The Remote Worker’s Meditation Toolkit

When you work from home, there are all kinds of distractions and temptation close at hand: The mess in the living room that’s calling you to tidy, the TV, the snack cupboard, that cozy-looking bed.
Alexandra Samuel is a tech speaker and data journalist. Her writing on technology, business and productivity appears frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review and JSTOR Daily.
Alexandra Samuel is a tech speaker and data journalist. Her writing on technology, business and productivity appears frequently in The Wall Street Journal, The Harvard Business Review and JSTOR Daily.

That’s why it’s crucial to recognize the specific emotional and cognitive challenges that can disrupt your attention and wellbeing, and develop a toolkit of resources that can support you in addressing the most common situations. Every remote worker’s toolkit should be ready to address the following situations:

Digital overload. So much of our work-from-home days unfolds at the screen. Between video call glitches, lost files and aggravating emails, this screen time is a frequent source of aggravation—which is why it’s helpful to have a go-to resource when you feel your blood start to boil. Try Robert Plotkin’s 10-Day course “Develop Healthy Digital Habits.”

Loneliness. Remote work can be very isolating. Outside of a pandemic, it’s often possible to structure social interaction into your remote work day, perhaps by making a co-working date with a friend, taking your laptop to a coffee shop for a few hours, or really jamming on your to-do list so you can wrap your workday early and spend some time with a friend. For the days when none of that is possible, turn inward with a meditation that acts as an antidote to loneliness. Try Meditation For Loneliness, A Doorway To Connection from Mary Maddux.

Reconnection. As many of us have discovered in this year of isolation, the experience of withdrawing from the world of social connection can create a sense of social anxiety when it’s time to reconnect with others. This rhythm of withdrawal and reconnection will soon become part of the weekly rhythm of our work lives, as more and more of us divide our weeks between home days and office days. To help you make this transition and rediscover your colleagues with an open heart, try Loving Kindness For Your Commute from the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute.

Virtual presence. Running from video meeting to phone call to video meeting is a recipe for feeling like you’re never really present with any one group or conversation. That’s why it’s useful to have a centering or arrival practice that helps you close off one conversation or task, and truly shift gears so you can be present for the next. I like Minute To Arrive Before Every New Meeting Or Task  with Laura Weil.

Movement. One reason this year of home-based work has been hard on so many bodies is because we move less during the course of the day. In my long years of working from home I’ve found it essential to incorporate movement throughout the day, and not just in the form of a gym visit or extended exercise session. That’s where walking meditations come in: In five or ten minutes, I can return to my body, break free of the immobility of my desk, and get the benefits of shifting into a state of mindful awareness. Try Tara Brach’s Walking Meditation Instructions or Bodhipaksa’s Mindful Walking.

Anxiety. Any of us can experience anxiety during the workday—but when you’re working alone at home, there’s no visiting coworker or upcoming meeting to serve as a natural interruption to your anxiety loop. Instead, you need to consciously disrupt that anxious voice in your head with a practice that can bring you back to yourself, like the SOS Anxiety Release from Dr. Irene Cop.

These tools are just a starting point: As you start to tap into the power of meditation as a way of addressing recurring challenges in remote work, you will likely identify other patterns you need to disrupt or address. Keep a running list of your biggest challenges as a remote worker, and you will have a great starting point for building your own personal resource kit.

Meditation. Free.