Working from home has raised so many challenges, not only with work-life balance, but also with becoming used to this new concept of social distancing. Many of us stopped going to the gym and even going outside as often. And if you’re like a lot of us right now, you’re probably trying to get back on the road to wellness.
Now is the time to take charge of your health, both in your home office and the rest of your life. Check out these tips to see how you can implement your own at-home wellness program.
Take Stock of Your Current Feeling of Wellness (…or lack thereof)
To determine what needs to change, you’ll need to determine what isn’t going so well at the moment. Do your hips hurt? You could be sitting all wrong. Are you out of energy? You could be dehydrated, sleep-deprived, or not getting enough sun. And apologies in advance for this next question, but are your jeans tighter? You know what you need to do.
Now is the time to put together a list of the issues you’re experiencing, then develop a plan. Start with the most pressing issues, then work your way through the list. This isn’t something you need to do all in one fell swoop, but do be sure to make your health a priority, especially this year, so that you can better protect your immune system.
Home Office Ergonomics
Not everybody’s living space is equipped to hold a full home office, but you can make small adjustments to make your workday more comfortable. Home office ergonomics can be expensive, but if you plan to work from home indefinitely, this is an investment that is well worth the cost.
Make sure you have the right chair and desk. Your office chair should be adjustable so that you can make the necessary tweaks to make it work best with your desk or table. Rather than make this purchase online, go to an office supply or furniture store and try them for yourself until you find the perfect match.
Another investment that can help your health is a standing desk. You don’t necessarily need to buy the full desk—in fact, there are top-of-desk setups that can convert your existing desk to move up and down. This keeps you from sitting all day, encourages better circulation, and can help drastically improve your energy.
Take Breaks Throughout the Day
It feels kind of weird taking a break from work when you’re already at home, doesn’t it? You can get a snack any time or even pet your dog any time you want. But your breaks are still necessary!
Schedule at least two 15-20 minute breaks during your day, as well as a 30-60 minute lunch (bathroom breaks don’t count!). This is the time to turn off notifications for work and focus on your self-care. Use this time to start a meditation routine, take a quick walk, or sit outside.
Whatever you do during this time, make sure it’s all about you. Unless you’re a paramedic, work can likely wait for you to take your well-deserved breaks.
Change Phone Calls to Video Calls
We live in the age of video calls now, and when we’re at home and isolating, loneliness can hit hard. No matter how many emails or calls you make each day, make face-to-face interaction a priority. Seeing another person’s expressions creates empathy, which is essential in a business relationship.
Social connections at work boost productivity, add to overall satisfaction at the workplace, and reduce stress. While you might not be able to gather around the water cooler like you used to, you can still have some interaction with coworkers throughout the day. If distance is a barrier, schedule some virtual happy hours to help strengthen these connections.
Now, your company may not invest in video communication, so there may not be a way around this for your particular situation. However, you can also make a shift in your personal life to more video calls, and that can help to balance the voice-only interactions throughout the day.
Get Up and Walk
Did you know that walking can save your life? A phrase we’ve heard often lately in the wellness community is that “sitting is the new smoking.” Walking can help your waistline, yes, but it also plays an integral part in cutting your risk for type II diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, and high blood pressure. Go for a walk in the sun, and you’re raising your vitamin D, improving your circulation, and boosting your mood.
Arbitrary numbers exist for the number of steps you should get every day, but the most important thing is that you get up, move, and get your heart pumping. Start with a step goal or milestone goal (twice around the block, for example). Be sure not to go too hard right away, or you could get discouraged when you can’t, say, walk 10 miles during your lunch break.
If you start at something smaller to start, you’re less likely to get discouraged, and also less likely to injure yourself. Try 3,000 steps, then 5,000, and add a few more each week as you go. Use an app to track your progress, and get your coworkers and family on board for some healthy competition while you’re at it.
Enforce Workplace Boundaries
Boundaries can be challenging, and they’re even more complicated when placed on the people who sign your paycheck. But they must be made. Yes, you’re working from home, but that doesn’t mean you’re on call 24/7!
Be mindful of the hours you’re working. If you must, set calendar reminders for when you start the workday and end it. Even if you’re a freelancer or don’t have set office hours, creating this window for work time is crucial to your health and well-being. We’ll say it again: work can wait.
Clients and coworkers who know you work from home will toe the line here and there. Be sure to communicate the expectations for your availability, and be your own best advocate for enforcing these boundaries. Turn off notifications, remove work-related apps from your phone entirely, and stick to this very important promise to yourself.
Enroll in Telehealth Programs
Just because you work from home, you don’t have to forego your health visits, too. Insurance companies have changed their policies regarding telehealth for the foreseeable future, allowing physicians and mental health providers to provide office visits over video.
For those who need help with mental health, some fantastic options have become available as well. Apps for hypnosis, meditation, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) can be purchased for a small fee. Additionally, therapists can provide visits through secure, HIPAA-compliant technology when you need counseling or psychiatric services.
The important thing is that you check in with yourself regularly. Process your feelings toward work, family, and life in general. When you’re feeling out of sorts, make an appointment and talk to somebody who can help you get on the path to healing.
When you work from home, it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable for your health. Start with the steps above to get your at-home wellness program started, then add in practices that you find helpful along the way.
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