2020 has been the year of staying at home, and this includes where we work. In fact, many companies have either told their employees to continue working at home forever or at least until the next year. With that being said, it is easy to fall into unhealthy habits while sitting down all day. If you are working at home, here are 10 healthy habits to help you adjust to a new normal.
At home, it is easy to get lost in a zone. Frequently, working at home can put pressure on us to prove we are working since our boss can’t see what we are doing. This can lead to sitting in the same spot for hours, but this isn’t healthy. Try the Pomodoro method, a time management tool, to help you do more work in a small amount of time. It encourages 25-minute sprints with a 5-minute break. After 4 of the intervals, a longer break is taken. This helps to set a goal for the day and accomplish more.
Remember, your lunch break should be a real break. Do not fall into the habit of working through your lunch, since there is nothing else to do. Get up and step away from your computer to relax your eyes, and recharge.
2. Practice good posture
Sitting all day promotes a strain on your lower back. Practice proper posture and ergonomics while working from home. Sit up straight with your neck neutral, and your bottom slightly curved to release pressure in your lower back. Ensure your legs are parallel to the ground and knees in line with your hips. If you cannot reach the floor, place an object underneath your feet to promote the parallel position.
Keep the screen at eye level to encourage a neutral spine and decrease neck strain. Have your elbows at your side and keep your wrists straight. Please view this illustration below for further guidance.
3. Be mindful of food
First, try not to set up your work area near the kitchen to avoid the temptation of eating out of boredom. Then, plan out your meals and have healthy snacks on hand. People either fall victim to forgetting to eat while working at home or have the inability to control themselves with quick access to their favorite foods. You can avoid this by setting a schedule to eat your main meals and snacks, then prepping the food to eat. Meal prep helps you avoid overeating and is convenient for those who have trouble remembering to eat. Focus on eating real food to help you stay focused and give you the energy you need to complete the day.
4. Try standing more
Working at home promotes more sedentary behaviors. I know for a while, my step count significantly decreased. When we are in the office, we end up moving more because of boredom or collaboration. At home, we do not have that luxury. A study even found, sitting is the new smoking because it increases your risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For me, I have a desk that can convert to a seated or standing position. These convertible desks help you be more ergonomically correct and encourage movement throughout the day.
You can incorporate movement while working at home. I know many companies encourage employees to do desk exercises during the day, but you might be reluctant to do so because there are people around you. Now you can move like no one is watching while getting work done. Keep mini weights or bands by your desk to assist you. If you feel like you may be in a marathon of zoom meetings, this is the perfect opportunity to get up and move. Exercise will help relieve stress and improve concentration throughout the day.
Another tip, schedule in exercise on your calendar. This blocks out the time, and you will not be interrupted! There are many free programs out there for at-home workouts, and they range from 15 minutes to an hour. Find an activity you like and get started.
6. Drink Water
Staying hydrated is essential to your daily health while working at home. Drinking enough water reduces the sense of fatigue and headaches. In addition, it keeps you energized. Check out this water intake calculator to determine how much water you need daily. If you have trouble drinking water, try water tracking bottles to help you set a goal throughout the day.
For some who are not used to working at home, the lack of human interaction is isolating. Make it a point to check in with your coworkers to see how they are coping. If time management is an issue for you, ask others how they are managing the at-home environment with their workload. You may draw inspiration from each other and have someone to hold you accountable every day.
8. Create a positive environment
It can be tempting to work bedside, but set boundaries for yourself. Working from the bed promotes relaxed behaviors. Have a dedicated workspace for your workday. Decorate it to make a comfortable space to encourage productivity and positive mental health.
Set boundaries with others living in the home. Do not feel pressured to complete household work or converse with other members in your home. This goes for friends or family, not living with you. Let them know that you’re off-limits during your productive time.
9. Enforce work-life balance
Sometimes working at home encourages longer hours and less time away. Enforce a dedicated schedule and stick to it. Do not feel pressured to overwork yourself to prove productivity. It is okay to use your earned paid time off even if you are not able to go anywhere. Everyone needs a break.
10. Stick with a routine
When you’re intentional about preparing for your day, it puts you in the right mindset to work. Get up every day, shower, and get dressed as if you are heading outside. Eat breakfast to fuel your mind for the day ahead, and prepare a schedule of your tasks.