Remote Worker Wellness - 6 Ways to Practice Self Care at Your Desk

There are so many reasons that people choose to move in the remote work direction. For me, it was a combination of factors.

Yes, I wanted more work-life balance.

Yes, I love the location independence and the romance of the digital nomad lifestyle.

Yes, I love ditching the commute and working from home in my pj’s.

But... if I am being honest, the real reason I have aspired to be a full-time remote worker has to do with my long standing health challenges.

Earlier in my life I struggled A LOT with my health, specifically with chronic back pain. I am not talking about achy muscles or mild sciatica.

I am talking about full on debilitating, laid up in bed, can’t roll from my back to my side to get up and pee, doped up on a cocktail of pain pills and muscle relaxers.  I am sooooo lucky I am not a drug addict kind of pain.  

There are dreams I have said goodbye to.

There were days I thought about filing for disability.

Most of the decisions I have made in my adult life, in one way or another, have been informed by my search for healing and sustainable vitality. My remote work lifestyle allows me to take outstanding care of myself on my terms so I can prevent these kind of pain episodes. Additionally, this same lifestyle allows me to respond without too much disruption when my symptoms resurface.

I have been lucky to have discovered many healing solutions, and after 10 years of living with daily pain, I have achieved nearly 8 years of pain free living!!

Similarly, I have been blessed to have designed a lifestyle that many covet!

When I sat down with the rest of the Rebel + Connect team to plan out our 2017 blog content, we thought it would be great to share some of these self care and lifestyle design wisdom nuggets with our fellow remote work champions.

Would you believe me if I told you that between the time I came up with the title “6 Ways to Practice Self Care At Your Desk in 2017 #NewYearsResoultions,” and the time I sat down to write it, I drove across the country, threw my back out, spent four days completely knocked out on muscle relaxers, and revisited every fear and reality that inspired the article in the first place?!!

It’s true.

So here are my tried and true ways, newly tested, for practicing self care at your desk in 2017, some of which you just can’t do unless you are a remote worker!! :)

1. Aromatherapy

I just love things that smell good, but I grew up in a household with parents who are allergic to anything with a scent, so this healing resource I wasn’t able to access until later in my life.

Aromatherapy is a term that gets thrown around in hippie circles and as a result it can often get shrugged off by non-hippies. This is a shame because there are some sound neuroscience principles upon which aromatherapy is founded. Smells act on the “the Limbic System which is responsible for emotions, memory... Because of this, when used correctly the properties of essential oils have the power to affect our moods in a positive and balancing way.”

So how can you make aromatherapy work for you?

First off, buy a diffuser! That is the best way to get essential oils into the air.

Next, figure out HOW you want to affect your mood so you can determine the oils you need to use in any given moment. Here are some ideas.

Stress and Anxiety Reduction:

  • Lavender

  • Rose

  • Vetiver

  • Ylang Ylang

  • Bergamot

  • Chamomile

  • Frankincense


  • Lavender

  • Jasmine

  • Rosemary

  • Cinnamon

  • Peppermint

  • Lemon

As you can see you have options, so if you don’t like a certain scent no worries! You can also use the power of association to train your brain to associate certain smells with certain moods.

For example, I associate a scent called Water Goddess with my sister’s hugs, so when I am having a shit day, I wear this oils on my wrists and it is like wearing a hug from my sister!

What could be better?

Remote workers have the advantage here for a couple of reasons:

#1 You have more control over the environment, so you won’t have to compete with other smells.

#2 You don’t have to worry about the scents you choose aggravating your co-workers, some people are really allergic to some scents.

2. Music

I grew up in a musical family and spent the first 26 years of my life as a dance performer and choreographer, so it is safe to say I am a music lover and biased when discussing the benefits of integrating music into one’s day to day life.

Having said that, it is also safe to say that research is on my side. Music has been found to:

  • increase happiness

  • decrease stress

  • increase overall health

  • reduce depression

  • elevate mood

  • increase verbal intelligence

  • raise IQ

  • increase performance

So if you are working from home turn that music up and let the bass bump!! If you are working on the road, invest in some high quality headphones and let the tunes play!

Remote workers have the advantage here for a couple of reasons:

#1 Your supervisor can’t tell you no music (unless you are doing home-based customer service or cold calling, but come on be reasonable people).

#2 You don’t have to worry about annoying co-workers.

#3 You can play whatever music you want, foul language and all!


3. Feng Shui

I was first introduced to feng shui by my undergrad psych advisor Ann McKim. While she was a very traditional western psych professor in most instances she was also a huge advocate of feng shui way before feng shui became a trendy subject.


She believes that our external landscapes were metaphoric representations of our internal landscapes and had the power to inform and transform our internal landscapes.

Psychology Today’s Caroline Beaton explains that “Feng shui is the art of influencing our internal state by arranging our surroundings to promote well-being and success.”

Remote workers have the advantage in this regard for a couple reasons:

#1 If you are a work from home remote worker you have 100% control over your work space!!

#2 If you are a digital nomad remote worker you have 100% control over where you choose to work in any given moment and if you find yourself in a crap location you can always move tomorrow!

4. Movement

As I mentioned earlier in the article the first 26 years of my life were spent studying dance, and as a result, I am a huge advocate of movement.

At this point it is fairly common knowledge that exercise is good for you, but there are some other kinds of movement that are not as well understood and appreciated.

Breath: The subtlest of movements is. Breath is also the most vital movement that happens in the body. When we cease to breath we cease to live. We often take breath for granted, but when we breath consciously amazing things happen.

  • Increase energy

  • Reduce stress

  • Improve digestion

  • Improve awareness

  • Improve relationships

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Stretching: The best stretching is passive, creates spaciousness, and counteracts the effects of gravity on the body. Stretching has powerful health benefits.

  • Encourages an optimistic outlook

  • Improves posture

  • Increases flexibility

  • Increases stamina

  • Reduces risk of injury

  • Improves energy levels

  • Promotes good circulation

Remote workers have the advantage here for a couple of reasons:

#1 Conscious breathing can look and sound weird, but when you are working remotely you can always get privacy when you want some!

#2 Stretching can look weird and can require more space than some traditional work spaces may allow. When you work remotely you can easily access privacy and space when you needed.

5. Self Talk

I grew up in a home where everyone talked to themselves, so I was beyond the moon excited to come across an article titled “6 Benefits of Talking to Yourself (No, You’re Not Crazy).

In all seriousness, I had already figured out that we weren’t all crazy, because self talk is a much discussed topic in the psychology world. However, it was really exciting to see the benefit of self talk laid out in laymen’s terms, so I will pass them along to you here:

  • Your brain will work better and more efficiently

  • Your thoughts will be more organized

  • You will be better able to achieve your goals

  • You will relieve stress

  • You will cultivate more self reliance

Remote workers hands down have the advantage when it comes to this form of self care! I know and now you know that self talk is where it’s at, but people will still sometimes think you are crazy, so privacy for this practice is definitely a huge plus!

6. Nature

Growing up on a sandbar island seven miles long and one mile wide, the water was never far away. Then for the past six years I lived in Colorado with the mountains always in my sights. I love nature and rightly so. Research shows that being in nature:

  • Helps us get much needed vitamin D and prevents seasonal affective disorder

  • Improves eye health

  • Improves sleep

  • Improves respiratory health

  • Reduces anxiety by increasing the body’s negative charge

  • Improves psychological health

This is why empowering remote leaders to take their remote teams on custom retreats and incorporating proximity to natural beauty is central to the work we do at Rebel + Connect.

However, it is not always possible to go on excursions and the good news is that you can still take advantage of some of the health benefits working from your computer.

Remote workers have the advantage here for a couple of reasons:

#1 If you are a work from home remote worker you can keep plants on your desk AND in your home. They will also help to oxygenate the air!

#2 If you are a work from home remote worker you can place your desk near a window so you can get sunlight and fresh air without waiting years for that corner office!

#3 If you are a work from home remote worker, when you have phone calls, assuming you don’t have “background noise restrictions,” you can get your blue-tooth and go for a walk!

#4 If you are a work from home remote worker you can get some comfy patio furniture and a big umbrella to sit and work outside!!!

#5 If you are a digital nomad remote worker you can easily get out and about, find a local cafe and work in the world!

#6 If you are a digital nomad remote worker you can easily sit by a window whenever you want!

#7 If you are a digital nomad remote worker you can easily go for a walk when it’s time to talk on the phone!

#8 If you are a digital nomad you can always make an adventure out of finding somewhere comfy with shade (and Wi-Fi) to sit outside and work!

So there you have it…

My 6 Ways to Practice Self Care at Your Desk in 2017. I hope you found this helpful.

Best of luck to you in 2017!

P.S. If you have any other great self care tips for the remote workers of the world please share them in the comments section below!

Rebel + Connect is a Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie Birch, Rachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich. We operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. For more about our mission follow us on Instagram, Twitter, connect with us on LinkedIn by clicking on our names above and checking out our LinkedIn Pulse articles. Email us directly at Free Download: Top 15 Things to Consider When Planning a Company Retreat

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