Remote Work

How To Stay Healthy While Working From Home

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 11 minute read

Millions of individuals had to make the drastic change from commuting to work to commuting to their kitchen tables because of the pandemic. A Yahoo Finance-Harris survey found that by June 2020, 40 percent of American workers were doing so full-time. 

Even more so, because of the ongoing COVID-19 dilemma, many Americans now regularly conduct business from the comfort of their own homes. Those who fall into this category can attest to the stress of adjusting.

Alterations to your routine may become necessary when adopting a work-from-home policy. In certain cases, work environments that were manageable in an emergency may not be suitable for longer periods of time. Working at the same place where you eat, sleep, and hang out with your loved ones isn’t always the best choice for your health. 

Making your home office more sustainable does not require major renovations or a large financial outlay if you take the time to structure your workday around your physical and mental health.

Tips for Maintaining Your Health While Working From Home

Health problems are a common byproduct of any significant life change, as evidenced by shifts in energy levels, body weight, and sleeping patterns. 

Though it’s important to push through any initial anxiety about making the switch to telecommuting, it’s also important to make sure your health is in good shape before making the change. 

The length of time you plan to spend working from home has no bearing on how important it is to prioritize your environment and health.

Have a look at ergonomics

A few days of slouching at the kitchen table or attempting to get work done on the couch may seem harmless, but they can lead to serious health problems in the future. Working from home may be exhausting and even unpleasant if your setup isn’t ergonomically sound. 

This includes things like headaches, back pain, and tired hands and wrists. Make sure your home office is set up properly by consulting the Mayo Clinic’s recommendations:

  • Tweak the settings on your screen. Adjust your computer screen’s height so that the top of the screen is level with your eyes. The ideal distance between you and your screen is no more than arm’s length.
  • Getting up from that chair. Your elbows should make a 90-degree angle when resting on the computer keyboard, so readjust your chair accordingly. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your hips should be perpendicular to the desk at all times.
  • The keyboard has to be checked. Be sure your hands are below your elbows when typing and your wrists are straight.
  • Attempt less. Keep the things you use most close at hand so you don’t have to constantly stretch to get to them, saving yourself unnecessary pain. Put them so far away that you have to get up out of your chair to retrieve them if you can’t store them in drawers or a nearby area.

You may quickly try out different postures if you buy a flexible desk or office chair. If not, experiment with different arrangements to see what works best for you; for instance, placing a yoga block or box under a tall chair to create a footrest can be helpful.

Plan time for physical activity

Working from home can be very productive, but it can also lead to excessive workaholism. Because of the convenience of having everything you need right at your fingertips, you may find yourself less likely to get up and move around than you were at the workplace. 

Therefore, it is crucial to plan periods of physical exercise throughout the day. According to the CDC, healthy individuals should engage in 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. 

It’s an achievable goal that will improve your emotional and physical health if you break it up into 30-minute portions. Plan your workouts as you would an important appointment. 

Try one of these low-cost at-home exercises if you can’t make it to the gym:

  • Try getting out for a stroll around the neighborhood during your lunch break.
  • Participate in a virtual workout with the aid of YouTube or free software like FitOn.
  • Get in shape by borrowing a DVD from your public library. Some libraries even allow you to reserve items online and pick them up without ever having to talk to a human being, which is a great perk for those who want to avoid human interaction.
  • Make time in your schedule for a brief 15-minute session of yoga or jogging.
  • If you’re on a call that doesn’t require you to be at your desk, get up and move around a bit.
  • You should take a short break every hour to stand up and stretch, so set a timer to go off.
  • It’s best to take a break when everyone else who is studying or working at home does as well. Get some fresh air and bond over a game of soccer or a stroll with the dog.
  • Assist your body in its quest for more movement by assigning yourself responsibilities. Take a little break to tidy up your work area by sweeping or vacuuming, and you’ll get some extra exercise as a bonus.

In order to make time for exercise during the day, you need to set aside regular computer breaks. Plus, it might help you refocus your efforts and get back on track, allowing you to accomplish even more.

Place Boundaries

It can be challenging to strike a good work-life balance when you do most or all of your job from home. It’s simple to sneak in some work during family time or let personal matters derail your job efforts.

Setting appropriate limits can help you feel less pressure and achieve a better equilibrium between your professional and personal life. Insomnia and negative thinking are only two of the potential side effects of information communication technology like cellphones and email encroaching on home life, according to a research of 526 educators published in the May 2020 issue of the Journal of Organizational Behavior.

When you no longer have a clear divide between your home and professional lives, boundaries can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance. 

Here are some limits to keep in mind and hopefully uphold:

  • Regular Work Times Set. You can use a calendar app or paper planner to map out your day hour by hour and divide your time between business and personal obligations. While minute-by-minute planning isn’t necessary, it is helpful to separate work and family time into distinct blocks of time.
  • Prepare Clocks. Set alarms on your phone to remind you when it’s time to begin and end your workday, as well as when to take breaks and meals.
  • Establish norms for your coworkers. Inform your coworkers of your availability and any times they should not try to reach you. A simple text message or the email may not seem like much, but it can prevent interruptions during precious family time.
  • Engage in Conversation with Your Relatives. Talk about how you both work best, and how much noise and distractions you can both stand at home. Knowing that quiet time is just temporary and that they will have your full attention after it ends will go a long way toward helping your children comply.
  • Use Contrasting Work Habits. To maximize productivity, it’s best to coordinate work hours with a partner. When only one of you is at the office, the other can tend to household chores, play with the kids, or answer the phone.
  • Draw the curtains. Your home office should ideally be located in a separate room from the rest of your living quarters. You can get more done in a quiet space like a basement, closet, or guest room, and then simply put everything away when the day is done.

Select Healthy Meals and Snacks

All signs point to this happening: Easy access to your kitchen means you’re always tempted by the snacks you keep there. To avoid reaching for chips and sugar, which offer you a temporary boost before leaving you feeling sluggish, fill your fridge and cabinets with nutritious options. 

Prioritize high-fiber and high-protein snacks, which will keep you full for longer without adding many extra calories. Some nutritious options for snacking all day long include homemade popcorn, steamed edamame, a vegetable platter, or beef jerky.

With the convenience of food delivery apps, it can be tempting to eat at your desk while working from home, but this can quickly become expensive and unhealthy. Rather than eating at your desk, it’s best to prepare your meals in advance. 

Taking a pause during the day to eat healthily is recommended, and doing so can help you learn to recognize the signals your body sends you when you’re hungry and when you’re full. 

Mindful eating has been shown to help people who struggle with binge or emotional eating by reducing their overall food consumption, according to research published in Nutrition Research Reviews in 2017. Intense pressure is often present when working from home. Forget about comforting yourself with junk food.

Planned meals don’t have to be complicated or time-consuming to put together. Keep nutritious products on hand in your refrigerator and pantry so you may create a meal plan based on what you already have rather than buying more food than you need. 

Things to have on hand include, but are not limited to:

  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Washed and cut fruit
  • Washed and cut vegetables
  • Edamame
  • Cooked chicken
  • Tuna
  • Mixed greens
  • Hummus
  • Cheese
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Leftovers

You may stay full and productive in the office with a quick and healthy lunch of quinoa salad with chicken, olives, cucumber, and feta or scrambled eggs with tomato and basil. 

Making your own lunch and eating it away from your desk is a great approach to establishing a routine that will help you become more conscious and pick foods that will help you work more efficiently.

Hydrate

Having a coffee maker in the kitchen makes it convenient to get a quick cup whenever you need a pick-me-up if you’re feeling tired during the day. When the office water cooler isn’t around, people tend to drink more coffee than usual or simply forget to drink water.

 To make matters worse, beverages like coffee, sugary sodas, and juices may quickly rack up costs both in terms of calories and total consumption and empty your cupboards. If you’re looking for a cheap and healthy way to hydrate, water is your best bet. 

Have a water bottle handy and make it a point to drink often throughout the day. The Mayo Clinic reports that the United States National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine recommend that men drink 3.7 liters and women drink 2.7 liters of water daily.

If you’re feeling washed down, add some lemon or a floating cucumber for taste, or try some unsweetened green tea for a pick-me-up. Stay away from sugary drinks, and if you must drink caffeine, limit yourself to less than 400 milligrams per day recommended by the Food and Drug Administration in the United States.

Get Social

Working from home can feel lonely if you’re used to conversing with coworkers over coffee breaks or at the water cooler. Despite how it may feel, you are not alone if you are experiencing feelings of isolation. 

According to Buffer’s report, The 2020 State of Remote Work, loneliness is a major challenge for one in five remote employees. Loneliness and isolation exacerbate psychological distress, therefore it’s important to reach out to others whenever possible. 

Regular conference calls shouldn’t replace more informal methods of communication like:

  • Make a Friendlier Conversation. Use a messaging app like Slack or Gmail Chat to keep in touch with your coworkers and share updates about your day.
  • Produce a Closed Facebook Group. Make a closed Facebook group for your workplace and invite your coworkers to share links, laugh at cat videos, start discussions, and generally keep in touch with one another.
  • Arrange a social gathering such as a Happy Hour. To mingle with coworkers and friends outside of the office, try hosting a virtual happy hour. Call a Zoom meeting, come up with a cocktail-related theme, and put your coworkers to the test by asking them to come up with original drinks as you catch up.
  • Join a teleconference. There have been widespread alterations to society as a result of the pandemic. Because of COVID-19, many traditional conferences in the industry have begun offering virtual versions of their events. See if the event’s organizers are hosting any online events, and sign up to participate if they are.
  • Establish a Book Club or TV Show Discussion Group at the Office. Make connections with coworkers over a common interest by starting a book club or TV-viewing group. Have a weekly meeting via Zoom to discuss the show or book after a set viewing or reading deadline has been established.
  • Stop for Coffee. Before getting back to work, arrange some time to have a virtual coffee break with your coworkers in a Slack channel or Facebook group with your manager’s approval, of course.

The isolation you may have experienced during the pandemic course may have left you yearning for contact with loved ones. Your coworkers are a preexisting group of people with whom you have regular contact. Use that to your advantage as a means of meeting new people and strengthening your sense of belonging to a group.

Make an Evening Ritual.

There is a cumulative toll from juggling work and family responsibilities in the same physical location and time period that is inherent to working from home. Feeling overwhelmed on both a mental and physical level is common. 

Insomnia, headaches, poor energy, intestinal troubles, and aches and pains are just some of the symptoms that can arise from chronic stress, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

Self-care routines are recommended to help you wind down at the end of the day, so why not incorporate them into your routine as you wrap up your job responsibilities? Doing so allows you to engage in some much-needed self-care while also telling your brain that the day is over.

If you struggle to wind down at the end of the day, try any of these practices:

  • To reduce the temptation to check your email or instant messages, put away your laptop and switch off your screen.
  • Candlelight can transform a space from business as usual to a cozy haven for the whole family.
  • Once the workday is done, put your phone away and unplug the charger.
  • Get clean with a shower or bath, perhaps combining it with some at-home pampering.
  • Get some exercise to relieve tension from your job. Try jogging, enrolling in an online spin class, or searching for calming yoga videos on a device equipped with an app like Aaptiv.
  • Pursue a passion project. Do something different, whether it’s cooking, watching TV, or listening to a podcast.
  • Meditate. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditating is a great way to alleviate stress, high blood pressure, depression, and sleeplessness. The guided meditations and prompts available in applications like Calm and Headspace might be a great way to get started.

Plan a time to wind down for the day and do something to help you relax so that you can face the workday with renewed vigor the next time it rolls around.

Bottom Line

While there are many advantages to working remotely, there are also some disadvantages. Take care of yourself, whether you’re sharing a home office with your family or feeling lonely and alone. 

Consider the long-term effects on your health if your temporary workplace becomes permanent. What started out as a temporary solution has become a permanent way of life for some. When you’re in survival mode, it’s easy to put your health on the back burner.

Instead, you should make preparations to maintain your physical and mental health, which will allow you to remain productive. These preparations should include setting limits and taking care of your basic needs.

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