6 Ways to Make Sure Home Still Feels Like Home

When cities started following their own versions of Safer at Home orders, we immediately heard from our OneTable community members about how hard it was to make the home-space feel special enough for Shabbat during the pandemic. Given our homes are now being used for so many other purposes from work calls to pilates classes to therapy sessions, transitioning the same home-turned-office/gym to feel fitting for a Shabbat dinner experience (alone, or with housemates) would require extra attention and pizzazz.

Soon enough, we started to realize that the challenge wasn’t unique to transitioning the home space for elevated Shabbat dinner purposes, but that our OneTable coworkers were facing this sort of challenge every afternoon when attempting to wind down from the work day, too. Some of us live alone, some share our space with others, and this pandemic looks different for everyone. We spoke to two OneTable Field Managers to find out how they’re attempting to maintain their work-from-home v. live-at-home balance.

Dani: Reporting to you live from my dining table, which also doubles as OneTable LA headquarters, board game tournament destination, and the only spot in my apartment with a piece of art on its walls. At the end of each day, I have to figure out how to reorganize all the little piles that have accumulated across the table (post its, pens from nearly every restaurant in LA, my notebook, all of the beaded bracelets I slowly pulled off my wrists throughout the day + my blue light lenses) + transition our ‘dining room’ back to its intended use. But, I also know there’s something important about keeping our sacred space exactly that — sacred — especially during these WFH days. The question remains, though, how do I maintain the sanctity of this dining table after work hours? How do I transition our open floor plan from my office space to happy hour central / a DIY sushi bar / a stretch studio / and most importantly, to home?

Screenshot of Dani from OneTable on a Zoom video call, smiling while holding a glass of white wine and sitting at a wooden table with a lit white candle
photo of brunette woman smiling, holding a glass of water in one hand and a green watering can in the other, watering a pot of plants

Natalie: As I end my day as OneTable Colorado Field Manager at my kitchen-counter desk, surrounded by a coffee mug, glass of water, and the food bowls of breakfast and lunch, my body is literally aching to move and my eyes are begging me to detach from all screens. I need some reminders of how to turn off my work brain and turn on my “rest + digest” mode. As a yoga teacher, this usually involves tending to my body through movement; as a plant mamma, it means watering those thirsty spider plants; and as a neat-freak Virgo, it means cleaning up that messy kitchen counter so I can start my evening fresh. 

We’ve come up with a list of tips, organized by the categories that we find helpful to focus on when transitioning not only your space but also your mind + body for the end of the work day. Evoking the senses can help you shift your mind. These are just some of the things that we find ourselves coming back to during this WFH period:

Dani: Start with your literal body.

  • If you’re able, step out to your balcony/fire escape/backyard or just open the window and stick your head out. Getting fresh air has a huge impact on the rest of your body.
  • Take a shower (or bath?!). There seem to be morning-shower people and night-time shower people but TBH, I’m a post-work pre-dinner shower fan. There’s nothing that helps me mark a break in my day more clearly than a 10 min rinse. Apply a face mask. Do something tactical to begin feeling refreshed. This is all about signaling a shift to your body, to then signal the shift to your mind!
  • Change your physical space. Move around! Devote one spot to work, and the rest of the spots to the rest of life! Sometimes I glance at the time mid-afternoon, surprised that so much time has passed without having even noticed it; these days, I’ve been spending the first half of the day in one spot and the second half in another – just to more actively recognize the passing of time.
  • A little~Virgo thing~ I learned from my very Virgo husband: Do the dishes. Doing something to get the home looking and feeling clean and ready for your arrival. Do the hard work during your lunch hour so that your time spent at home feels even more luxurious. It’s not necessarily about doing the dishes but it is about having the dishes done by the time you’re ready to emerge from your work day into the glory that is 5pm on a Wednesday.

Natalie: Shake it off, stretch it out.

  • Try some yoga. Take 10min to open up your shoulders, stretch your fingers from typing all day, do a hip stretch from all that sitting.
  • Pump it up. Create a short heart pumping circuit: 10 pushups, 1min plank, 15 squats. 
  • Dance it out. Press play on 3 of your favorite songs and move your body in whatever way speaks to you. Come up with a playlist you return to every day that cues your body for winding down + transition.
  • Turn things upside down.
    • Sit down on the floor, bring your sit bones up to the wall, and send your legs up the wall–voila! Your blood will start pumping easily from your lower limbs back up to your heart, revitalizing you and your heart space. 
    • Wanna get fancy? try a handstand or headstand! 

Dani: Give your eyes a break, too.

    • Get your eyes off the screen. This one has been surprisingly hard. Since starting WFH, I’ve noticed how tired my eyes get after a day of Zoom meeting after meeting; I often just want to spend some post-work me-time scrolling through Instagram, catching up on the tabs of articles I’ve opened throughout the day or totally zoning out over a Gilmore Girls episode. Making time to read those articles or watching a heart-warming episode can totally be a valid break for the mind and a way to transition into that me-time. But, it’s also important to think about how to get your eyes their potentially much-deserved break from the blue-lit screens. In addition to all the other tips in here that suggest using your body to switch up the mood, consider these: 
        • Grab a book or puzzle. Keep your mind active but take a break from the blue-light.
        • Go for a walk + call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while — keep your body active.
        • Get playful. Again, it’s all about giving your eyes a break. Ban.do has this awesome collection of coloring pages and reflection worksheets.
        • Meditate. Take a nap. Do something with your eyes closed.

Natalie: Light up your senses.

  • Light a scented candle. Inhale and welcome the fragrance of something new.
  • Got a houseplant or vase of flowers? Approach your little piece of nature and breathe in all the scents it has to offer.
    • [I said I was a plant mamma but TBH I’ve killed more plants than I’d like to admit. This is really all about your daily practice of tending to them!] 

Dani: The power of wine, and other nice things.

  • Ok here’s the thing about prepping dinner. I never want to immediately jump into full-out making dinner after my work day because then the day just feels super short. But, I’ve recently been spending the first 15 mins of post-work time just preparing a few ingredients for dinner, and this has been such a nice way to break up my time and to get a head start on preparing our feast, without fully diving into chef-mode.
  • Pouring myself a glass of rosé or preparing a lil happy hour treat feels like the most obvious call for my mind and body to exit the work day.

Natalie: Sound it out.

  • Reach out to family or friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Listen to the voices of others and catch up while putting away the trimmings of your work day.
  • Turn up the jams. Create a playlist that transitions you from your work vibe into your evening vibe. Whether that’s EDM,  jazz, white noise, or top 40, use music as a way to tell yourself the work day is over. And don’t forget to check out our Spotify playlist.
  • Talk It Out. Give yourself a verbal pat on the back and congratulate yourself for a work day well done. Then tell yourself — outloud! in the mirror! — that you’ve done enough and you are enough, and you’re ready to transition into a relaxing work-free evening. 
  • Pause. Take a moment to close your eyes and listen to the sounds of your breathing and the thumping of your heart beat. Notice the subtle sounds that exist within you. 
@onetableshabbatThat ##workfromhome feeling 🔜 that ##FridayNightMagic feeling. ##fliptheswitchchallenge ##drake ##quarantinestories ##Shabbat ##jewishtiktok

♬ original sound – onetableshabbat

OneTable empowers people who don’t yet have a consistent Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable, and valuable. The OneTable community is funded to support people (21-39ish), not in undergraduate studies, and without an existing weekly Shabbat practice, looking to find and share this powerful experience.

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