Learning how to work from home? A survival guide for staying healthy and sane.
Whether you are used to a work from home environment or it’s totally new to you, there are many things you can do you keep yourself in good health both mentally and physically. And while these tips apply any time, they are especially relevant right now. Consider these tips to keep yourself and anyone you live with happier and healthier while you work from home.
1) Create and maintain a schedule.
This is key for you, and anyone you live with. You may have people who work from home, others who are remote learning from home, and still others who are trying to run a household under totally new circumstances. A good schedule includes setting aside time to work, play, eat, socialize and exercise (more on that later). It can also help you allocate household resources in a way that works for everyone – including computer and television time, sharing space in a home office or rec room, and giving everyone a little space when they need quiet time. Here, communication is key, but so is flexibility.
2) Set up a proper workspace and maintain good posture
Start with identifying a dedicated space to work that is as free from distractions as possible. This may mean making some compromises with housemates or family, or trading time in a dedicated space. From there, maintaining good posture is all about straight lines and 90-degree angles.
If you’re using a computer (and let’s be honest, who isn’t), the top of your monitor should be at eye level, allowing you to look straight ahead and avoiding a tilt or strain on your neck. When it comes to your seated position, your forearms and thighs should be parallel to the floor, putting your elbows and knees at a 90-degree angle. Likewise, your feet should be flat on the floor and your back straight to protect your spine.
As you pay attention to good sitting posture, you may realize it’s harder than you expected! Engaging your core muscles to maintain good posture is takes practice, and breaks!
3) Schedule movement time
When that perfect posture has driven you to exhaustion, it’s time for a break. As we’ve mentioned before, sitting for 5+ hours has been shown to be the health equivalent of smoking more than a pack of cigarettes! If that’s not enough to get you moving, here are two more good reasons: Harvard reminds us that exercise actually changes the brain in ways that protect memory and thinking skills! And, if you live with children, it’s especially important for them to be moving, for everyone’s sanity. They are probably bouncing off the walls already, so embrace it!
If you spend a lot of time at your desk when you work from home, plan to get up every hour and at least walk around or stretch a little bit. Regardless of what your work or family schedule is, try to also block 30 minutes to an hour of each day to do something active. Run around in the yard with kids, walk around the block (while maintaining social distancing recommendations), walk up and down stairs in your house or whatever works in your environment. Many gyms including Orange Theory Fitness are offering free online workouts to help everyone stay active.
4) Take advantage of new (and existing) online resources
Many things we’re used to doing in person can now be done online, so take advantage of these handy resources. From purchasing office supplies to outfit your new work from home environment, buying groceries online for pickup or scheduling a telehealth appointment with your orthopedic doctor, many businesses are adapting to current circumstances with technology.
We’re all learning to work from home (even our doctors and staff are doing it too!), and if you are new to it, give yourself some time to adjust. Adopting a healthy mindset and healthy practices up front will make the transition easier and support your whole health in the long run.