How Working Remotely Helped My Mental Health
Escaping to Boracay during the thick of the pandemic was one of the best decisions Danah Gutierrez has ever made!
From Freelancer to Corpo Girl
Having been a freelancer for almost a decade, I absolutely enjoyed working office-free. But that all changed when I became the Public Relations and Corporate Brand Manager for a world-renowned, naturals brand in the country. The adjustment was brutal, but at that season of my life, I knew I needed the discipline. From having my own time and schedule to clocking in from 8 to 5, the change wasn’t easy. The daily commute from Ortigas to Commonwealth was intensive & exhausting, and to be honest, the big transition made me question my decision to go corporate during the first few weeks.
As I was finally getting my groove into my daily office routine and loving my new job, the pandemic hit. The whole country was forced to go on strict lockdown because of the number of Covid-19 cases rising by the hour. The extrovert in me was shaken to the core, because from being out and about meeting people left and right, I didn’t know how to deal with being cooped up in my home for an unknown, prolonged period of time.
The Breakthrough that Broke Me First
My breakthrough was disguised as a panic attack. Back in October 2020, I had a major panic attack in the confines of my studio unit. It made me pause and reflect on the workload I’ve then accumulated, after taking on so much side hustles and projects since I had so much time at home. My sister and I thought it would be a good idea to take a “workation,” and decided to go to Boracay because it had also recently reopened then. After completing the many travel requirements, we packed our bags to stay in the island for two weeks.
To be in the crystal waters with the sun on my skin was the break I terribly yearned for. The process to travel to the island was tedious and grueling, but it was well worth it. My twin sister and I would set up camp somewhere to work during the day, and then leave our laptops behind to catch sunsets with cocktails at hand. It was the most relaxed I’ve been in months since the lockdown started. I loved and enjoyed the beach lifestyle so much that I set out to visit again come January 2021.
Boracay’s charm really got to me during my 2nd pandemic visit, and by March, I packed my bags and moved for good. The return tickets were getting too pricey, and having just turned 30 gave me the guts to do it. Of course, I asked for the green light from my mom and my boss, and when I got them, away I flew.
Work from Beach (WFB)
Working from the island definitely has its perks. From having the beach as my playground to building new connections, I felt renewed. My anxiety melted as I baked under the sun, and the cool blue hues of the sea just gave an overall sense of tranquility and calmness which my mind and body desperately craved. Studies even show that living close to the ocean gives an elevated mood and causes spikes in our happy hormones. WFB forced me to physically move as well, coming from an almost immobile routine in my home back in the city.
Island living and working definitely gave me back my zest for life. It made me marvel and be in awe at nature, it pushed me to pursue physical fitness, and it encouraged me to be my happy, extroverted self with all the friends I made, local and tourists alike. Having much more time for recreation and play made me want to do better at work, because finally, there is balance.
I was present and savoring my beach time while I was away from my desk, and it made me focus and be much more productive when I was finally at it. The whole experience just improved my mental clarity and allowed me to be much more at ease with my day-to-day. Commute is fuss-free all around the island, people are mostly available to hang out when you invite them, and there are simple joys all around (free sunset-watching, various water activities, full moon parties, 10-Peso isaw sticks—the list just goes on and on).
Now that many companies have embraced the hybrid work system where people can work from home some days, I know for a fact it’s highly beneficial for people to plan a “workation” from time to time. The break from the usual home-office routine does a lot of good not just physically, but mentally as well. The serenity gifted by the sea is something to breathe in and savor, and even if it’s just for a few days, your mind, body, and soul will thank you for it. Trust me, it’s happier to work by the sea.—Danah Gutierrez
Follow Danah on Instagram at @thedanahsoars