Hello everyone! I’m Camden, a guest Blog Editor at MatchaAlternatives.com. As someone who enjoys putting about a 75% effort into being healthy, I am so excited to be working with and learning from everyone here about the benefits of teas!
The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted all of us in so many ways. For me, it means that I am now working and studying remotely like many of us are. As a grad student at a school based in London, being stuck home in the U.S. means that I am now also working on my master's thesis remotely and internationally. I will be the first to admit that it is hard. I have never been someone who is most productive at home, and so finding little ways to stay happy and focussed have been integral to my mental health during this time.
With all this juggling of multiple jobs and a masters, I have come up with some working and studying from home tips. There’s also a reason why I’m here with MA - they always involve tea!
- The importance of a morning routine
- Dedicated work space + the trimmings
- The upside to life at home!
- Schedules and boundaries
- Things to look forward to
These are based mostly from my own experience but also I checked several other blogs in case there was anything new and exciting I could add for you. Give it a read through and then comment your own tips! Lord knows we all need as much help as we can get during these tough times.
1. Have a Morning Routine
I start my day at 6:30 AM, and if I am being honest with you, I’ve never been the wake-up-and-soul-cycle type. So to wake myself up to an appropriate level of consciousness, I like to start it with a cup of caffeinated tea. Despite a coffee addiction that has been at least 10 years in the making, I decided that our new lifestyles would be a good opportunity to try something different for my morning jolt. After reading the blog on Yerba Mate tea, I realized that would be a perfect substitute for coffee. On top of having just about the same caffeine content, it provides tons of other benefits including helping with allergies and stimulating my immune system. The increasingly cold mornings here in Portland, Maine have provided the perfect conditions to enjoy some Roasted Ginger Chai Yerba Mate.
This peaceful time, before the work day starts and all our stresses return, is very special to me. It feels like the only part of the day where my time is uniquely my own and I like to savor it as much as I can. I often take my tea to the living room in my apartment, and enjoy the morning light in my favorite chair. Sometimes I will use this time to catch up on the news by listening to a podcast (because 6:30 AM is too early for doom-scrolling Twitter), read a few pages of a book, or even just tidy up around my apartment. However I spend those moments of mindfulness before the work day begins, I always find that they bring me some peace and gratitude. I have found that this quiet routine is the best morning routine for success.
2. Have a Dedicated Work Space That You Actually Like
If you are like me, and you have Pavlov-ed yourself into only being able to work in that one corner of your school’s Library, or that one coffee shop that has perfect ambient sound, you may be struggling right now. It hasn’t been easy, but by creating a workspace that I enjoy being in, I have significantly increased my work from home productivity.
Everyone has a different methodology for this, and I decided to try a direct approach by recreating those environments. One of my favorite places to work here in Portland, Maine was Bard Coffee, a simple but delicious cafe in the heart of the Old Port. Thinking back to those precious pre-Covid times, I tried to identify what about the coffee shop made me more productive. The most obvious was the dull background noise of other people being productive or socializing! I was able to replace that fairly easily using Coffitivity, a website that allows you to play the sounds of various coffee shop settings. If that isn’t for you, you can find hours and hours of ambient sound on YouTube (or for those lucky people who have ordered from MatchaAlternatives before, every order gets a free 30 minute Norwegian ambient music track).
The second thing I did was recreate the reason for going to a coffee shop in the first place - the luxury of having a delightful hot beverage to accompany my work.
The other day, my roommate found the most adorable yellow tea pot at a yard sale, and so, after thoroughly cleaning it, I have been brewing a small pot of tea and serving it to myself a la the coffee shop days! Having the pot of tea sitting next to me, ready to pour a refill into my cup, has been so helpful in increasing the amount of time I am able to stay productive. If you have the perfect cute teapot to be your new coworker, tag us on Instagram so we can see! And if you’re searching for one that doesn’t work out, you can always try our adorable and functional Cheerful Tea-for-One Teapot - who doesn’t want a happy little deskmate?!
Recently, the weather has been changing in Maine and the air has been feeling distinctly like fall. In light of this seasonal shift, I have been turning to my package of Matcha Alternatives Apple Cinnamon Crumble Rooibos for a nice treat on my mid morning break. I have been loving this because 1) it smells and tastes as delightful as advertised and 2) the process of preparing a midday cup of tea is something that I have found quite soothing amidst the chaos of my schedule.
It tastes better and feels like more of a mindful practice than running to the office kitchen to pour myself a cup of burned coffee, from the pot that Kyle from accounting made three hours ago, no question. Additionally, something about Autumn just gets me in the mood to study!
3. Don’t Forget the Benefits
Many aspects of our new work situations are unpleasant, however there are also some serious upsides! No morning commute means more sleep, or more time for your morning routine. It also means that you can enjoy being in your own space. With your kitchen right there, what's stopping you from fixing yourself a fresh and lovely lunch each day?
Going for a walk to stretch your legs and clear your mind is also a great way to take advantage of not being tethered to your desk at the office. I am lucky to live close to the ocean, so I enjoy getting up and going for a short walk as a break.
I’ve found that taking those spare minutes that I used to spend gossiping with a coworker and putting them into another small yet necessary time waste, is a great way to feel like I still have some control over my time. One thing that I like to do is find a simple recipe to bake during the work day, during small breaks in the day. A few minutes here to add ingredients and stir, a few more here and there to portion and put in the oven, and a few more minutes later on to remove and plate! If you are working from home with kids, this could also be a fun way to keep them entertained while you work. ;-)
I like having this little at home bake-off during my day because it's a nice mental refresh, and it also provides a tasty accompaniment to your pot of tea. Nothing completes the coffee house vibe like a delicious homemade baked good. Come back to our blog later this Fall and you’ll find an amazing Earl Grey Shortbread recipe based on our Classy Earl Grey Red Rooibos!
4. Schedules and Boundaries
While everyone appreciates a coworker or employee who will go the extra mile, it’s important to put your health first. It is easy to get burnt out while working from home, and one way to prevent this is to adhere to the same hours you worked when in office. The founders of MA, Elizabeth and Vientiene are all too familiar with this pitfall - working from their laptops location-independent for years, time zones coming and going, they tell me, doesn’t help either!
I am currently operating on a very busy schedule, between working two jobs, interning, and writing a thesis. Nothing works better when it comes to budgeting my time than writing it down. If you’re a GCal person, all the power to you, but for me, something about a physical planner seems absolutely vital.
It might sound a little nuts, but I take the time each week to write out what job I will be doing and when, and I make sure to stick to those exact hours. If I schedule three hours of thesis work, I commit to those three hours and then stop at the end. My personal philosophy is that this is even important during smaller tasks, like a lunch break, or even preparing that pot of focus-aiding Dragonwell green tea.
This one is definitely for personal preference, as I know plenty of people who prefer to take these sorts of breaks spontaneously. Really there is no wrong way to schedule your time, as long as you have established clear and healthy boundaries around when you will and will not work, and don’t forget breaks!
5. Plan Things to Look Forward To
As I finally start to wrap up my day, I often find it hard to unwind from all that focus. I usually start with 30 minutes of meditation, followed by 90 minutes of slow flow yoga - just kidding! No I don't!
Once I finally close the laptop, I usually hop in the shower, throw on some cozy clothes, and plop myself on the couch to watch some TV with my roommates - recently it’s been reruns of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. While Kourtney complains about the family vacation to Wyoming, I enjoy a cup of Chamomile tea with the Classically Cardamom Ginger Chai Blend added!
I know what you might be thinking - Chai before bed?! Camden how do you sleep at night?! WELL SURPRISE; all of Matcha Alternatives’ Chai Blends are caffeine free, making them a great tea for sleep. Adding the Chai Blends to your favorite nighttime tea is REM-cycle safe, and makes for a real end of day treat! Knowing that at the end of each day I will get to have this time to unwind and enjoy some simple pleasures like chai tea really helps keep me going during my long work hours.
A Note from Camden
Despite living in such uncertain and challenging times, I believe there are so many small ways to practice mindfulness and find happiness within our new routines. Hopefully this blog has given you some new ideas. If there is anything that you do to make your life better right now, share it with us in the comments, or tag us in a picture on Instagram!
The last few months have been so busy, and writing this blog provided me with some nice time for reflection. I am looking forward to not only being more conscious about the routines I talked about here, but incorporating some of your tips and routines as they flow in from IG as well!
Spice Mix Ingredients: Cardamom, Ginger, Black + White pepper, Cinnamon, Clove, Nutmeg
Wake up and get healthy with this gingery mate chai, blended with exotic spices from India
Imagine pulling a perfect apple crumble from the oven, smelling the sweet cinnamon steam and the toasted almonds sprinkled on top
BONUS: FeelGood Music with Every Order!
All of the information regarding the herbs, botanicals, minerals, vitamins, etc., is information drawn from traditional use data or academic research and should be regarded as such. If you, the reader, has a health or medical concern, please consult your healthcare professional. The information found here is not meant to diagnose, treat, prescribe or cure and has not been evaluated by the FDA. This information is for educational purposes only.
References for Tips on Working from Home
Castrillon, Caroline. “10 Tips For Working Remotely During Coronavirus” Forbes, April 5, 2020. forbes.com/sites/carolinecastrillon/2020/04/05/10-tips-for-working-remotely-during-coronavirus/
Cox, Mark.”How To Stay Sane While Working From Home During COVID-19” April 2, 2020. https://red.msudenver.edu/2020/how-to-stay-sane-while-working-from-home-during-covid-19.html
Morgan, Stephany. “Yerba Mate Tea: What is it and why is everyone talking about it?” Matcha Alternatives, August 1, 2020. https://matchaalternatives.com/blogs/the-ma-blog/yerba-mate-tea-what-is-it
Further Reading Related to Tips on Working from Home