Staying healthy when you work from home can at first seem really tricky. After all, you don’t need to leave the house and can work in your pyjamas all day long if you choose. Luckily for those of us with kids to ferry off to school and nursery, we do have to get dressed and out the house at some point! I can only imagine once the kids have grown up how easy it is to get sucked into work all day and not venture out at all. I constantly have one more email to send or one more article to finish.
Snacking can also be an issue. Your food cupboards and comfort foods are right there, a few metres away. The temptation is real! There’s no one there to judge what you’re eating and you can make as many trips to the biscuit tin as you like. Heck, you can even plonk the whole tin right there next to your computer to save the trip to the kitchen.
Staying healthy is so important and even more so if you just have too many temptations and excuses for not moving when working at home. Here are my top tips to stay healthy when you work from home all day long:
Have healthy snacks to hand
If you have healthy snacks prepared or within arm’s reach then you’re much more likely to opt for them, I hope. If junk food is your weakness, however, then simply don’t have it in the house. If it’s not there then you can’t have it or be tempted. If your only choice is healthy snacks such as fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, dried fruit and wholegrain rice crackers then that is the choice you will have to make. Believe me, your body will thank you for ditching the junk and making natural healthy plant based choices. If you fancy crisps then try some pure nut butter spread on wholegrain rice crackers (very important these are wholegrain and not white). If you fancy sweets then munch on some dried fruit or fresh berries. If you love chocolate then make a batch of raw cacao energy balls to nibble on through the week.
Fit exercise into your routine
Being at home working all day doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice exercise. Instead, try to incorporate it into your daily schedule or breaks. We’re creatures of habit and if you can commit to an activity each day at a certain time then I believe you’re more likely to do it. Start the day with a power walk around the block, take 15 minutes at the beginning of your lunch break to do some yoga, set the last 20 minutes of your day aside for a jog. If you don’t want to leave the house then search You Tube for exercise. There is everything you can imagine on there from street dance, Zumba, Pilates, Body Combat to aerobics. Once it becomes part of your daily routine and a habit then it’s much easier to stick to it and it won’t become a chore.
Remember to have a break
For both your mind and body, it is always important to take a break. Sometimes in an employed environment we have set breaks without pay so we ensure we have them, but at home when there is no schedule we are forced to stick to we can too easily work straight through without a reasonable pause or any kind of break at all. There’s a reason workplaces have to give employees a break every so many hours, it’s important for our wellbeing, health and safety. Schedule breaks into your day when possible. If you work on a computer then remember the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look away for at least 20 seconds at something 20 metres away. This will refresh your eyes and even your focus. It’s important to have a break from the screen, sitting in the same position too long and to recharge the brain.
Network with others online (and in person)
It’s so important to keep your mind healthy when you work from home, as well as prevent feelings of isolation. It’s very easy to work all day long with no interaction with another human being and this can begin to feel very lonely. Luckily the internet provides great networking opportunities such as Twitter hashtag hours and Facebook groups where you can network or even just chat to likeminded individuals in the same profession as yourself or the same work from home situation. It can provide a welcome relief from feeling alone and boost mood thanks to some social interaction. There may even be some local networking groups aimed at mums in business, women in business or even just people who work from home where you can meet in person to bounce ideas of each other and even just enjoy a general chitchat. This can really stop working at home from feeling so isolating.
Invest in an ergonomic chair or walking treadmill desk
After recently twisting my sacroiliac joint and being in agony for almost six weeks not being able to exercise or even get my own socks on, I invested in a kneeling chair and wedge cushion for our dining table chairs. They both make you sit at a slight angle leaning forward which means your spine is perfectly upright and in the correct position when seated, instead of slumping and causing damage. I’d highly recommend looking into ergonomic seat supports or a professional ergonomic office chair if you regularly work at the computer. These seats can ensure you maintain a good posture and prevent back injuries from long periods of sitting. Even better would be a standing desk or for more exercise a walking treadmill desk. You can actually slowly walk a few kilometres whilst you work – genius! I have one on my office wish list and I hope to invest this year. I’m sure it’s going to be a very worthwhile investment.
Take a lunch break
I have said taking breaks is very important, but make sure you do eat some lunch. Eating a proper healthy and nutritious plant based meal will stop you from snacking so much and will nourish your body and brain so you work more effectively. Hunger pangs and rumbling stomachs are going to distract you from working and you’ll not work at your optimum capacity as your brain is beginning to focus on food instead of your occupation. I often notice my attention and concentration starts to flag around lunchtime, particularly if I go past my usual lunchtime, but as soon as I’ve eaten some nutritious food I’m back to my normal productive self.
Set up a healthy work space
Instead of working on the bed or sofa with a laptop perched on your lap, set up a dedicated work area if you have the space. Even a small desk and chair can make all the difference. Simply sitting upright can help you feel more productive instantly. I do sometimes work on my sofa on less important tasks, but I prefer to sit at the dining table or my office desk to tackle a full day of work or important tasks. Just sitting at an actual table changes my efficiency massively. Choose a space with lots of natural light, preferably by a window. Add a house plant to really boost your mood, promote calmness and to purify the air. Don’t forget to use an ergonomic seat as mentioned above.
Drink plenty of water too. Have a water bottle by your desk to prevent knocking over a glass or cup onto your laptop or papers. A water bottle is also great for seeing exactly how much you are drinking and encouraging you to drink enough each day. Keep sipping throughout the day. Fresh delicious water will keep you feeling awake and can also keep snacking at bay. If you feel a headache coming on or a little tired then it’s possible you are dehydrated and a glass of water could make all the difference.
Though it can be tempting to stay up until the early hours or even pull an all-nighter when you have a big project or too much to do, assess whether that’s really the most productive strategy. Personally if I stay up working too late then I am a lot less productive the next day. I simply can’t focus or motivate myself as I usually can. Getting as much done as possible until a reasonable hour and then getting my head down for a full night’s kip will ensure I’m energised and buzzing to go the next day. This is much a better approach than overworking one day and as a result being tired and sloppy the next.
There are plenty of ways to ensure you are healthy and active even when working from home. Set up a healthy workspace, use ergonomic seating, take regular breaks, exercise, eat well, snack healthily, stay hydrated and get a good night’s rest. All these will ensure you reach your full potential when working at home and you’ll remain healthy, fit and active.