Why working from home works for me
I always dreaded the piercing sound of my alarm. My eyes would open, and reality would hit me like a tonne of bricks. I felt like I hadn’t slept—some nights I didn’t—my joints were achy and heavy, and my brain would instantly battle the impossibility of getting out of bed to go to my office job. As soon as I graduated university and joined the working full-time folks, I couldn’t fathom how people did this every day. Something about it seemed wrong to me—my body and brain just couldn’t handle it. Many mornings I would vomit because I was anxious about being out of my comfort zone all day.
This was five years ago. Back then, I had no idea I was battling a number of debilitating chronic diseases that made leaving my home everyday a significant challenge. As a journalist by trade, I had big—but distant—dreams of working from home full-time, but I had no idea how to make that happen.
Hitting the jackpot
Years passed and I quit the office job, swapping it for a backpack and an English-teaching app on my phone. This was my first taste of working from ‘home’, and I was absolutely hooked. I still didn’t understand why my body felt the way it did, but I felt far more comfortable working like this. I got to sleep in until an hour before my first class, make coffee while doing my morning meditations and waltz into my bedroom office five minutes before teaching. After my first lesson, I’d make breakfast, read, maybe do some life admin and jump back into another few classes. I would have a mini lay down if I needed it, watch a funny TV show if I needed a pick-me-up and take a walk outside whenever I pleased. I felt like I had hit the jackpot—I never wanted to work outside of my home again!
As we returned home from our backpacking trip and I started feeling even more swollen, fuzzy and exhausted than before, I began to receive diagnoses and understand at face value what was going on inside of my body—and it wasn’t pretty. I could finally see why waking up to an alarm in the early morning every day, trudging into the city on the train and sitting down to work in a cold, damp office for eight hours a day didn’t work for me. Even though I knew I couldn’t do it, I still didn’t have a clue how to make this work. Full-time freelance journalists are a myth, right? Well, perhaps not in the pandemic era.
Freelancing & flexibility
After being unemployed for four months, I finally decided to try my hand at freelancing. It was a sluggish and exhausting start, and I truly felt like I would never see the light at the end of the tunnel. Was I destined to write for free or for pennies for the rest of my life because I couldn’t work consistently due to my brain fog?
Luckily, the answer was no. Somewhere along the way, I began working with my first reputable client, and the rest is history. Now my daily grind includes writing about humpback whales, creating NDIS resources, writing commentary on Australian politics and taking the afternoon off if I need it. I wake up to the sound of the birds outside my window, make a wholesome, healthy breakfast and eat it next to my partner. I thrive on the flexibility of my job. I can attend my doctor’s appointments with ease, squeeze in a morning chai latte with a friend and swim in the ocean on my lunch break. I’m still figuring out how to work best with this body of mine, but I’m closer to a pain-free, energetic life everyday purely because I get to work from home.
Working from home a game changer
My life has changed for the better since turning my home into an office, and I don’t think it all comes down to the physical ease of it. Chronic diseases are often exacerbated by stress and anxiety, and by limiting these, optimal health is far more achievable.
For those who work outside of their home and don’t align with it, I highly recommend trying to switch to a working from home setup. While this is not achievable or easy for everyone, we’re in a unique era in society where working from home is often preferable. Working from home for people with disabilities or chronic diseases is a game-changer and can make a huge difference in healing and health maintenance.
Imogen Kars is a journalist, media educator and activist based on the shores of the Great Barrier Reef. She is passionate about social justice, gluten-free tortillas and slow and sustainable travel. You can find her work at earthcorrespondent.com