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Working From Home
The Latest
Published Wednesday Mar 18, 2020 by Brittany Raine

Working from Home: How to Create a Home Office Oasis—and Increase Productivity

Personal Growth
Perspective
Renewal

It’s a digitally-driven world, and if you’re an employee, you’re probably working from home right now. The daily schedule for a WFH employee has quickly become redefined. Let's look at the home office: The desk is the kitchen table. The break room, whatever room you feel like that day. Zoom is the new meeting room and workplace. And your fellow employee helping you with time management and knocking your desk lamp over may have 4 paws and more concerned with finding the sun than any other task at hand. In this day and age, how can you organize your at-home workspace to be a beacon of productivity, a flexible environment, and most of all a room you actually want to commute to for work each day? 

Whether you’re working in your studio apartment, remotely meeting in your mega-mansion, completing a task in a tiny home or discussing your job with your employer from your parents' house, we've put together the following tips in an employee guide to working from home, retaining productivity, keeping focus, and finding a workspace that keeps you focused (and accomplished).  

Desk
Dedicate (and decorate) an “office” area.  

While all of us might not have an at-home desk or office for our work from home jobs, it’s essential to have an appropriate working area that is both productive and flexible. Regardless of space size, establishing a motivational, no-nonsense workplace will help create personal and professional boundaries and keep your focus on track, task list in order, and work in order. Since you're working remotely, treat this area like you would if your job was still at the office—organize it regularly, maybe a file cabinet, a motivational "I'm the boss" sign, etc. You know what we're talking about. Trust us, you’ll feel even more official when you take your next video conference call.   
  

1
Desk
Dedicate (and decorate) an “office” area.  

While all of us might not have an at-home desk or office for our work from home jobs, it’s essential to have an appropriate working area that is both productive and flexible. Regardless of space size, establishing a motivational, no-nonsense workplace will help create personal and professional boundaries and keep your focus on track, task list in order, and work in order. Since you're working remotely, treat this area like you would if your job was still at the office—organize it regularly, maybe a file cabinet, a motivational "I'm the boss" sign, etc. You know what we're talking about. Trust us, you’ll feel even more official when you take your next video conference call.   
  

Window view
Let the natural light in.   

A benefit of natural light is to alleviate any angst you may have from being indoors. Choose a space to work that offers natural light—and fresh air, if the weather allows. You won’t have to deal with those flickering fluorescent office lights, and you’ll reap the real benefit of natural light—upping your Vitamin D intake, warding off seasonal depression, making you happier, and your space, brighter. Opening the shades will keep you connected to the outside world and invite a little nature into your home. Remember to have a backup spot, though, in case backlighting becomes an issue when you’re on video. 

2
Window view
Let the natural light in.   

A benefit of natural light is to alleviate any angst you may have from being indoors. Choose a space to work that offers natural light—and fresh air, if the weather allows. You won’t have to deal with those flickering fluorescent office lights, and you’ll reap the real benefit of natural light—upping your Vitamin D intake, warding off seasonal depression, making you happier, and your space, brighter. Opening the shades will keep you connected to the outside world and invite a little nature into your home. Remember to have a backup spot, though, in case backlighting becomes an issue when you’re on video. 

dog in kitchen
Standup, disconnect, and schedule Savasana.  

When you’re working from home, and your commute is from your bedroom to your home office, it’s easy to get sucked into sitting all day—heads down at your desk going through your work email and never leaving your home office. Try creating a “zen zone,” adjacent to your workspace, but within sight (it will remind you to take a break). Roll out a yoga mat/blanket/towel and surround it with whatever helps you to focus and be present—no work materials allowed. Take advantage of the wellness space you’ve created by closing your computer at least two times a day to get working on a few yoga poses (these seven are fantastic) and take advantage of these ahh-mazing stretches. Your mind and body will thank you.  

3
dog in kitchen
Standup, disconnect, and schedule Savasana.  

When you’re working from home, and your commute is from your bedroom to your home office, it’s easy to get sucked into sitting all day—heads down at your desk going through your work email and never leaving your home office. Try creating a “zen zone,” adjacent to your workspace, but within sight (it will remind you to take a break). Roll out a yoga mat/blanket/towel and surround it with whatever helps you to focus and be present—no work materials allowed. Take advantage of the wellness space you’ve created by closing your computer at least two times a day to get working on a few yoga poses (these seven are fantastic) and take advantage of these ahh-mazing stretches. Your mind and body will thank you.  

music
Turn up the tunes. 

Sitting in complete silence, tapping away on your laptop, or be dialed into conference calls all day can weigh on you, especially if you’re coming from a lively work environment. If you’re alone and WFH, take advantage of that Bluetooth speaker or record player by tuning in and jamming out to some upbeat songs. Spontaneous dance party, anyone? Whether it’s turning up Tycho’s futuristic, multi-sensory musical experience, belting it out to Celine, bouncing to Biggie, or rocking to the Rolling Stones, trying diving into new (and old) playlists—we have quite a few WFH faves. You might even find working to music more powerful and invigorating than that fifth cup of coffee you’re sipping on.

4
music
Turn up the tunes. 

Sitting in complete silence, tapping away on your laptop, or be dialed into conference calls all day can weigh on you, especially if you’re coming from a lively work environment. If you’re alone and WFH, take advantage of that Bluetooth speaker or record player by tuning in and jamming out to some upbeat songs. Spontaneous dance party, anyone? Whether it’s turning up Tycho’s futuristic, multi-sensory musical experience, belting it out to Celine, bouncing to Biggie, or rocking to the Rolling Stones, trying diving into new (and old) playlists—we have quite a few WFH faves. You might even find working to music more powerful and invigorating than that fifth cup of coffee you’re sipping on.

Plug in and power up the diffuser. 

In a time of change, uncertainty, and chaos, stress can manifest in many ways. It’s essential to find calm in your every day, and that can be hard when you’re dealing with everything—including panicked co-workers and endless virtual meetings. So, what better way to clear the negative air than with essential oils? From boosting your immune system, to managing stress, to increasing your overall mood, a few drops in your diffuser can make a huge difference. And if you’re like me and think it’s never too early for pumpkin spice everything, check out these blends. Plug in your diffuser within a few feet of your WFH workspace for optimal soothing scents, all workday long.

5
Plug in and power up the diffuser. 

In a time of change, uncertainty, and chaos, stress can manifest in many ways. It’s essential to find calm in your every day, and that can be hard when you’re dealing with everything—including panicked co-workers and endless virtual meetings. So, what better way to clear the negative air than with essential oils? From boosting your immune system, to managing stress, to increasing your overall mood, a few drops in your diffuser can make a huge difference. And if you’re like me and think it’s never too early for pumpkin spice everything, check out these blends. Plug in your diffuser within a few feet of your WFH workspace for optimal soothing scents, all workday long.

desk plants
Bring the outdoors, in.

A little green never hurt anybody, especially when being inside is becoming the new norm. Make your WFH experience an urban oasis with (drumroll, please) plants! Succulents, ferns, aloe, a plethora of foliage—the list goes on and on. Plants will freshen your air and give you a little *extra* company as you WFH. Where our plant ladies at? Try contacting your local nursery or flower shop to see if they are open and schedule a quiet time to swing by and support your neighborhood business. If going outside right now isn’t possible for you, check out brands like The Sill to find a plant (or two) that can be delivered right to your door. And if you have a brown thumb—hey, we aren’t judging—search for some faux greenery on Amazon. Real or fake, plants can help add a little color to your space (and give your co-workers plant envy on those Zoom calls). Don’t forget a desk-sized one for your new WFH workspace!   


How are you building your WFH sanctuary? We want to know! Please share your tips, tricks, and creative ideas when it comes to making your home happening, and tag @mindbody on Instagram! 

6
desk plants
Bring the outdoors, in.

A little green never hurt anybody, especially when being inside is becoming the new norm. Make your WFH experience an urban oasis with (drumroll, please) plants! Succulents, ferns, aloe, a plethora of foliage—the list goes on and on. Plants will freshen your air and give you a little *extra* company as you WFH. Where our plant ladies at? Try contacting your local nursery or flower shop to see if they are open and schedule a quiet time to swing by and support your neighborhood business. If going outside right now isn’t possible for you, check out brands like The Sill to find a plant (or two) that can be delivered right to your door. And if you have a brown thumb—hey, we aren’t judging—search for some faux greenery on Amazon. Real or fake, plants can help add a little color to your space (and give your co-workers plant envy on those Zoom calls). Don’t forget a desk-sized one for your new WFH workspace!   


How are you building your WFH sanctuary? We want to know! Please share your tips, tricks, and creative ideas when it comes to making your home happening, and tag @mindbody on Instagram! 

Brittany Raine MINDBODY
Written by
Brittany Raine
Consumer Content Program Manager
About the author
A free-spirited farmgirl from New York, Brittany traded her job as a journalist and newspaper editor for the San Diego sunshine. Brittany now leads the curation of all creative content. There are rumors she was Middle Earth's warrior elven queen in a past life.
woman with crystal bowl
The Latest
Published Tuesday May 19, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Top Breathing Exercises for Anxiety and Depression and The New Normal

Meditation
Renewal
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

Inhale. 
 
 
Have you been feeling it? The big emotion floating around the last few weeks is the Big Anxiety. Coupled with the stress of what the COVID-19 pandemic has bought for millions of people, disturbed wellness routines, and worry, we have a recipe to create massive damage to ourselves. 
 
 
Exhale. 
 
 
Adjusting to the new normal, with social distancing practices in place and adapting to precautions and routines, may be the root of even more anxiousness for many as we’re navigating uncharted territories.  


Long-term anxiety and stress can harm our bodies 

During times of high stress, our bodies experience a physiological strain, where essentially everything from our heart, muscles, blood, and energy have to work harder than needed in order to keep functioning at a minimum. Our body’s natural processes, like breathing, can get compromised, lessening the healing functions of the nervous system, and overworking our adrenal system. Stress management is almost non-existent. This overtaxing of the body disrupts the natural flow of energy and resources, and puts us in something known as the “fight or flight” mode. In this mode, we are constantly deciding if there is some kind of real danger and how to survive it. We feel these signals when our heart rate and blood pressure rise, our stress responses like sweating and either constricted or super fast breathing occur, and our feel-good hormones become compromised. 
  
As we process anxiety, not only do we mentally and emotionally feel the repercussions, we also physically confuse our systems that are doing their best to naturally heal us. Staying in a state of continued anxiety with an overactive sympathetic nervous system can be incredibly damaging to your health, even if it is a small amount of stress that collects over time. Stress suppresses our immunity, digestion, deep breathing, disrupts sleep, and eating patterns, impacts mood, energy levels, and much more.  


We are holding our breath

Studies show that over 50% of adults are essentially holding their breaths. They do a shallow type of breathing known as thoracic breathing, where you breathe lightly into your chest instead of into your diaphragm. For example, notice how you’re breathing right now. You’re likely holding your breath to some extent and you’re probably not breathing much at all. If you’re asked to partake in a deep breathing exercise now, you’ll puff up your chest and shoulders, and empty out your stomach. Guilty? 
  
If you’ve ever seen a baby breathe or the breathing technique of someone in deep sleep, you’ll notice that their bellies rise and fall; the oxygen goes directly into a natural deep belly breath. Adults, however, have become acclimated to holding our breaths without meaning to. When we can slow down and practice deep breathing, we send physical and neurological signals through our entire body that asks us to rest.  


Breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety

The great news is that there are easy breathing exercises we can do at home that do not take a lot of time or effort. An incredible tool that anyone can use in times of high stress is remembering to inhale and exhale. Yes, breathing. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recommended breathwork not simply as an immunity building tool, but as a way to balance emotional and mental wellbeing. Deep breathing and other breathwork improves the body’s overall functions; improves the respiratory system, builds protective mucus in the nose, oxygenates and blood and brain, improves digestion, alkalizes the full body, and much more. Each style of breathwork sends special physiological signals—some ask us our bodies to slow down and chill, to get out of fight mode, and bring us back to equilibrium where our body’s natural healing systems can be activated; some styles of breathwork ask to pump up and energize


Top breathing exercises to reduce anxiety and stress 

It’s common to find yourself rushing through breathing practices or feel like you need to set aside special time for it. But that’s the point. We get to slow down, and we get to implement these practices even if there are distractions, business, and no perfect zen meditation corners in our homes. We can do these anytime, anywhere. 
  
If you’ve been feeling any small symptoms of anxiousness or stress, now is the perfect time to incorporate some incredibly easy and effective breathwork techniques into your day-to-day. 


Belly breathing 

This breathing technique can be done at any time of the day, for as long as you want. It’s recommended to practice this for at least 30 seconds to start and several times throughout the day. It’s a breath technique to practice before going to sleep as well. As you’re doing this breath, imagine your stomach like a big pump. As you breathe in, you’re expanding; as you breathe out, you’re emptying out. 

1. Put your hands on your belly/abdomen area. 
 
 

2. Take a big breath through the nose and PUSH your hands away from the belly as you breathe in. Expand your stomach as much as possible and try not to puff up your chest. 
 
 

3. Slowly exhale through the mouth and constrict your belly inwards. Feel free to make a sound with the mouth when you do this.  
 
 

4. Repeat for a minimum of 30 seconds. 
 
 
  
  

6-7-8 Breath 

The 6-7-8 breath can be done at any time of the day to calm anxiousness and stress, especially before doing to sleep. It’s a self-soothing technique that helps relax and calm the nervous system. You can do this practice sitting up or laying down.  
  
1. Close down your eyes. 
 
 

2. Relax your mouth. 
 
 

3. Take a deep breath in through your nose for 6 full seconds. Count in your head and maintain an even pace. 
 
 

4. Hold this breath for 7 seconds. 
 
 

5. Pucker your mouth and exhale out through the mouth with a “whoooooossh” sound for 8 seconds. 
 
 

6. Repeat this 6-7-8 breath for at least 5 rounds, or as long as you wish. 
 
 


You can adjust the 6-7-8 counts to accommodate your pace. You can try a 4-5-6 sequence, or an 8-9-10 sequence. Play around with the length of time that feels good for your body. Some people love to sit by an analog clock for the ticking sound to help keep pace; some love to incorporate music. 


The Box Breath 

This is another easy technique that can be done at any time of the day. 

1. Breathe in for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

2. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

3. Exhale for 4 seconds through the nose. 
 
 

4. Hold for 4 seconds. 
 
 

5. Repeat at least 5 times. 
 
 

You can play around with the timing for 6 seconds, 8 seconds, and so on to see what works best for your body.

These are the top three breathwork techniques to manage anxiety and stress. Plenty of other techniques work on sleep, inner healing, subconscious programming, altered states of consciousness, and more. Play with the three techniques above and see what feels great for you. It’s common to find a sense of calm almost immediately, some gentle tingling, and relaxation! As we’re adjusting to the new normal, let’s all contribute to creating peace both inside and out. 

If you'd like to try a guided breathwork class with me, click here to find one that works with your schedule! For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.