endurance and focus you have throughout the day. Circling back to “Take Ten,” one of my favorite meditation techniques involves flowing through body and making a note of anything that may be bothering you. Bring this awareness with you for the rest of the day and you will begin to notice how different posture impacts your mood and energy.

[More tips and trick on maintaining good seated posture from Very Well Health]

Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn on Unsplash

20–20–20

Even if you are not taking a coding bootcamp, you more than likely have a job that requires you to stare at a computer screen for long stretches of the day. This does not even include the amount of time you spend in front of a screen after work. If you just read the preceding sentences and said “yup, that’s me,” you are most likely headed for the land or eye-fatigue (if you have not already arrived).

Eye fatigue symptoms include: headaches, blurry vision, dry eyes, and light sensitivity. Some people swear by the benefits of blue-blocker glasses in preventing eye fatigue. However, before you jump on Amazon and start combing through reviews to find the best brand of blue-blockers, there is a simple eye exercise worth trying first: 20–20–20. Every 20 minutes, spend 20 seconds, focusing on something that is at least 20 feet away. That is all there is to it.

[More about 20–20–20 on Healthline]

No matter what tips or tricks you utilize to improve your mood and work environment, consistency is key. As I mentioned in “Take Ten,” set reminders, find an accountability partner to try these activities with, or whatever you need to do to make it happen and realize the long term benefits.

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Chase

Chase

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Software Engineer // Coding, Laughing, TV, Movies, Art, Music, Food, Drink & Boston Terrier Enthusiast