In theory it is easier to be healthy when you are working from home. No office snacks or birthday cake, you can cook healthy meals, and exercise with all your spare time.
However, the reality is probably something like, slouching on your chair with no back support, typing away on your laptop which isn’t set to the right height and snacking every hour due to boredom or because you didn’t have the time or energy to make lunch.
Creating a healthy work-life balance is hard enough when you work in an office all day, but it can be just as hard when work and life are happening in the same place. Read on to understand how you can make the most of working from home.
1. You can still commute. You used to travel anywhere from 30 minutes up to 2 hours getting from home to the office. The amount of time you have hasn’t changed, just how you use it has. Block out the start and end of your day to go on a 20 minute walk and clock up the steps you would have taken back when you were an ‘office worker’. This could easily add up to 8,000 steps or more per day.
2. Try the ‘Pomodoro’ effect. This tool was developed in the 1980s by Francecesco Cirillo to help him focus on his studies. It helps you resist all those interruptions and keeps you focussed on the task in hand. Here’s how it works:
Write a to-do list and have a timer ready
Set your timer for 25 minutes and focus on 1 task until the timer rings
When your session ends, mark off 1 pomodoro and record what you have completed
Enjoy a 5 minute break
After 4 pomodoros, take a longer more restorative 15-30 minute break
This system seems simple and it really is. The aim is to keep productivity high and the feeling of being overwhelmed and stressed to a minimum.
3. Switch off! It’s almost too easy to keep working now as there is no trigger for you to go home at the end of the day. Having a clear start and finish to your day will stop you from over-working which is very important for your mental wellbeing. I appreciate there may be busy days or even busy weeks where you need to work late to finish a project, but try not to make a habit of this.
4. Boredom snacking. Working from home can be mundane as the scenery doesn’t change and you may not see anyone for eight hours or more per day. This can sometimes lead to unnecessary snacking, but you’re not actually hungry, just bored. If you really must have something to consume, try a cup of tea, coffee or glass of water. Wait 15 minutes and see if you’re still hungry. If you must snack, some healthy options include carrot/cucumber/celery sticks, rice cakes, fruit, a handful of nuts. Try opting for a high protein breakfast which will reduce cravings as you will be fuller for longer.
5. A proud, productive posture prevents pain. Say that 10 times quickly! But seriously, it really does. Over time, poor posture can change the anatomical structure of your spine (think Hunchback Of Notre Dame). Your flexibility decreases, some muscles shorten and some lengthen (get weaker) and back pain is almost inevitable. Try and be more aware of your posture and understand how it feels when you sit. You will then be able to correct rounded shoulders, a flexed neck and a rounded lower and upper back.
6. Earn your fuel. You are more likely to be moving less than you used to, but has your calorie consumption changed accordingly? If not then hello weight gain! Put simply, if you used to walk 8,000 steps per day, 56,000 per week but this has dropped to 2,000 per day, 14,000 per week that is a huge difference in energy output. In order to stay the same weight, your calorie consumption has to reduce alongside the reduction of movement. Reduce portion size, change or stop the snacks and keep alcohol to a minimum are a few easy ways to do this.
I decided to write this article as we may be in this working from home environment for longer than originally anticipated. I hope you found this useful and can implement at least one change to help you lead a healthier lifestyle.