Working remotely has its challenges. A wellness coach may help!

Author: NDWorks

Sue Ryan Car Web

Sue Ryan, director of media relations, misses her commute to work.

Mary Shafer and Martha Vanderheyden are wellness coaches at the Wellness Center on the Notre Dame campus. They are certified coaching professionals who help faculty and staff identify life challenges and make positive changes for health and well-being. Normally, a coach meets in person, one-on-one with clients for about 30 minutes every week or every other week, a service that’s free to employees.

In this season of social distancing and working remotely, we may be experiencing common struggles and have similar questions. Mary and Martha are here to coach us through this unusual time. 

In this edition of “Ask a Wellness Coach,” Mary helps Sue Ryan, director of media relations, consider how to unwind after work now that there’s no commute.

Wellness Logo Web

SR: "There are certainly benefits to working from home, however, I find that I’m really missing my 25-minute commute. I never fully appreciated that alone time in the car when I could sit quietly and digest the work day, plan for dinner, prepare to hear about the day that my teenagers had, think about what chores or bills needed to be addressed at home, or just turn up the tunes and sing out loud to release my stress. Now, I close my laptop and 2 seconds later, it’s “what’s for dinner?” “I need more shampoo!” “Can you help me with this scholarship application?” There’s no down time. I hop directly from one full-time job to the next one. I’m realizing now that I needed that 25 minutes to decompress from the day shift and get a second wind for the night shift. Any tips?“

MS: “I suggest Sue create a structure for working from home that mimics a normal work day schedule. I’m gauging that she finds her commute to be a great time to reflect and gather her thoughts for the day, which worked well for her. Maybe at the end of her at-home work day, schedule 20-30 minutes to focus solely on a decompression activity. This can involve a multitude of things like meditation, listening to music or quiet time to herself to prepare for that ‘night shift.’ I also encourage creating healthy boundaries that are realistic and aid in creating the appropriate space for our needs when constantly immersed in our work/home/family life simultaneously. For instance, creating ‘safe spaces’, if possible, for work life that while in this space you and your family respect that only work will be focused on there. Boundaries could also look like time frames, that until 5 p.m. we will not bombard mom with home life.”

Do you have a question for our wellness coaches? If you’re comfortable sharing your story with readers, email If you would prefer to meet virtually with a coach, call 631-2366 to make an appointment.

Originally published by NDWorks at on April 13, 2020.