Staying Healthy While Working From Home
Many people are suddenly facing the need to work from home for the first time, but doing so can be stressful. It’s vitally important to stay healthy during this difficult period, so proper self-care and exercise should be top of your priority list. Here are some easy ways to stay well (and sane!) while stuck at home:
It may sound counter-intuitive – after all, you’re rooted in one place all day – but there are some simple ways to make sure you still get your steps in:
- Use your usual commute time to exercise. It doesn’t need to be an intensive cardio workout (although that’s great if you have the ability); some gentle yoga, a walk, strength training with home weights, tai chi – just find a way to use the extra time to warm up your joints and muscles and mentally prepare yourself for the day (or unwind at the end of it).
- Take regular breaks away from your desk. Between your laptop, your phone, usual household chores and demands of family, it may be tempting to stay sat at your desk while having lunch or a quick coffee. But don’t. Use the opportunity to take an actual break: stand, or walk about the house (or yard, or neighbourhood). The fresh air and change of scenery is of psychological benefit, and the movement has physical benefits.
- Remember to stretch. Take regular, short breaks every hour to stretch your back, your legs and your neck. Sitting at a desk all day (whether in-office or at home) can cause stiffness and back issues, so ensure you’re regularly changing position and not hunching over.
Invest In Proper Equipment
A few smart decisions when setting yourself up for remote work can make the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy work environment. Here’s some simple rules to follow:
- Choose a good chair. You may not have the luxury of the expensive, ergonomic chair you had at work, so look round your home for the best chair for all-day use. It should have a supportive back and align you well in front of your desk. Avoid anything that encourages slouching.
- If you’re comfortable doing so, ditch the chair completely and set up a standing desk. Research shows that this can reduce your long-term mortality risk and it allows more movement throughout the day.
- Designate a separate “working” space away from other activities in the house. This prevents distractions but also means you can maintain the optimal set-up for your needs. It also means you can walk away from work at the end of the day, and maintain good boundaries between work and home.
- Consider investing in an exercise stability ball. It’s great to simply sit on, as it helps with core strength and balance, and provides some relief from your regular chair.
Mental Health Is Important Too
- It may be hard to avoid feeling trapped or isolated while working from home, so remember to take mental health breaks as well. This is best done by setting a schedule that clearly separates working time from relaxing time, and sticking to it.
- Put away your phone! Checking the news or social media constantly will harm both work productivity and your ability to relax. Turn your phone off (or turn off notifications) whenever you are actively doing something else – even if that something else is relaxing.
- Snacking can be tempting while working from home – after all, you stocked the cupboards – but it can quickly lead to unhealthy eating habits. Plan your meals and any snacks at the start of the day. Get them out of the fridge or set them aside somewhere if you have to; just be sure to ring-fence what you’re planning to eat, and don’t deviate when you get the munchies.
Working from home takes some adjustment, so don’t beat yourself up if you struggle initially. Good habits take time to build, but once set can ensure your home and work life both flourish!