When the COVID-19 pandemic struck and staying in became the new normal, my inner extrovert had a panic attack. What was pure bliss for some of my friends and colleagues, became some kind of Orwellian nightmare for me. Home may be where the heart is, but it certainly wasn’t where I expected to spend most of my time at.

In the recent years, I’d grown so used to being out and about, traveling for work, and meeting new faces everyday. To replace these with Zoom meetings and working from my home felt alienating and tiresome. Yet after two months, I found some peace with this newfound lifestyle.

While the Internet is full of ways one can find joy at the workplace, few offer ideas for being happier at home. Here are some worth trying:

1. Create a work space you love

Blurred lines between work and personal life is one of the obvious downsides of working remotely. Counter this by segregating your work desk from your resting area and creating a space that sparks productivity. Have ample light at your work desk, note books at the ready, and a tech set-up that allows for productive telecommuting—think earphones and a good webcam if you don’t have one built-in. Handpick items that are aesthetically pleasing to you, say a couple of motivational posters or houseplants if you fancy bringing nature indoors. In fact, having some lush greenery is said to help reduce both physiological and psychological stress.

2. Find a stay-home hobby you enjoy

Judging by the empty baking shelves at the supermarkets, it’s not far fetched to assume that many of us have found solace in whipping up a storm in our kitchens. While stuck at home, feed your urge to create and learn by picking up new hobbies online, whether it’s baking or learning a new language. If staying fit and healthy is your agenda, find an online workout class offered by your favourite local gym, If you miss exploring, embark on some armchair traveling by joining online museum or city tours. Meanwhile, online courses are aplenty if you’re looking to level up your professional skills—from design-centric ones like Adobe Creative Suite to masterclasses on public speaking.

3. Declutter your home

Since home is where you’ll be spending most of your home during this pandemic, it pays to make your abode as cozy and comfortable as possible. We’re not talking about a full-blown Marie Kondo makeover, but if that’s what you’re up for, wonderful! Think little things that go a long way, like making your bed each morning, clearing out a full bin, removing expired items from your fridge, and vacuuming common spaces. Clutter increases one’s stress levels, and if you’re working from home, that’s one good reason to start cleaning up,

4. Do something nice for your family and friends

Humans crave interaction and connection, no matter how much of an introvert they claim to be. While staying home, keep in touch by calling your loved ones often, enjoying a meal with them over Zoom, or even sending them a hand-written letter if you’re feeling old-school. With delivery services widely available these days, consider mailing them a cake, a bouquet of flowers, or a random little gift just to remind them that you miss their presence. Alternatively, drive up to their door and give them a surprise delivery—just don’t forget to wear your mask.

5. Connect with your social media community

You don’t have to be an influencer or a brand-owner to start connecting with your online community. Start by making meaningful interactions your top priority, such as sharing news (don’t forget to check that it’s from a reputable source!) that matter, as well as commenting on and liking your family and friends’ photos. Meanwhile, build your professional presence with portfolio sites or even LinkedIn, to help ensure a good career network that could potentially buoy you during this recession.

6. Make meaningful memories with the people you live with

While staying connected with loved ones outside of your home, don’t forget to forge meaningful memories with the people you live with. Spending more time than usual with them can inevitably stir up conflict and argument, but that only means that learning to communicate effectively becomes key. Learn to set aside time to bond, such as playing boardgames, cooking, or having a movie marathon together. And don’t forget to make time for yourself—such as finding your own sacred space to recharge at the end of each day.

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