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Work-From-Home Wellness Tips from 6 Industry Leaders

For those of us unaccustomed to the world of working from home, the prospect of setting up a productive space in your own abode can feel daunting and disorienting. Creating an inviting at-home workspace is within reach through impactful insight from six experts who conduct the bulk of their businesses and creative pursuits out of their homes. Check out their helpful suggestions below, which are sure to cultivate ingenuity and inspiration during a time it’s most needed.

Randi Bergman, writer, editor, and consultant

Photographed by Renata Kaveh.

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“After 3 years of freelance, I finally set up a proper desk space for myself so that my tiny apartment has some separation. I’d recommend anyone does the same—even if it’s temporary. I’d also recommend beautifying this space (adding flowers, candles, an organizer) so that it’s enticing, and feels like somewhere you want to be. Getting dressed, even if it’s just wearing leggings and a sweatshirt, also provides a bit of structure to the day and will make you feel like you ‘did’ something.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Moving your body is one hundred percent essential, even within the confines of your own space—for your physical body, but even more importantly for your mental state right now. Many studios and instructors are offering free classes on Instagram Live, which is amazing because, as well as getting a workout, you feel part of something. I’m doing more than one per day as well as trying for a walk outside (cover up! mask or scarf + gloves!) while talking to friends.”

Alyssa Goodman, artist and founder of Chez Bippy

Photographed by William Ukoh.

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“The first hour is the most important part of my day to set up—it acts as a ballast against the uncertain nature of working without an enforced schedule. The first thing I do to set up my work-from-home environment is light a candle in a clearing type of way. The ceremony of lighting the candle brings me into my space and I feel committed to staying for longer without distraction.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Since grappling with the current world climate may seem like a big task to take on pre-coffee, my biggest advice is to start small and start early to set you up for a good day. I have been doing 10-minute meditations every morning, and again at lunchtime. I find meditation is an amazing tool to have in times like these as a way to maintain perspective and deal with the stress of what’s happening in society right now.”

Connie Lo, co-founder of NIU BODY

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“My number one tip for an inspiring at-home work environment is to create a distinct workspace. I set up my desk with all the tools I need for maximum productivity. These include my laptop, an external monitor, notebook, pen, diffuser (I use a sweet orange essential oil to wake me up in the morning), and plants. I keep my phone away from my desk and on Do Not Disturb mode for a distraction-free environment. Another tip for a healthy WFH environment is to tackle one cleaning project per day to keep your home tidy and germ-free. For me, this can look like sweeping/mopping on Monday, laundry on Tuesday, disinfecting the bathroom and kitchen areas on Wednesday, and so on.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Protect your evenings with plans you look forward to, such as video calling friends, playing (virtual) board games, taking a bath, or settling down with a good book. One habit I started a month ago, which has greatly improved my mental well-being, was to significantly reduce my time on social media. Something I’ve added to this practice is to limit exposure to news relating to the coronavirus. I allow myself to listen to The Daily podcast, a roundup of the latest from The New York Times, as well as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s daily COVID-19 addresses. Other than that, I don’t go out of my way to get sucked into the social media whirlwind surrounding the coronavirus. During unprecedented times like this, I think it’s especially crucial to get outside of yourself. I do this by thinking of ways I can help others, including buying groceries for the elderly in my apartment building, or dropping off care packages for members of the NIU BODY team. I also practice daily meditation and gratitude.”

Jaime McCuaig, florist and founder of Gunnar Floral

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“Clean your space so it feels ready to receive you. Listen to your body and let it tell you when to rest and when to be productive. Make sure you are equipped with a teapot, a window, and at least 1 vase.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Now is the time for radical care—care of ourselves, of each other, of our environment. I feel connected and grounded when I spend time outside observing how steadfast the seasons are and how nature perseveres no matter what. Fresh air is an elixir. Touching trees feels really good. I have been curating my living space with harbingers of spring—a snowdrop or a big branch or a seed pod that has already sowed. These help keep this meditation going.”

Rebecca Ramsdale, fashion blogger

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“While working from bed everyday can be tempting, I would recommend setting up an ‘office.’ Whether that’s at your desk, kitchen table, or an armchair in your living room, it’s important to have a space you can sit down in and feel productive. If there’s something in your space making it hard to focus—for example, a sink full of dishes you can’t stop thinking about—then go do them before you start working so you can really focus on what you need to get done. And don’t forget to take breaks! Plan out what your day is going to look like and slot in time for you to eat, have a coffee, and scroll mindlessly through Instagram. If you’ve pre-planned when you’re going to do all that stuff, you’ll be less likely to find yourself stopping midway through writing an email to check a cute meme your bff just sent you.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Everyone handles stress differently, but what’s been keeping me feeling my best is getting stuff done around my apartment. You know all those random tasks that you’ve been wanting to get done for ages but never seem to have the time, like cleaning out the junk drawer? Well, I’m doing them! I wake up to my alarm at 8 AM (very important to maintain a good sleep schedule), I put the coffee on, and while that’s brewing, I tackle one small task I’ve been putting off—like wiping down the leaves on all my plants. I get some work done, respond to emails, then tackle something else, like reorganizing my shoes. Adding in these tasks throughout my day gives me something to look forward to while I’m working, and makes me feel more productive. Another thing that I’ve really been enjoying while being at home is going for walks. Usually around midday, my boyfriend and I take our dog for an hour-and-a-half long walk down by the water. It gives her a chance to get some of her energy out, but also gives us a chance to disconnect from our phones and laptops and just hang out for a bit. It’s really all about listening to your needs, and finding the balance of what works best for you and your happiness.”

Cameron Lee aka Marilyn Mansion, artist and DJ

Photographed by Anne-Marie Cloutier.

On setting up a work-friendly space in your home

“A good work from home environment starts with being honest with yourself. If you’re gonna sleep in, so be it—don’t punish yourself. Set a routine, and stick with it. As Marilyn Mansion, my art/DJ alter-ego, I style myself elaborate outfits with a general goal of surprising myself with who I see in the mirror. This can be exhausting and feel like a burden, particularly for a scatterbrained procrastinator like myself. In art school, a painting teacher recommended working on multiple paintings at once—a clever strategy for anyone who can feel caught in a specific task. Making lists of small, achievable goals—cleaning makeup brushes, pouring another Quarantini, staring at the cat for twenty minutes—all help to ease up the pressure we are under to create within quarantine. If I am stumped on coming up with a brand new look, I remember that fashion is all about cycles, repurposing and finding new ways to make the old and familiar feel shockingly fresh and new. Start with familiar territory—maybe it’s an Anna Wintour fringed bob or that Prince record you listen to every week—and start playing. Often this is about taking an idea that seems obvious to me, and remembering it may not be for everyone—each outfit deserves its time to shine. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to be kind to yourself. Regardless of circumstances, trust your process and stay focused on your goals.”

On staying healthy and grounded during the pandemic

“Since the outbreak of COVID-19 prohibits social gathering, my work and creative output—monthly DJ gigs at the Beaver Café among others, and daily work at Nouveau Riche Vintage, a studio/retail project started by my close friend Andréa Lalonde—are adapting creatively to work within quarantine. Nouveau Riche has an online shop and a voracious Instagram presence. To bridge the gap lost by social distancing, we both saw this as an opportunity to integrate our skills to create a new project: Nouveau Riche Home Quarantine Shopping Network (NR HQSN). While Andréa and I were packing up the shop for quarantine, I made a joke about a sort of home-shopping video project. We both love camp-comedy, and fashion needs a good dose of humour, particularly during social distancing. We want to entertain ourselves, our clients, and a general audience, who come to us not just for unique clothing, but for our knowledge and enthusiasm about art, design, designers, and the stories that connect us. Another important takeaway: resist the urge to cut yourself bangs during quarantine! Above all, check in with your friends, colleagues, and family, find every opportunity to be dazzling, and ask yourself: what would Diana Vreeland suggest I do?”