In the past few years, the global shift from working in an office to working from home has been a rollercoaster ride for many people. Whilst some rejoiced in being able to cut out the commute time to and from work, others have struggled with the lack of structure.
The sudden change in work environment and lack of information on how to best navigate it has been challenging for many people, to say the least.
The Challenges Of Working From Home
Working from home for lengthy periods of time poses many problems for people. The physical problems are likely at the forefront, such as bad posture and pain from non-ergonomic furniture and lack of movement. This also includes maintaining a healthy diet and balancing it with proper daily exercise.
However, the physiological and social challenges are just as problematic, if not worse. Remote working and self-isolation have reduced face-to-face time with other people to virtually zero, with many people attributing their growing feelings of loneliness to this.
There is also the clear problem of avoiding distractions at home whilst staying motivated throughout the entire day, and working out what the balance is between life and work when it all comes together in one room.
In this article, we provide easy-to-follow and succinct tips on how you can stay healthy (physically, physiologically, and socially) whilst working from home.
1. Stay in touch
One of the biggest issues that arose when people transitioned to working from home was the increased feelings of loneliness and being out of touch with the world.
The good thing about working from home though, is that even though you don’t see your colleagues face to face, a simple message on any instant messaging platform can connect the both of you right away.
If your company uses tools such as Slack or Zoom, you can access all your company colleagues with a simple click. It might help to schedule quick coffee catch ups first thing in the morning, or wrap up meetings at the end of the day, just so you have something to look forward to.
Staying in touch on a regular basis will definitely help you feel less isolated.
2. Stick to a routine
This is one of the harder tips to follow, but once you establish a proper routine and follow through with it for more than a few days, you’ll feel much better about your work.
Routine helps you work clearly towards your goals, know when to switch on and off, maintain a balance between work and life, and stay focused with the task at hand.
You can start the day with something as simple as getting your coffee and sitting down at your desk by a certain time every day. You can also finish with something simple like switching off your screen and opening the door to your home office.
Sticking to a routine and setting boundaries will do wonders for your productivity.
3. Schedule regular movement and exercise
When working from home, it becomes quite easy to sit at your desk, immersed in tasks from the morning until the end of the day.
However, getting up and moving your body regularly not only gives it the break that it needs, but will also help your mental state as well. Exercise not only offers physical benefits to the body but also physiological benefits.
Dedicating a small window of the day to doing regular exercise will pump your endorphins and help regulate your stress levels.
A tip from us would be to spend the usual time that you’d be commuting to and from work, to exercise instead; go for a jog, do a quick YouTube workout, or simply walk your pet.
4. Eat a healthy diet
Certain foods can make you feel tired and sleepy, whilst others energize you and keep you fuller for longer.
For those who are unsure, a diet that is considered healthy usually consists of nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat dairy product (see ref. 1).
Try to limit your intake of foods that are high in sugar and salt as well as saturated fats, and only treat yourselves occasionally with processed foods.
Some people have said that they felt their snacking habits have gone through the roof since working from home. Try to curb this by scheduling your snack sessions, or switching out your processed snacks such as chips and cookies to fruit and nuts.
5. Stay hydrated while working from home
This is an important tip, and probably one that you’ve been hearing about for a long time.
Drinking plenty of fluids during the day is essential for hydration. If you’re not hydrated, this can lead to issues such as mood swings, increased hunger pains, and constipation (see ref. 2).
Water is obviously the best option, but you can mix it up with coffee and tea throughout the day. It is recommended that you avoid over-consumption of sugary beverages such as fruit drinks, soft drinks and energy drinks.
6. Invest in ergonomic equipment
Some people have reported feeling increased back pain whilst working from home, and this can be attributed to poor posture and poorly built furniture.
Use an office chair with armrests as well as an adjustable seat height that allows you to comfortably rest your feet on the floor. Your hips and knees should be rested at a 90-degree angle. Adjust the curvature of your backrest so that it’s not too far back.
You may want to invest in a standing work desk as well. This can encourage you to avoid staying stagnant in one position for lengthy periods of time whilst still tending to work.
If you are already experiencing back pain, you should consider trying yoga but also acupressure. For more info, check out our articles about the best yoga poses for low back pain and the best acupressure points for low back pain.
7. Setup a dedicated workspace
At home, you are far more likely to be distracted and interrupted by things unrelated to work. Setting up a comfortable, dedicated space in your home will do wonders for your focus.
Many people won’t have the luxury of having their own home office space, but there are ways you can get around that. Find a space such as a corner of a room and claim it as your work station. You can also use one end of the dining table if you can’t find another area.
Things to be mindful of when selecting an area for your work space: try and avoid places where there are obvious distractions; avoid areas where people congregate throughout the day, and look for where you can get a bit of sunlight.
8. Practice mindfulness
This may be an entirely new concept for some people. Mindfulness is a state of being where you focus on being aware of the present experience without making a judgment about it (see ref. 3).
When you dedicate a lot of time towards problem-solving and planning ahead, you are far more likely to feel stressed out and anxious.
A great way to practice mindfulness is through meditation. Through meditation, people can expect to experience improved attention, decreased job burnout, improved sleeping habits, and even improved diabetes control.
9. Avoid neck and shoulder injuries
Neck and shoulder injuries are commonplace for people working in front of the computer 5 days a week.
It is important to ensure you avoid any of these strains through regular targeted stretching and movement.
Having a standing work desk will help alleviate any of these strains, however if you don’t have one, try the following:
- Stretch one arm across your body to the opposite shoulder, and use your opposite forearm to gently apply pressure. Repeat on your other side.
- Lie down with your knees pointing upwards and feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your hands criss-crossed over your chest. Tighten your core and lift your shoulders up whilst holding your neck in a neutral position. Lower yourself back down, and repeat a few more times.
- Sit with your legs at 90-degree and your back straight. Take turns to gently extend your neck back so that you’re looking up at the ceiling without any pain, looking down with your chin lowered, and looking left and right without any pain. Hold these positions for 5-10 seconds.
10. Change It Up
Where you first set up your work desk doesn’t have to be where you stay for the duration of your work-from-home period.
People often get so lost in their mountain of work that they forget that a simple switch-up of scenery can do wonders for their creativity and focus.
Rather than staring at the wall in the corner of the room for weeks on end, maybe switch it up with sitting in the kitchen every two weeks.
Find out what other areas are suitable for working and simply change it up.
Work From Home Health Tips – In Short
Tthe COVID-19 pandemic has thrown people off their usual routine and posed problems that we could not have predicted, however with most of these problems there are solutions.
The important ones are the ones that you should try and build into your everyday life, such as healthy eating, regular exercise, social interactions, and having a routine. Don’t forget, though, that having a dedicated work area and investing in ergonomic equipment are just as important.
If you follow our top 10 tips as listed above, you will be actively working to put yourself in a good and healthy position, physically, mentally, and socially.