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How Running Saves My Work-at-Home Routine

Part of what I love about working from home is having the freedom and the flexibility to take a 30-minute break and use the time to exercise—something that is very important to me. But what I’ve really noticed lately is that taking a break to exercise—especially to go running outside—can be a major productivity booster for me. What’s more, I’ve found that it greatly supports my emotional health and prevents me from falling into the “work-at-home doldrums.”

Around 2:00 p.m., after staring at my computer from about 6:00 a.m. onward with only a short break for lunch and intermittent breaks to help my toddler go potty (something she won’t let the sitter do for her yet 😒), I generally hit a wall: my eyes feel strained, my body feels rubbery, and my mind feels anxious and fuzzy at the same time. This might be something that all employees experience regardless of whether they work at home or at an office, but I feel like the lack of social interaction that results from working at home really augments my mid-afternoon mental fog.

I’ve discovered that when I hit this wall, if I take a short break to exercise I am able to return to my desk feeling refreshed, which enables me to focus better on my remaining tasks and finish out my work day strong. Any sort of exercise helps, whether it’s doing a workout tape (this one is my favorite because it offers short options that can be done on their own or mixed and matched) or going for a run either on the treadmill or outside. However, running outside seems to be the biggest mood booster, probably because getting outside provides enough psychological and physical distance from my work to allow me to more fully recharge. Being out in nature and (often) among other human beings also increases my energy and makes me feel less isolated when I sit back down in my home office.

I don’t always have the opportunity to go outside for a run, but when I do it’s really a game changer for my work day—and it makes a huge difference in how I feel mentally and emotionally at night: on days I’m able to get out of the house to exercise, I feel so much more energetic, inspired, and balanced.

Do you experience the mid-afternoon work-at-home doldrums? What do you do to prevent yourself from falling into them? Share below!