Working from home may have once sounded like a dream scenario for many, but now that it’s become a forced reality they’re realizing that staying physically and mentally healthy takes some thoughtful consideration and effort.
How to Care for Your Health While Working From Home
Even if you have worked from home in the past, it is unlikely you were surrounded by every member of your family or others you may live with during work hours. Add to that the toll of stress and uncertainty and it becomes even more critical to implement a self-care routine.
Build a Strong Foundation
Set Yourself Up For Success
Treat your home office like your work office. It’s too easy to go from your bed to your computer and then all of a sudden it’s dinnertime and you haven’t even showered yet. Some people find it helpful to do their hair and get fully dressed while others remain more casual, but it’s important to be presentable especially if you will be on video. Eat like you would at the office and don’t binge on snacks all day.
Build a schedule that works for a home office. If you have a loud home environment, you might get up and start work before everyone else is up, or work late at night when everyone has gone to bed. If you have napping children, you might try to avoid conference and video calls in the afternoon. You might linger over breakfast with your family in place of a long commute, but it’s still important to be available during normal work hours and get your deliverables done on time.
Care For Your Mental Health
Create, and Enforce Boundaries
Keep your work hours your work hours, and your off-hours. The lines can get blurred, so check your e-mail and do your work during your set hours, but then power down outside of that. Resist the urge to continue checking e-mail when you are not working.
Schedule breaks. Get up every hour or so get up and move around a bit. When it’s time for lunch, walk away from your work station for a while and actually have lunch. Scheduling breaks will recharge you and make you more productive overall.
Don’t let your work items take over your life. Designate an out-of-the-way spot in your home for your computer or tablet, important reports, and files, printer, etc. This spot should be an out of the way place you can put the items when you are off the clock.
Connect Without Over-consuming
Limit your news and social media intake. It might be tempting to have the news on in the background but it can increase your anxiety level. And with your phone right next to you, it’s easy to get sucked into hours of meaningless scrolling. Be mindful of your external consumption. Try to stay connected to co-workers about non-project related issues. Check-in and see how they are faring juggling working from home. Let your managers know what you are dealing with at home, and work together on solutions.
Care for Your Physical Health
Staying healthy is more important than ever, and now isn’t the time to stop working out. Fortunately, for now, people in the US are still being allowed to go outside freely, so take an opportunity to go for a walk or run each day, or go exploring on your local hiking trails and in state parks (although you may want to check on state parks before you travel there as some have been shutting down).
No Gym Necessary
There are lots of free at-home workout plans and instructional videos available on the web and streaming television. For example, simply search “at home workouts” or something similar on YouTube and thousands of results come up. You can also search for your favorite fitness guru or company, as most of them are posting free at-home workouts, and your gym may be putting workouts online.
You don’t need a lot of expensive gym equipment to get in a good work out. Bodyweight exercises are effective, and you can use household objects as weights as necessary. For example, you can use gallons of water or large laundry detergent bottles to do one-legged deadlifts. Fill up a backpack with rice, pet food or a sack of potatoes as a weighted vest and squat or run up and down a set of stairs. Use hand towels or paper plates as sliders to do mountain climbers, knee tucks and pikes. A kitchen chair is great for triceps dips, couch cushions can serve as a bosu, a filled duffle bag can serve as a sandbag. Use a mop or broom overhead while doing core moves for a more intense ab burn.
Virtual Exercise Groups
Add a social element and even a little competition to motivate your friends and family too. For example, you could choose a few bodyweight movements (squats, burpees, push-ups, sit-ups) and do 19 of each for five rounds. Invite your friends to do the same workout at their convenience over the course of the day and post their time in your group chat; the best time wins. You could also choose a couple buzzwords (pandemic, coronavirus, vaccine, social distancing) and assign an exercise to each one; every time someone in a press conference says the word, you do the exercise.
Adapt to the New Normal
Whatever you do, just make sure you move in the day. You probably spend more time up and about at work than you think, going to meetings or seeing co-workers. Set up an office as best as you can at home and try to stay connected to work while balancing time off. Realize that things will be different for a while and you might have to make some changes to keep your mental health strong. As more and more states call for shelter-in-place restrictions, just remember that we are all in this together.