It’s been getting more difficult to focus or to come up with new ideas the longer we’ve been in quarantine. There are times that waves of stress, anxiety and rage can come due to triggers outside of work like the current political climate and the ongoing pandemic. While we understand that not everyone can physically go out and help, many are trying to help out from their homes and struggling between staying informed and protecting their minds. Now that many of us have been working from home for almost three months, you may also be noticing how stressful it is to get out of your work mindset after work hours at home.
Personally, I like to pace around when I’m thinking. As a content creator, I feel like one of my biggest challenges when it comes to working from home is being in the same environment every single day. There’s something about taking a walk outside or watching different people and vehicles pass by that helped me think of new ideas and concepts. Plus, my daily commute home felt like the signal that told my mind, “You’re done for the day and you can stop thinking about work now.” If your line of work depends on a lot of ideation or designing, it can become stressful to think of new concepts when you spend most of your time in one space. Now that we can’t go for a walk or a trip outside, rearranging your furniture could be a way to achieve the change of scenery that you need.
Clear out your workspace
One piece of advice that I frequently heard early into quarantine was not to work and sleep in the same room. This makes it difficult to get out of the work mindset after hours, but not everyone has a separate room to transform into a home office. When I first transitioned to working at home from the office, I did notice a change in my productivity. I was a little more stressed than usual because my “work” desk at home was filled with old files, souvenirs and my scattered makeup collection. This type of setup provides many distractions, keeping your desk or workspace tidy can help you focus. Unwanted clutter has been linked to negative emotions like irritability, stress, worry, tension and confusion. Things that you initially didn’t think of as a distraction can be blocking your thought process like that chair filled with the clothes you plan to wear again before washing. Getting rid of these can help you have a better mindset while you work or rest in your room.
Moving your furniture is a form of self-expression
You may not believe me, but hear me out: your furniture is an extension of yourself. There’s a rewarding feeling of taking control over what’s yours. As humans, we crave a sense of autonomy and we constantly identify ourselves with the things we do whether it’s work, our degrees or our hobbies. As weird as it sounds, you could also feel a sense of autonomy or identity after you rearrange your furniture. Dr. Carri Barron, assistant professor of psychiatry at Dell Medical School and Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, told SELF that she has noticed many people confess to feeling better after rearranging their furniture every now and then. She connects this feeling with research on “movement-based creation” which is beneficial in terms of body image, self-esteem, and overall psychological well-being. Although studies on this looked at activities like dance, theater performance and tai chi as ways of self-expression or creativity, Barron thinks that the act of rearranging your furniture can apply the same principle.
Make your space inspire you
While you’re changing the arrangement of your furniture, redecorate your work station with things that inspire you. You can replace unwanted clutter with photos, notes or artworks that remind you of your goals to motivate you while you work. I mean, how else will you work if you’ve been staring at a pile of unfolded laundry in the past hour? Moreover, getting rid of distractions and setting up a new arrangement provides a sense of productivity and achievement since you get something out of it—a new space. And who knows? You may also unearth old souvenirs that remind you of pleasant memories and the outside world to curb your cabin fever.
This activity can be treated as a self-care ritual as you take control over your own space and make it totally yours. Working on a physically exhausting project such as rearranging your furniture can serve as a distraction from stress, while also giving you a change of scenery in the end. Moreover, seeing your room look the way you want it—clean, not full of things, filled with photos, your souvenirs on display—can be comforting once you step in it. This may be the break that you need to recharge your mind and to motivate you to get right back on your daily hustle.