Mar. 19. 2020
Home & Garden
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

First and foremost, working from home is a privilege! If you’re in this position, it’s a great time to practice gratitude and focusing on the positive and other tips you’ll learn in this Guide To Working From Home Healthfully.

Many people around the world are not able to work from home or are taking care of others on the front lines in health and service industry careers. If you’re having a hard time, feeling alone, disorganized, or just don’t know where to start, then this guide is going to help you tremendously.

In my opinion, there are far more pros than cons for working from home, which is why for the past 9 years, I’ve worked from “home” or remotely with my company and our entire team!

We’re all incredibly different so it’s important to read this resource and guide here with your unique lens, same with any other resource you’re reading about working from home.

Working From Home Is Different For Each Of Us

Despite what you may think based on beautiful photos of my kitchen, or me in full glam with hair and makeup in photos I share, 90% of my time is actually spent in cozy loungewear and my hair in braids, hot tea in hand, and our pup Luna chilling at my feet.

I love working from home. It works really really well for my personality, my working style, my energy, and my lifestyle — I thrive on having complete solitude, silence, and inhabiting my own space so I can freely write, create, and get innovating without distractions whatsoever. I also thrive in this environment because I’m extremely organized, easily stay on track, keep focused, manage my time really well, and get things completed efficiently…but it took me years of practice to learn how to do all of this!

Many of these characteristics such as being an introvert, extrovert, type A, etc. I believe you’re born with, but all of them can be practiced and implemented to matter how you uniquely are. In addition, you can use your working style strengths and personality to find a solution that works best for you when working from home.

Feeling distant or alone?

Depending on your personality type, this may be a freeing time for you since you’re able to work alone, focus, be free from distractions, and focus on your own energy to recharge and optimize it instead of feeling potentially drained working with others, attending meetings, or brainstorming with others more than you need to.

Even though you may thrive on alone time, it’s also so important you schedule social time to engage with others too!

For extroverts, this may be a challenging time for you since you’re used to working with others, collaborating in real-time, having meeting face to face, and gaining energy from those around you. The silver lining here is that you’ll learn so much about yourself and ways to get really resourceful in making intentional time to connect with people around you.

The first step in this process and your new routine is to make sure you’re 100% self-aware that this is who you are and you can identify those are the things you need in order to thrive.

That way, you can strategically put systems in place to meet your unique needs such as:

  • Instead of using the phone, use FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, etc. to have meetings with your co-workers, team, or friends
  • Stumped on a problem where you would normally hop in the office to chit-chat with someone? Video call them, text them, or slack them to brainstorm
  • Have a friend or co-worker you know also is an extrovert and they need comfort right now too? Great, work together on separate projects while having a video meeting running – it makes you feel like someone else is in the room with you
  • Schedule a lunch date like normal, just make it virtual
  • Explore what it feels like to work alone, what feelings come up for you, any triggers that you want to explore further? Use this time to self-reflect and grow
  • Explore online communities where you can “hang out”

Working From Home Benefits

While I share some of these benefits, some of you might be thinking, no way! That’s not the case for me at all. If you’re thinking that some of these listed benefits aren’t benefits for you at all, hold on because I have some solutions for you as well.

Remember that all of our home environments are unique and at the end of the day, you’ll need to apply this knowledge and tweak it based on your unique living situation to make it work for you.

Working from home has benefits such as you have the opportunity…

  • to increase work productivity
  • to increase work focus
  • to cook healthy homemade meals
  • to increase water consumption
  • to take more mindful breaks from screens
  • to embrace the sense of freedom
  • to play around with a routine that works for you and your household
  • to decorate and get your workspace set up the way you need
  • to listen to music or podcasts in the background
  • to wear cozy clothing, pj’s, etc. and forgo hair and makeup
  • …or at least to keep it business up top and party below for those team meetings
  • to explore online tools that can support your everyday work life
  • to organize everything digitally
  • to discover how you work when alone
  • to strengthen your accountability muscle

Working From Home Challenges

  • could feel isolating or distant from others
  • could be hard to keep a routine without normal accountability
  • could be difficult juggling other people in the household
  • could be challenging finding a spot to call your work zone
  • could be challenging long-term by not setting boundaries with work/play

How To Work From Home Healthfully

1. Set the scene and space

Our psychology is wired in a way where the environment plays a huge role in our habits and habits change. That’s why it’s vital for you to create a space, even if it’s a specific chair in one spot at your dining room table, that’s completely devoted to your work and nothing else but your work. Trust me! Please don’t bring your computer or laptop to your bedroom, to your couch or any other area where you do something else. Keep the spaces and mindsets separate.

What helps me do this as well is setting the vibe and tone for the room such as lighting a candle or your favorite essential oil scent, lighting that’s conducive to your work, and one of my essentials is making sure the room/house is clean!

One of my biggest mottos is “clean house, clear mind” and this is especially true when you’re working from home so you have zero visual or mental distractions taking you away from the work you need to accomplish.

What’s on my work desk:

  • Planner so I stay on track engaging in the highest priority items
  • Colored gen pens because it helps me have a little fun with staying organized
  • Airpods or headphones to take calls while I type or edit photos and do design work
  • Lip balm
  • Hot tea
  • Blue light blocking glasses
  • Cozy slippers or house shoes
  • The tech: my phone, laptop, phone, and external hard drives

2. Schedule and plan

Just because you’re working from home, doesn’t mean everything has been thrown out the window including your routine and your schedule. If you had a specific schedule and routine prior to working from home, adapt it as closely as you would before this transition. It’ll help you stick to key areas of your routine that are supporting your health and it can shine a light on opportunities where you can deepen your self-care and health practice.

For example, if you always had a 20-minute commute in the morning, now walk outside or do an at-home workout to move your body instead. Have meetings with the team at 10 am every morning? Make sure that’s on your calendar still and everything you’ve done that morning prior is similar or even better, you may have more time to engage in a morning routine.

If you normally take lunch out or with a co-worker, schedule it just the same on your calendar and take that break to nourish your body and your mind.

3. Routine and boundaries

I know for me, it’s really easy to overwork because I love what I do and am super passionate about it — and because my work is steps away from where I do other things like hanging out with Jesse and Luna, engage in my hobbies, eat, etc.

That’s why it’s crucial to set boundaries with your working time and playtime. Just as you would physically get up and leave for work, do the same while working from home. Make a ritual out of it like making yourself your favorite cup of tea, playing a song every day that signals “it’s time to wrap up the workday”, or shaking it up with a little dance!

Whatever that signal is for you, be sure to repeat it and be consistent with it each day you’re working.

Other routines that are helpful to continue are showering and general hygiene, getting dressed in a separate outfit than your sleeping clothes, check-in with your mental and emotional health routinely like I teach in the Method Membership.

4. Nourish yourself

Eating energizing Foundational Five Nourish Meals throughout the day is key as it will fuel your body with healthy fats, proteins, fiber, and whole-food carbohydrates which keep your blood sugars stabilized, your focus sharp, and help you feel great and support your immune system.

In addition, you may also consider adding a multivitamin to your routine, like One A Day®️ Natural Fruit Bite Multivitamins. These are great for helping to bridge the gap when you may not get all of your daily intake of vitamins through your meals alone. Even better, this new form of multivitamin from One A Day®️ is made with wholesome ingredients like real farm-grown apples* as the first ingredient!

Keep things like water and tea available to you and in reaching distance so you’re on top of it when it comes to hydrating and nourishing your body. The same goes for taking a break for a healthy snack when your hunger levels are increasing or when taking a break for enjoying a meal like lunch.

Just like you’re setting up your workspace in your home away from everything else, it’s also important to keep the food in the kitchen and away from your desk so you’re not creating a habit of working while eating and snacking with distraction.

Be mindful of your meal times and snack times by putting away your computer, all screens, and devices, and putting up an “away” post-it on your computer to trigger this new action you’re about to take.

5. Go virtual

If your business is normally brick and mortar and you can still provide your services online, take it online! Use outlets such as zoom, skype, or facetime to touch base with your clients, customers, and other business relationships.

What about you? Do you have any healthy working from home hacks you can share with me and the rest of the community?


*Apple puree concentrate