Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people throughout the country and around the world are finding themselves rather suddenly working from the confines of their own home. If you are someone who has grown accustomed to commuting to and from your office each day, working alongside others, and being away from home for 9+ hours each day, these changes are big.
Gone are your long, social, chatty daily rides on the train to and from work where you often get to sit with that nice lady from that big finance firm and that kind gentleman from that non-profit education program.
Gone is the hustle and bustle of the subway station after work as you dart quickly through the crowd to catch your standing room only train ride home.
Gone are the opportunities to stand at your coworker’s desk and catch them up on the latest drama with the other soccer moms or the newest item on your cousin’s baby shower registry.
Gone are the lunches in the break room where you belly laugh with your coworkers for 20 minutes each day and commiserate about the latest work directives.
Gone are your hour long car rides alone where you can listen to whatever you want on the radio, whether you are blasting 80’s rock tunes or singling along to 90’s ballads.
Things are going to look very different for a while now. Your work week filled with other people, lots of noise, and hustle and bustle is now a long 5 days filled with very little physical contact with other humans, a lot of silence, and a whole lot of stillness.
At first, these changes might be a nice break from your busy work life but, after a little bit of time, you may find that you are getting antsy and would give almost anything to go back to the way it used to be pre-COVID-19. Despite the challenges of these times, though, if you follow these 10 strategies for transitioning to working from home, you just may find some joy in this new temporary normal.
1. Establish Working Hours
One of the biggest challenges when working from home is that there are suddenly no clear boundaries between work hours and non-work hours. Decide what time your work day will start and what time your work day will end. If you were a commuter, you’ve now gained some extra non-work time at home at both the beginning and end of the day. What can you fill it with that will be fun, relaxing or restorative instead of just filling it with more work? Resist the pressure to start work early or “stay” late.
2. Keep Your Morning Routine
It’s tempting to plan to stay in your pajamas all day (or at least your pajama bottoms if you have some video conference calls). But, resist the urge and instead continue to spend time getting yourself ready for work each morning. Take your shower, make your bed, do your hair, put on your makeup, and wear something that you wouldn’t wear at home on a Saturday morning. Doing so will help your brain to understand that there is a difference between work hours and non-work hours.
3. Set Up Your Work Space
Select an area of your home where you will be comfortable setting up your work space. You may even choose to select multiple areas and move your “office” throughout the day. Be creative. Feel free to order a few things online or re-purpose some wall hangings, art, or pictures from other areas of your home. As the weather gets nicer is there an area outside where you can do some work? Make your work space inviting and personalized.
4. Take Breaks Alone
When you “arrive” to work each day, take a look at your schedule and decide when you will take some breaks and then use those breaks to do something for yourself. Take a quick walk outside. Have a cup of tea in another room. Download a meditation app and do a 5 minute meditation. Read a few pages of a book. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as it isn’t work or household chores and is something that allows you to relax for just a few minutes.
5. Spend Time With Your Children
If you are one of the vast number of parents who now have children home for weeks and months at a time, you are probably feeling the pull between attending to your work tasks and attending to your children’s needs. Plot out time each day to be with your children where you are not focusing on their at-home learning. Plan to eat lunch with them or take “coffee” breaks with them. Take the dog on a walk with them. Throw the baseball around with them. Be with them and enjoy this once in a lifetime chance to be at home together.
6. Check In With Your Partner
These times are going to put a strain on many relationships. Couples who are used to not seeing each other all day everyday may be in for a bit of a shock with just how much they will be seeing of each other’s faces soon. Or, maybe one member of the couple is an essential employee and can’t be working from home, leaving the other member of the partnership to be feeling a bit more of the responsibility of having to work from home while caring for kids. Maybe this new set up will leave you feeling a financial strain. Chances are, no matter what the circumstances, this is going to be stressful for many couples. Talk with each other about it and find out what you each will need in order to feel supported during this time. Have a little “staff meeting” with each other at the start of each work week and at the end of each work week where you check in about what worked and what could have gone better. Communication is key!
7. Feel Your Feelings
We are living through a time quite unlike anything many of us have ever experienced. No matter how stressful your job, your commute, or your relationships with coworkers may be, having it all change so suddenly can feel traumatic at times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling anxious, angry, sad, and/or numb. Allow yourself to cry, shout into the shower water, punch a pillow, or just sit and feel nothing. There is a lot of grief in what we are currently experiencing and the only way to deal with grief is to feel it.
8. Reach Out
With limited social gatherings, it is going to be very easy to find yourself feeling isolated and lonely very quickly. Make it a point to reach out to friends via text, Facetime, social apps, and even the good old telephone. Schedule group chats with your friends where you can check in together a little bit without being physically near each other. Maintaining friendships and connections may take a little more effort these days. It’s worth it!
9. Focus On Your Health
It is really tempting with gyms closing and our lives turning inward for a while to open up that bag of chips and throw our diets and exercise plans out the window. The reality is that we need to do the opposite right now. Make a plan for your meals and for at home workouts. Commit to your plan with a friend or your partner and check in regularly. After all, what boosts our immune system more than taking care of our bodies with good nutrition and healthy fitness habits?
10. Change Your Social Media
Many people’s inclination right now might be to limit your use of social media but I think we NEED social media right now. We need to feel connected to each other, part of something bigger. Lean into social media but do it in a completely different way. Hide, snooze, and ignore a whole lot of people for the next 30 days. If you are feeling deeply triggered, irritated, hurt, or angered by someone’s posts, get them off your feed for the time being. There’s no space for that right now. Fill your feed with lightness. Hide the news — you can find it when you need it. Post fun photos. Ask engaging questions. Talk about books, movies, and television. Share helpful tips. Post recipe reviews. Share at home workouts. Social media can be an important lifeline to each other right now if we use it in the right way.
These days ahead of us are going to feel strange, challenging, and sometimes even painful. But, if we are mindful and deliberate in how we approach this time in our life, we just might find that these days could be ones filled with memories, laughter, and a renewed connection to ourselves and the people we love.
Many of my blog posts center around topics like grief, parenting, and relationships but three years ago I took a risk and shared that I had made the decision to pursue Isagenix as a weight-loss plan. (Click here to read the original review). Some people scoffed and rolled their eyes but many people secretly messaged me to ask for some insight around the Isagenix program.
My initial detailed Isagenix review outlined the Isagenix weight loss program, the Isaganix company itself, and detailed my first week on the plan. Then, life happened and I never circled back around to close the loop on my experience with Isaganix.
Three years later, while I am not where I want to be with regards to my weight or my physical health, I must admit that Isagenix has provided me with a much needed consistency. Despite a bunch of curve balls thrown my way (launching my own business and relying solely on myself for employment, 2 cancer scares, 2 surgeries, and an intense life changing diagnosis, to name just a few), the Isagenix program and products have continued to provide me with an easy way to center my life around healthy nutrition.
As I sit here enjoying my Isagenix chocolate shake for lunch, it seems like it is time to give an Isagenix update!
What I LOVE about Isagenix
Isagenix protein shakes are the ONLY shakes I use. They are filling. They taste great - I do NOT like super sweet drinks so these shakes appeal to me because they are not sweet at all. They are easy to mix either in a shaker with water or with some milk product (I use almond milk) or blended with ice in my NutriBullet. The shakes work with whatever diet plan I am currently following. Due to a recent diagnosis, I have been attempting to follow a Whole Food Plant Based Diet and the Isagenix Plant-based shakes fit so nicely in with this plan. Additionally, at just 7 points per shake, they fit perfectly with the green Weight Watchers plan that I am trying to follow along with WFPB diet.
Over the past 3 years, all I have seen from the Isagenix back office is improvement. Their website and message have become more streamlined and clear. They have continued to expand upon and refine their products, adding product lines such as essential oils, skincare products, and a whole line of products specifically geared towards children. Their reimbursement and compensation for their consultants has not wavered and they continue to be one of the best MLM marketing companies out there with regards to how they treat and reward their consultants and associates.
One of the tenants of the Isagenix Diet is that you have two of their shakes each day, one healthy meal, and two healthy snacks. Following this plan is so convenient for me as a mother and therapist as my meals are often taken while driving from school to work to sporting events or in my 10 minutes between sessions with my patients. I don't have to think or do a lot of prep work. I just toss a prepackaged shake envelope into my work bag along with a shaker of water and my lunch is set. As for my "fork and knife meal" of the day (i.e. not a shake), it is really easy to toss together some protein source with some veggies and some healthy carbs for a meal around 350-500 calories. Each of the two snacks per day should be around 100-150 calories and the options are completely limitless.
By far one of the hardest aspects of the Isagenix program is getting accustomed to Cleanse Days. These are days where you give your body a break from heavy digestion and instead enjoy some of the specially formulated Cleanse for Life drink and carefully selected Isagenix supplements and snacks for 1 or 2 days. I cannot begin to explain how AMAZING I feel on a cleanse day. My brain fog is lifted, I've got tons of energy, and I feel healthy. Surprisingly, I never feel hungry! The new Peach Mango Cleanse for Life is one of the best drinks I have ever had! Getting through your first few cleanse days is a mental exercise. If you are thinking about trying it or struggling with that idea, feel free to reach out to me here as I'm happy to offer some support!
No matter how hard I try to plan ahead, I always seem to find myself peering into my pantry and realizing I only have just a handful of shakes left. Ordering from the Isagenix website is so easy and within just a couple days, my shakes are at my doorstep. Truly only Amazon Prime ships things faster for me!
What I Would Change About Isagenix
Making that initial Isagenix purchase felt like a huge financial risk for me. But, when I actually compare the price of the program to the price of what I would spend on food at the grocery store or on take out, Isagenix really does save me money. Plus, when you choose to sign up as a consultant, you can quite easily earn enough commission each month to pay for your own Isagenix purchases.
After that large initial purchase, however, I really just need to replenish items on a rolling basis each month. It's sort of like when you move to a new place and restock your essential pantry items: it's a big purchase at first but you don't actually need to buy a big container of dried basil every month or a large bottle of EVOO every week. So, big cost up front but then minimal cost moving forward!
Thinking of Trying Isagenix?
If you are thinking about tryng the Isagenix system, I suggest you take the leap, invest in yourself, and give it a chance. You'll never know if you'll love it like I do until you try it.
Read my complete review and overview of my first week on Isagenix here.
To check out some of the Isagenix products or to place your first order, click here.
To chat directly with me about the program, don't hesitate to reach out to me by sending me an email or by visiting me on Instagram.
Click here to read more articles about Isagenix, Weight Loss, and Health and Wellness.
Shake Day 4
No movement in the scale which was a huge victory for me. I had been expecting to gain all the weight back once I started back on shakes and food. I found I felt great throughout the day. Things that typically annoy me didn't seem to bother me so much and I was craving a good workout. After work I went home and did 30 minutes of Zumba to my Zumba playlist and felt great. This was probably the first time I had worked out in all of 2017.
Because I wasn't sure how I would feel working out, I prepped myself one of the Isagenix AMPed hydrate drinks for after my workout. The packets made two servings so I left one in the fridge. When my husband came home from his run, he looked and felt awful. He pushed himself and felt shakey and nauseous. I offered him the other serving of the Hydrate and it totally did the trick. He wants me to buy him some of it now :)
Shake Day 5
Still no movement on the scale. But, it's ok. I woke up in another great mood, feeling good about myself and finding my clothes feeling better. Since I am on spring break from teaching this week and didn't need to leave at the crack of dawn for work, my husband and I decided to have a breakfast date after the kids went to school. This would be my fork and knife meal for the day. I had a veggie omelette made with egg whites and swiss cheese with a side of has browns and bacon. Let me tell you, I felt awful for the next 6 hours. Truly awful. I don't know if it was the size of the meal, the cheese, the white potatoes or the bacon but my stomach was not happy. I felt full and bloated and gross.
I once again felt like working out after work so I did a 30 minute circuit routine of upper body, lower body and ab work. Felt great.
I felt pretty awful again from about 90 minutes after my workout until I went to bed. I don't know if it was the breakfast still, the workout, too few calories, the fact I sat in a building where people clearly smoke cigarettes for over an hour or a combination of all of the above but I did not feel good. I felt sick, tired and run down. I realized it was the first time I had felt like that in over a week.
Week 1 Results
My scale was up a bit this morning - 0.8 pounds. Honestly, based on how I was feeling during the day yesterday, I was expecting it to be up more like 2 pounds. Prior to Isagenix, my weight would easily fluctuate about 2-3 pounds/day. I also realized this morning that I am about midway through my lady cycle and I usually tend to bloat and gain weight around now. So, I don't feel discouraged by this morning's loss.
So, after one week with Isagenix, I have had the following results:
If you are interested in learning more about Isagenix, now might be a great time to give it a try as they are offering $30 off for new customers. Feel free to leave a comment, send me an email or visit http://jennibrennan.isagenix.com/ for more info.
Other articles you may be interested in reading:
This blog is a hard one for me to write. It feels like defeat. It feels like failure. It feels like I am opening myself up to some pretty harsh criticism. But, I am writing it because it is helpful for me and, perhaps, may be helpful for someone else too.
When my second son was born, I reached my all time high - on the scale. It was a shocking number which I will not share here. But, it was huge. Needless to say, it motivated me to lose the weight and over the course of the first 6 months or so, I dropped a significant amount of weight by following Weight Watchers. But, then I plateaued.
Still determined to find a healthier me, I changed my perspective, began counting calories and really looking at the quality of the foods I was eating. I also found Zumba. Then I found Bodypump. Then I found Spin. Then I found running. I essentially moved into the gym. I was there for at least 2 hours daily at least 6 days each week. Sometimes I would find myself having done 8 or 9 solid days in a row without a break. I was addicted. But, I had lost over 150 pounds since my youngest son was born. 150 pounds. That's a whole person!
Yet, it took it's toll. At different times along the way, I developed tendonitis in my calf, re-injured my knee and injured both my wrist and my elbow. I developed some neurological concerns which required me to halt my exercise for a few months. In addition to the exercise taking its toll on my body, it also took its toll on my children as they often would tag along with me and spend those 2 hours each day in the child care room. They were bored and frustrated. I often missed their sports practices and sometimes missed part or the entirety of their games so that I could get my workouts in.
In finding a healthier me, I lost sight of myself as a mother. I hadn't found balance.
It was too much. But, that was depressing. I had made a life for myself at the gym and connected with some wonderful people. I missed them. I felt left out. I l felt like a loser. I felt judged. So, I comforted myself with food. I cut back on my at-home workouts. Quite quickly my bad habits came back. Over the course of two years, I gained back nearly 50 pounds.
Even when I was able to exercise again, I couldn't turn back to the gym with the same fervor I once did. Eventually I came to accept that and began to view the ability to spend more time with my children as a gift. Besides, I knew that my greatest weight loss always came when I was eating clean - no gluten, limited dairy, no processed foods, no added sugar. I knew what I had to do but I just couldn't make it work.
Over the past few months, I could feel myself needing another change in perspective. I knew my body needed a reset. I could feel it. I needed a do over. I needed to get back to being me. And, I needed to do it without marrying the gym and causing myself more harm. I needed to respect my physical limits. I needed to find a way to be me - physically, emotionally, professionally and as a mother.
So, I have decided to give Isagenix a try. Even just typing it out feels like a dirty secret. Yes, I opted for a program with protein shakes and supplements and days of fasting/cleansing. Yes, it costs a lot of money but really no more than I was spending already on take out and fast food. Plus, shakes are hugely convenient for me as I work somewhere different each day and have only a few minutes to eat in between classes or patients. Plus, it feels like what I need.
I decided to invest in myself this month and see what happens.
My goal with Isagenix is to reset my body and to unlearn my bad habits. My hope is to balance out my hormones so that I can delay that hysterectomy looming over my head. I would love for my joint and muscle pains to get better so that I can get back to heavy lifting and do more than the 5 and 10 pound weights I have at home. I would love improved sleep as well as improved mood. Ultimately, I want "me" back.
It's not going to be easy. It means a big change and it means trying something new. it means being judged by people who think I should "just eat real food" or "just work out." It means owning that those things aren't working for me now and that is ok. What I need is more important than how some people may view me.
As I move through these first 30 days, I will be blogging about my experience, the challenges I face and, hopefully, my successes. I have spent time researching the program and have been connected with what feels like a good support system. I have taken my measurements and submitted my before photos. I am ready to hit reset on me.
Here goes nothing.
UPDATE (CLICK HERE FOR MY REVIEW OF ISAGENIX WEEK 1)
Those of you who know me have probably heard me mention the use of essential oils in our household. There are multilevel marketing companies selling quality essential oils, therapists and doctors diffusing essential oils in their waiting rooms and more mainstreet retailers are now carrying essential oils in their stores.
But, if you are anything like I was a couple of years ago, you likely are overwhelmed and confused by all of the essential oil options and uses today. Here are the top 7 ways my family uses essential oils in our home:
My oldest son gets migraines fairly often and I am frequently hit with tension headaches. Essential oils have done wonders for our headaches. I prefer to use the straight Peppermint Essential Oil while my son prefers to use Head Ease Essential Oil Blend. As with all essential oils, they can be diffused with water in an essential oil diffuser (see the end of this post for a link to some of my favorite diffusers) or diluted with a Carrier Oil and then applied directly onto the skin. When it comes to headaches, essential oil applied to the temples can knock a headache away in just a few minutes.
Do you ever have those nights where you just can't relax and calm down? Those nights where you stare at the clock and watch your sleep opportunity literally tick away? Those are the nights we find ourselves turning to either pure Lavendar Essential Oil or Good Night Essential Oil Blend. As with the oils for headaches, these can be diffused or mixed with a carrier oil and applied to the temples.
3. Colds and Respiratory Viruses
When you have kids, there will inevitably be times where you feel like you are living in a germ factory and few things are worse than the discomfort brought about by a head cold. We love to diffuse Eucalyptus Essential Oil or Breathe Easier Essential Oil Blend. When my boys have a cold, I'm extremely generous with the oils, I belnd them with a carrier oil, apply to their chest, back and even the bottoms of their feet AND I diffuse the oils. I don't know that it shortens the illness, but it certainly makes it easier to sleep.
We've all done it. Despite frequent re-application of sunscreen, wearing gigantic beach hats and triyng to hide under rash guards and giant umbrellas, we all have come home with a sunburn on ourselves and our children. While I am always partial to pure aloe to help the sunburn heal, my children have become very fond of how it feels to have a blend of carrier oil and Peppermint Essential Oil applied to their skin before bed after a sunburn.
5. Food Smells
I love cooking but I HATE the way my hands and my kitchen smell after working with garlic and onions. A good Lemon Essential Oil or Simply Citrus Essential Oil Blend mixed in with a carrier oil can cut through the most offensive food odors. Diffusing these in the kitchen also tends to freshen the air without overpowering the scent of whatever is cooking.
6. Stinky Shoes
You know that horrid smell when your children wear their shoes outside in the wet, rainy weather or, worse yet, when they decide to wear their shoes without socks? You know that smell. The one that kicks you in the stomach and makes you want to burn the shoes. Before you burn them, buy yourself a bottle of Four Thieves Essential Oil. Now, be forewarned. This stuff smells awful. But, it works. When you have a foul smelling sneaker or trashcan problem, put some of this oil on a cotton ball and leave it overnight in the shoe or in the trash can. Somehow it absorbs the terrible odors. It has also been said that diffusing this essential oil can build up immunity and ward off illnesses. I cannot get past the smell to try to diffuse it. Let me know if it works for you.
As I revealed in my blog, Raising Aliens, I am raising stinky alien-like boys. Sometimes these aliens make our house smell very unhuman-like. During times like these, I love to diffuse some nice essential oils throughout my house. My favorite is Hope Essential Oil but Eden's Garden sells a wide variety of very pleasant smelling essential oil blends and sets like this one.
While there are countless companies that sell essential oils these days, I prefer the Eden's Garden product line as their oils are affordable, reliable, consistent and ship super fast through Amazon. The last few sets that I purchased from Eden's Garden came with a detailed booklet with over 100 ways to use essential oils. It's been a great resource!
To view a variety of different diffuser options, please visit the link below:
To see more of my family's favorite essential oils, visit my store. Go ahead and try a few oils and let me know what you and your family think.
About Changing Perspectives
I often find myself encouraging people to consider changing their perspective or reframe the way in which they view things. This blog is an extension of that practice and is also an opportunity for me to write from a number of different perspectives including clinician, educator, mother, friend and supervisor. Blog topics are also quite varied and changeable. Topics explored include, but are certainly not limited to, grief, parenting, health and wellness and relationships. Join me and explore a number of changing perspectives!