Working From Home During Social Distancing
Life is changing before our eyes quicker than we can grasp it. In just a matter of weeks, our world as a collective and individually have taken a 180-degree turn. The government issued social distancing until April 30th, leading to more people working from home than ever before. But how does one manage working from home AND taking care of their eczema? (And possibly taking care of kids, all while being restrained to ONE location?)
Note: This article was written on April 8th, 2020. Stay at home orders vary by state and may not reflect what is stated above in your region or may have changed since the creation of this article.
Working from home
Luckily, I’ve been working from home now for over a year, so I have somewhat experienced separating my work and home life, even though both are under the same roof.
The discipline of working outside the home
The mistake many people make is in thinking that working from home is a luxury. But this major change takes more self-discipline and obedience than working in a specific work environment or atmosphere. Most external work environments require certain things of you: drive to work, dress up a certain way, interact with other co-workers face-to-face, bring or pack your own lunch, complete certain tasks in a timely fashion, drive back home, and so forth. Most certainly, these outside-of-the-home spaces also probably distract you from your eczema and from scratching your skin away every chance you get. (Or is it just me?)
*Side note: I used to go to the bathroom at work just to tear up or scratch my legs intensely for a few minutes. Heavenly temporarily. Destructive in the long run.*
A working environment
Overall, these types of external workplaces are intended to support you in completing your work and your work only. You can’t just work in your PJs or grub on snacks whenever you want. You also can’t just scratch like a monkey on hives in front of people (you can, but we all know that makes people weirded out). So what happens now that you’re working from home and don’t have those same restrictions?
Places we scratch eczema the most
When we really think about the environments or areas in which we tend to scratch the most, what are they? Maybe parks, spaces with installed carpets, super warm and enclosed areas? How about the very space we live and sleep most of the day? Our own home. Yes, for me personally, I tend to scratch more when I am in my own home; when I am comfortable in my pajamas and being inactive or lazy.
Distractions from scratching eczema at home
So what does this mean now if you’re working from home? Will your eczema get worse? Will you be scratching more? Possibly. But what I do know is that there are key steps you can take to trick your mind into thinking you are elsewhere. (Even if you are seeking new employment, you’re still remaining at home for 99% of the time, so this still can apply to you.)
“What? You mean I can’t work in my pajamas, Ashley?!” That’s EXACTLY what I mean. Don’t just work from your bed and in your evening pajamas. While this might seem like the best and most comfortable idea, your brain won’t be able to differentiate your environment. Remember, what we’re trying to do here is trick our brain into thinking we are not “home” so that we avoid the tendencies of scratching. While I don’t necessarily “dress up” as if I’m entering a corporate meeting, I do like to change my clothes as soon as I get up. Leggings or jeans, and a sweater or T-shirt normally does the job. This tells my brain, “Hey! It’s time to get up and get going!”
Stick to a schedule
There’s a specific time you normally enter work, right? So that’s the time you get to work while at home too. While you may be able to sleep in a bit more because there’s no need to plan for travel time and traffic, it’s important you still stick to the schedule. Create a similar structure you would have at your physical job. Start when you normally would start, take your lunch breaks when you normally would, and finish when you’re done.
And don’t forget to include a “no phone” rule during this time too. Aimless scrolling and constant distractions can spike up your eczema. Creating a clear time structure will once again trick your brain into thinking you’re at work, as well as support you from overeating at home.
Set up a designated work area
Regardless of how big your space is, be sure to set up a working area. This means that when you enter this space - whether it be a corner of your room or in your office or living room area - you and your brain know that it’s time to focus and get work done. Set boundaries and be strict with yourself and others about your working space. Let no one or nothing interrupt or interfere while you’re in this space.
I recently moved and my space is a bit smaller than what I am used to. However, I made sure to fit a desk in my room to ensure I create my work area. Although it’s a bit tight in here, I refuse to create excuses or outlets for distraction.
Although we’re highly restricted to be active outdoors right now, it doesn’t mean we can’t be active indoors. And no… watching back to back shows or binging on Tiger King is not included y'all! When I say active, I mean doing anything that requires brain and/or physical movement! Home workouts, reading, writing, doing a puzzle, painting - anything that keeps your brain from becoming idle or stagnant is highly recommended. From personal experience, remaining active is exactly what keeps my nails away from my skin. When I’m focused on the task at hand, and especially if I’m having fun doing it, eczema does not exist. I’m in control.
Staying home has changed us
I don’t think anyone would have imagined or predicted we would be ending the first quarter of 2020 practicing social distancing and being quarantined. Many of us are now working from home for the first time in our lives. Our daily routines have shifted or are in the process of changing. Some of us are homeschooling our kids. Ultimately, things have changed and are changing, and we have the choice: to accept the change and work with it or resist the change and find ourselves evermore so frustrated and stressed out.
I’m choosing to work with it and I invite you to do the same. It can be easier than you may think: set the structure, dress up, and have fun.
QUESTION: What concerns do you have with your eczema as you transition to working from home?
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?