How To Take Care Of Your Health While Working From Home?
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has changed economies on a global scale. It has also changed how we interact with people, and even how we carry out work! With sanitizing and social distancing policies encouraged, working from home took on becoming the new norm and the safest choice for many companies.
Statistics confirm that 88% of (business) organizations on a worldwide scale, encouraged and some even made it mandatory to work from home. This was after COVID-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic. However, not all is rosy in the working from home reality.
Some of the challenges that have been attributed to working from home include but are not limited to:
- Feeling demotivated
- Finding it hard to balance between work and social life
- Finding it hard to exercise
- Finding it hard to avoid distractions; staying focused
- Feeling lonely; too isolated
- Slipping into bad eating habits
Before the unfortunate entrance of COVID-19 into our lives, almost 98% of individuals that worked in an office can attest to having a fairly structured day while working in an office environment. They can also admit to having some sort of balance between the work tasks/projects they had to complete, the meeting they had to attend, and the timed breaks that they would take.
With quite a large portion of the world’s population working from home, one question about healthy habits as a home worker commonly comes up. At first glance, it may seem like a silly question. I mean, you are working from the comfort of your home, no need to commute from home to work, so you have time! Moreover, you get to have more sleep!
Well, believe it or not, even while working from the comfort of your home, you can easily slip right into habits that impact your health negatively. In this article, I will guide you through, “How to take care of your health while working from home?” So, let us dive into it, shall we?
Working from home should not in any way negatively impact your health. It all involves tweaking the small and minuscule details. For instance, setting up an dedicated workspace instead of working from your couch and/or bed will save you from unnecessary back pain as well as neck pain.
Establishing a structured break schedule that you adhere to will also save you from gaining unnecessary weight. And while we are on that point, going the extra mile to develop an exercise routine would help you stay physically and mentally fit.
You probably never imagined it could be this simple now did you?
The Golden Rules of Taking Care of Your Health While Working From Home
- Setup A Dedicated Workspace
This simply involves setting up a home office workspace. As comfortable and warm your bed and/or couch maybe, performing tasks or rather completing projects from your bed/couch has been proved to impact your health negatively.
The first reason revolves around posture. It is hard to maintain a good posture while working from your bed and/or couch. This is because you are sitting on an uneven surface for long periods.
Working from your bed and/or couch often leads to having your monitor at an incorrect height level. This is said to gradually contribute to curving your back. Over time, neck and/or back pain will begin to make a cause you great discomfort.
Thus, setting up a dedicated workspace is one of the most important steps towards taking care of your health while working from home. Statistics report that setting up a dedicated workspace while working from home will contribute to various (positive) factors. The first being helping you smoothly make the (mental) transition from working in an office environment to working from home.
You do not need to have expensive home office furniture. A simple desk and recommended office chair would work just fine. Setting up a dedicated work office space at home does not require a large space either. Setting up your workspace at the corner of your room could work just fine too.
However, it is important to note that your dedicated workspace must be free from noise and/or distractions.
For example, if you live alone, setting up your dedicated workspace in your living room could be a beneficial option. But if you live with your family setting up a dedicated workspace in your living room may not be a good idea. This is because the TV can cause noise when it’s on. This would lead to distracting you and not just negatively impacting your health but your productivity too.
- Take Breaks
- Boost Energy
- Improve Sleep Quality
- Increase Motivation
- Increase Creativity
- Renew Focus and Concentration
- Improve Memory
Taking breaks will make you feel mentally and physically refreshed. This in turn would help you avoid burnout. By definition, burnout is the state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion. Burnout is often caused by prolonged and excessive stress. This often leads to job dissatisfaction and loss of general happiness.
Burnout is said to lead to:
- Increased likelihood for type 2 diabetes
- Increased likelihood for heart disease
- Increased likelihood for high blood pressure
- Increased likelihood for respiratory issues
- Anger Issues
Various studies like this one have shown that workers who took scheduled breaks were more satisfied with their job. If your work shift lasts 7 hours, then taking a scheduled break after every 2 hours of work could be ideal.
3. Practice Eating Healthy
One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to eating healthy is that it can only be salads. Not true. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) suggested that a healthy diet consists of nutritious foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
Practicing healthy eating also involves the avoidance of constantly reaching into your snack cabinet after every 10 minutes. This is because doing so will begin to affect your productivity. One of the most effective ways to practice eating healthy habits involves meal prepping. This is especially helpful if your break/lunch times range from 15–30 minutes. In such a scenario, it always seems easy to prepare a meal (like noodles), that would not take too much of your break/lunchtime to eat.
Meal prepping is simply the act of preparing whole meals/dishes in advance. Aside from saving your meal preparation time, meal prepping can help your meals stay nutritious, contributing to healthier eating habits. Meal prepping does not just involve cooking all your meals in one day.
Depending on your kind of eating lifestyle, there are various ways to meal prep:
- Ready-to-cook Ingredients — this involves preparing the ingredients that are required for specific meals well in advance. This contributes to reducing the amount of time you would usually take in the kitchen.
- Batch Cooking — this involves making large batches of a specific recipe then splitting it into independent portions. The split portions can then be used to prepare different meals. The portions are usually frozen and/or consumed over time.
This method of meal prepping is commonly popular for lunch and/or dinner options. For example, say you would want to have pancakes for breakfast and later on bake a pizza for dinner. Through batch cooking, you would prepare the flour and add just the basic ingredients then split the recipe into what is suitable for pancakes. The other portion would have more ingredients added to the pizza.
- Make-ahead Meals — this involves the cooking of full meals in advance. These meals are then refrigerated and reheated at mealtimes. This option is often popular for dinnertime options and is a great time saver for remote workers and families as well.
- Exercise and Move your Body
Undoubtedly, exercising has got both psychological and physical benefits. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) suggests replacing the time you would have taken to commute to work to exercise or rather workout. For example, if you would have to wake up 1 hour early to commute and make it working time, then opt to wake up 30 minutes early to skip rope or even do some yoga.
The biggest misconception when it comes to exercising is that you will feel more fatigued. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exercising before and/or after your work shift has been proven to boost your energy levels to improve sleep quality!
When you are not able to exercise before and/or after your work shift, do not worry. The DHS suggests incorporating physical activity into your work shift. For example, at regular intervals, you can set calendar reminders to do a few stretches, pushup, and/or crunches.
- Stay Hydrated
Dehydration is reported to lead to mood swings and constipation. Thus when working from home, it is highly important to stay hydrated. Research that was conducted in the Indian Defence Institute of Psychology and Allied Science showed just how bad dehydration affects health.
The research revealed that 1% of dehydration is more than enough to lower your intellectual performance. The research went a step further and showed how 2% of dehydration can negatively affect cognitive functions such as hand-eye coordination, short-term memory, and reasoning.
Drinking moderate amounts of tea and coffee is allowed. Nonetheless, water is the most recommended beverage.
Try to completely avoid sugary beverages such as energy drinks and sodas. This is because they can often lead to weight gain.
It is suggested to ensure your water intake is 9–12 glasses water.
Also, drinking water is not the only way that you can stay hydrated. Including fruits such as grapefruit, watermelon, and grapes as you eat lunch is ideal. This is because such fruits are some of the most hydrating aliments that you can eat.
6. Keep In Touch With Family and/or Friends
Working from home can easily slip you into the wake-up, eat, work, sleep, repeat the routine. This in turn would end up injuring your social interactions and in general social life as well as mental health. Research reveals that adults that have no friends develop psychological mental health issues.
As we are in a time when social distancing is heavily encouraged, make use of video calling features on apps and websites such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Zoom just to name a few. These websites and apps include group video calling too!
Video calling your family and/or friends does not completely replace physically meeting them. However, it still contributes to a lively conversation which contributes to a healthy psychological state of mind.
Working from home could either be the best thing that ever happened to your health or the worst. The good news is that you get to choose which way to live. As you can see, taking care of your health while working from home does not involve big life changes. As it is popularly said, it is all in the small details.
Do remember that working from a dedicated workspace will save you from neck and back pain. This is because unlike on your couch/bed, you are seated, and working on an even surface. Taking scheduled breaks is just as important as adhering to your break schedule. This will help you maintain your productivity and also, keep up with healthy eating habits.
In case that you would not have enough time to prepare a healthy meal to eat, consider meal prepping. This will help you cut down on cooking time while still ensuring you eat a healthy meal.
Exercising will often help you feel rejuvenated and boost your energy levels. Thus, it is advised to either exercise before and/or after your work shift or rather a day, or to incorporate stretching and/or mini-workouts into your work shift/day.
Also, remember to stay hydrated by ensuring that you have a glass/bottle of water on your desk. Last but not least, make an effort to stay healthy while working at home. It will work greatly to your advantage!
Originally published in HomeOffice4Us