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Coworking and Your Mental Health

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It is no secret that the coworking industry is flourishing. People are flocking to spaces that offer flexible work hours, a community aspect and in-house perks in droves. What is the secret of coworking? How can this industry be doing so well? 

Mental health is a taboo subject in our society. We are taught from an early age to bottle our feelings up, leaving them unaddressed and us unfulfilled. Maybe it stems from being in a society where we are taught to conceal our feelings and push them aside. We have lost touch with expressing our emotions that they can cause us detriment down the road. There is a stigma surrounding mental health. The World Health Organization reports approximately 450 million people worldwide have a mental illness. Coworking, while not a sure-fire way to address and tackle mental health, is a step in the right direction. 

The coworking industry, through GCUC, strives to do more in this fight against the stigma of mental health. They have created the #CheckYoMate initiative, which is a movement that inspires you to check up on those around you: in your coworking spaces and your life in general. It is all about “dismantling loneliness and destigmatizing mental illness in the coworking community.” While it is important to check up on your coworkers, make sure you are doing the same for your friends, family members, neighbors, and whoever else you come in contact with. 

One of the best things about working in a coworking space is the community, there is no doubt. According to Global Coworking Unconference Conference, “Coworking is creating communities of happier, healthier, more productive, more connected professionals.” These communities are improving the lives and the mental health of every single person that walks through the door. 

A major component of working in a coworking space is the ability to make your own hours. Maybe you just cannot take working in a cubicle 40 hours a week and it is affecting your mental health. Sitting in such a small space makes you feel small. Your surroundings affect your mental health more than you realize. A coworking space is an alternative that promotes flexibility and freedom. Coworking can alleviate stress in a number of other ways. A space takes care of all the logistics of running an office for you: changing light bulbs, heating and air-conditioning, keeping the refrigerator stocked with snacks, and a myriad of others. All you have to do is sit down and get to work. 

Coworking was introduced as an alternative to working from home. When working from home, you might feel isolated, trapped, and you may slip into bouts of unproductivity as you slump down on the couch with your bowl of popcorn in the middle of the day. Aside from fueling procrastination, large periods of isolation at home just isn’t healthy for us. Humans crave interaction, simple as that. The alternative in a coworking space is the community. Working with others in a space that is not your home helps you separate your work life from your personal life, giving you some peace of mind. You are surrounded by people every single day. There are members all across the space doing their own thing, but you know they are there. You know you are not alone. 

It is unfortunate to think about, but millions of people suffer from some sort of mental health issue every single day. You do not know what is going on in someone’s life. That is what makes the coworking industry so unique. It provides ways for people to connect on an individual level, creating bonds and helping each other become successful in what they do. 

Here are some mental health resources if you are seeking help: 

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 

MentalHealth.gov 

Mental Health America 

Bowling Green Mental Health Resources 

Butterflies and Mud Pies: My 4 Rules for Embracing Summer Break as a Work-at-Home Mom

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Written by guest writer Lindsey DeVore: Hi, I’m Lindsey-a small business owner, former educator and a blessed mom to a little boy. 

Summer break (formerly known as, summer “vacation”) used to conjure up images of long days by the pool, unencumbered free time and endless possibilities for spontaneous get-togethers and adventures with friends. Fast forward to present day as a work-at-home small business owner (with a busy toddler) and the picture looks quite different, to say the least. My goal is to spend these months giving my son the best summer experience possible. Meanwhile, clients are calling, the email box is filling up, and those day-to-day tasks of running and growing a business are not going away.

How can one manage working from home while surviving (and more importantly, enjoying) summer break with their children? I’m sharing my top 4 rules in my life to embrace summer break as a work-at-home mom.

1) Change the narrative.

Summertime presents a challenge for all parents regardless of their schedule and level of work flexibility. Logistics and childcare can be tricky to figure out, however the first challenge I realized I needed to overcome was the story I was telling myself. The narrative that I’m not doing enough for the business, as a parent and the idea that I should be able to seamlessly balance it all. I now believe that balance doesn’t really exist and the expectation that we can achieve it if we only “try harder,” is a self-defeating pursuit. Let go of the notion of balance and find peace in the acceptance of what your current circumstances are, also knowing that they will continue to evolve and change. The truth is while no parent can “do it all” during the summer months, we can do a lot, and by doing our best to take care of our business, ourselves and our family-this is enough, this is more than enough.

2) Lower expectations.

We all have certain expectations for how we conduct our work and home responsibilities, I’ve come to the realization that my standards need to be lowered during the summer months. This is the time to let things go of non-essentials and focus my high expectations to what work tasks must be completed and to the personal priorities that truly matter. Some things will need to be put away and can be picked back up once school starts back; they will survive and will be there waiting. Some things are ripe for the picking during the summer months and I want to take advantage of them-like backyard barbeques, time with extended family, and creating homemade meals with fresh corn on the cob and watermelon. Decide what you want to focus on during summer break and then let the rest go.

3) Get a work plan in place.

When it comes to getting my work tasks done, summer break is the time to channel my most organized, “Type-A” self. I try to be methodical in setting time and physical boundaries around work priorities and sticking to them. It’s a great idea to anticipate when you may have 15, 20, 30 minutes of time to work and have a plan for how to best utilize it- this will lessen feelings of overwhelm and help you get right to knocking to-do’s off your list. Schedule tougher assignments that require quiet and more attention for when you know you’ll have the house to yourself. Consider scheduling a chunk of time each week to work outside of the home at your favorite coffeeshop or coworking space, especially when you want to work on creative and new projects. Time out of the house will also give you a chance to get out of your yoga pants and mingle/converse with other adults (sounds like a vacation to me!)

4) Show yourself grace and kindness.

This is my favorite rule and the one I can struggle with the most. As we’re stretched for time focusing on managing our work and family, its easy to neglect ourselves. We need to show ourselves extra kindness during this crazy season in whatever ways make sense to you. Examples of self-kindness for me may include: unapologetically asking for help, outsourcing household tasks (cleaning, mowing, laundry), saying no to requests and invitations, and having fun whenever I can (Slip and Slide, anyone?) Remind yourself that your health and happiness are a good and essential use of your time.

Summer breaks may be different now that children and work responsibilities fill up the long days, but it can be pleasurable and memorable, nonetheless. I’m choosing to embrace this season of the year (and life) for what it is- tough but magical, long but also fast, and days filled with butterflies and mud pies and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.