Maintaining a Healthy and Balanced Lifestyle When Working from Home
Whether you’re a remote employee or have the flexibility of a hybrid workplace, working from home presents a unique set of challenges. From when and how to eat, to creating an exercise regimen and establishing a work/life balance that’s ideal for your mental health and emotional well-being, a productive work from home environment takes some dedication and planning.
Here are a few tips to help you create a healthy and balanced lifestyle when working from home.
Set up a dedicated and organized workspace.
Although not everyone has the luxury of having an entirely separate room to create office space, it can be as simple as designating an area in a room for a desk, chair and your computer and monitors. Find a comfortable chair with lower back support, armrests and a seat height that allows your feet to rest flat on the floor. The optimal place for a computer monitor is an arm’s length away, with the top of the monitor at or below eye level. If needed, increase the font size on your screen to reduce eyestrain. Additionally, keeping your space organized will increase home office productivity and reduce stress. Put away items that can create clutter like notepads, pens, junk mail and completed lists.
Also, clean air in your home is important to your productivity. “Because you’re at home more, make sure your air quality is top notch – change out your air filters, vacuum and dust regularly, open windows to air out your home and be sure to wash your linens often. And of course, get outside for some sunshine, fresh air and exercise,” said BayCare’s VP/Chief Quality Officer Dr. Laura Arline, MD, FACP, FAAP.
Create a schedule.
The CDC recommends sticking to a daily life routine outside of work, noting that this may help reduce feelings of stress. This routine includes going to bed and getting up in the morning at the same time every day and not skipping meals because you’re busy.
Put on some pants (yoga pants count!).
You can keep your attire casual, but still professional when working from home. To start your day, take a shower, brush your hair, even put on a little makeup if that helps you feel better when attending online meetings. Although there’s a perception that working from home is a daylong pajama fest, the simple act of getting ready is a vital part of self-care and can help you transition into work mode easier.
Plan meals in advance.
Although it may be tempting to grab fast food for a quick meal, it’s best to plan ahead when you can so you’re never rushed or stressed about what you’re going to eat while working from home. If you’re looking for a no-fuss approach, pre-cooked or packaged meals from a delivery service are also healthy and convenient options.
Keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid snacking on processed foods.
According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), a healthy diet is one that emphasizes nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy products. The NHLBI also suggests eggs, beans, nuts, fish, poultry and lean meat while limiting foods high in sugar and salt. A healthy diet also limits foods high in saturated fat, such as fatty cuts of red meat, and trans fat, such as processed foods. Some examples include:
- Sugary beverages such as sweetened coffee and tea, energy drinks and soft drinks.
- Deli meats, hot dogs and sausages.
- Frozen pizza and frozen meals.
- Packaged snacks such as chips, cookies, crackers and baked goods.
- Most breakfast cereals.
Drinking enough fluids is essential for preventing dehydration, a condition that can lead to constipation, unclear thinking and mood swings. There are several factors that may cause you to need to adjust your total daily water intake. Click here to read more about when to adjust your daily water intake and ways to add more water to your day. Water is the best beverage choice, but drinking coffee and tea in moderation is also acceptable. Avoid sugary beverages, such as sodas, energy drinks and fruit drinks.
Schedule exercise in your day.
An easy way to work fitness into your routine is by replacing the time you would have spent commuting to work with exercising at home or in a gym. You could take a brisk walk around the neighborhood, head to a fitness class such as yoga or Pilates or complete an exercise routine on a mobile app. Additionally, if you have a standing desk, use it when you can to avoid extended periods of physical inactivity.
“Remote work may promote a more sedentary lifestyle,” added Dr. Arline. “Throughout your day, take movement breaks. Our brains work hard when we’re remote because we don’t have the same visual and non-verbal cues we have during in-person meetings. We can pay close attention for about 90 minutes before our thinking efficiency drops. If you need to jumpstart your brain – take a movement break.”
Separate your work and home life and make connections.
When you work from home, the lines between work and your home life can often blur. Be sure to take a lunch break and two 15-minute breaks (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) to break up the day and to reset and refresh. Remember to set boundaries. Once work hours are over, try to mentally detach from work and focus on relaxing and spending time with family, pets or doing an activity you enjoy at the end of the day.
“Let’s not forget about the importance of maintaining social connections,” noted Arline. “When you’re remote, you may not have as much social interaction as you would in the office. Connecting to others is part of what makes us human and keeps us mentally healthy. Be sure to carve out time to get together, in-person, with family, friends and even co-workers.”
Increasing your home office productivity doesn’t have to be difficult. Design a daily routine that works for you, and you will soon find that with a little patience, enthusiasm, and some trial and error, you’ll create an effective work environment.