In this article, I’m sharing 10 ways to stay healthy while working from home. Each of these is completely doable for anyone who works from a home office.
More and more people are working from home nowadays, either for themselves or as a remote worker. According to the American Time Use Survey, in 2017 to 2018, 25 percent of workers worked at home at least occasionally, and 15 percent of workers had days they only worked at home. The flexibility and cost-savings that working from home provides is something to cause every busy mother to rejoice. After all, doesn’t it sound like the ideal situation? You’ll eliminate a commute altogether, therefore saving on travel costs. You might cut down on purchasing work attire. Your stress level may go down as there’s no rat race before, during, or after work. And when it comes to family, there are benefits there too. Working from home could help improve family relationships and potentially give you more oversight and involvement with your kids’ school and other activities.
While all of these benefits of working from home are desirable, there is another side to having a remote work situation. Working from could have a negative impact on your health, both physically and mentally. So if you are considering working from home – or area already doing so – you’ll want to be mindful of the pitfalls of working from home.
Striking a healthy work-life balance isn’t easy when you work outside of the home, but it can also be a challenge when your work and life are one in the same.
In this article, I’m sharing 10 ways to stay healthy while working from home. Each of these is completely doable for every home office dweller.
10 Ways to Stay Healthy While Working From Home
1. Create a designated work area.
When you work from home, you may no longer have the distractions of chatty office coworkers or impromptu meetings, but you may have a new type of distraction: your family. If there will be other people around while you are working from home, it’s important to create a separate space for work that is away from the main living area. The ideal set-up is having a room that is your dedicated home office with a door that you can close for privacy and noise reduction.
Your physical environment must support a healthy work mindset. So having a work area at home is important. And it’s important to use this space to conduct business, rather than working from the kitchen table amidst the kids playing, dog barking, and everything else that goes on in a busy home.
If a separate room for a home office is not an option, create a dedicated work area. Be sure to consider lighting, noise level, and other distractions. Choose a spot and then make it your own. Invest in a comfortable chair and desk. Your desk might be stationed in one place or a mobile ergonomic stand up desk that can be rolled to another area way if needed. Once you have the main work supplies in place, customize your space. Add photos, a wall hanging, or plants. Having a nice work area will help you stay healthy while working from home.
2. Create structure.
While one of the benefits of working from home is flexibility, it’s important to create an organized schedule and prioritize your projects and workday tasks.
The first thing you’ll want to do is set a work schedule. Know your daily start and end times. Even if those times are not traditional nine-to-five hours, your workday at home needs to have clear expectations.
Within this schedule, you also need to build in time for breaks, lunch, meetings, phone calls, skype meetings, and other events that may be a regular part of your work.
Also, set aside time to get your MITs, or most important tasks, completed in distraction-free blocks of time. Having an organized, structured schedule is habit that will help you to stay healthy while working from home.
3. Prep healthy meals and snacks.
Working from home allows you to get away from the regular donut fest at the office. But in order to stay healthy while working from home, you’ll need to ensure that you are not replacing unhealthy office lunches and snacks with unhealthy meals from your own pantry.
Eating the right foods and snacks will help you to stay productive, focused, and energized.
So, the key to eating healthy foods while working from home will hinge on how well you prepare meals and snacks in advance of your workweek, or during it.
Plan your meals in advance and be sure to grocery shop on a regular basis. Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy options like fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins.
Invest the time to learn how to batch cook and portion meals out into containers for easy access during your lunchtime and breaks.
4. Exercise to stay healthy while working from home.
When you work from home, you may think it’s okay to skip a workout because after all, you can work out anytime, right? This is actually not the case. While you can work out anytime you want, the reality is that you might not make this a priority. Working out is a great investment of time during your workday to help you stay healthy while working from home. Not only do regular bursts of activity help you to stay mentally focused, but getting up and being active throughout your workday will help you to avoid other health risks of a sedentary lifestyle.
Having a fitness plan helps you to stay healthy while working from home by lowering stress and keeping you energized before, during and after your workday.
But the key to a good fitness plan at work is scheduling it into your calendar as a mandatory meeting with yourself. Create a recurring appointment on your schedule for the beginning and end of your workday, as well as somewhere during the middle of the day. Just 10 minutes, 3 times throughout the day is a great way to get moving. If you need a reminder, check out these activity and break reminder apps that can help you to keep your mind and body active, and help you to stay healthy while working from home.
Also, be sure to have the right tools to stay active throughout your workday. Deskercise equipment such as an under desk elliptical, bicycle pedal exerciser, or an adjustable desk treadmill will help keep you moving at work when you’re unable to leave the desk for a workout.
5. Drink water throughout the day.
How do you feel when you aren’t drinking enough water? You might feel a lack of energy, poor focus, or just plain cranky. These could be signs of dehydration. Part of a good plan to stay healthy while working from home is making sure you’re giving your body plenty of water to stay hydrated.
You may have heard the old saying that we should all be drinking six to eight glasses of water every day, regardless of weight. But a better rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces each day. What does that mean? Here’s an example: If a person weighs 150 pounds, that person would drink 75 ounces of water throughout the day. This is a more personalized way to come up with how much water you need as it’s different for everyone. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water is a great way to stay healthy while working from home, and it will give you more steps as you head to the bathroom every hour.
6. Stand up and move.
There’s a saying, “sitting is the new smoking.” The health risks of sitting are becoming an epidemic. Americans who work in an office setting sit for eight to ten hours per day, and do even more sitting at home. And if you work from home you know that it’s likely that you will be sitting for long periods of time. Extended periods of sitting can take a toll on your health in many ways. People who sit for long stretches of time regularly are at higher risk for certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
Make standing up a part of your plan to stay healthy while working from home. Stand up a few times an hour to take a stretch break. And every hour or so, stand up and get away from your desk altogether. Add standing breaks to your workday to keep your body, mind, and eyes healthy while you work from home.
Tools that can help you stand more include reminder apps that nudge you to take a break, stretch, or take your eyes off the monitor. Other tools include adjustable height stand-up desks or desk risers that convert your existing desk to a stand-up workstation. Taking steps to stand more will empowering you to stay healthy while working from home.
7. Get out of the office.
Working from home can feel monotonous and become isolating if you’re not careful. Make a point to get out of the house regularly. Get away from the computer, phone, and all things work-related and head outside. Go for a walk or bike-ride at a local park or get a mid-day workout at the gym. Go where there are other people to interact with.
Socializing sometimes falls to the wayside when you’re working from home but, it’s necessary to interact with others in person, not just on Skype, to stay healthy while working from home.
8. Get dressed for work.
When you work from home you may think you can skip the shower, throw your hair in a bun and work in your jammies all day. Tempting isn’t it? But this lack of structure is another productivity saboteur you want to avoid. Taking care of your basic hygiene and having a regular self-care schedule is necessary to stay healthy while working from home. Do all the things that you would normally do if you were going to an office to work. Take a shower, brush your teeth, comb your hair, and put on clean clothes. Now here’s the fun part. The clothes you wear don’t have be business casual; they can just be plain casual like this collection from Earth Yoga, one of my favorite brands of comfortable “work” clothes made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials.
9. Create rituals to start and end your day.
As you see, routines are key to being healthy as you work from home. Another routine that you can use to stay healthy while working from home is a ritual to start and wrap up your workday.
Sometimes when you work from home, it seems like your workday has no beginning and no end. This can be detrimental to your work-life balance. Creating clear boundaries around how and when work starts and ends are work is necessary to preserve your health.
A morning ritual can help you to get into a work mindset. The beginning of the day sets the tone for everything that follows. Therefore, using your pre-work time wisely will help you to capitalize on the momentum gained during your morning ritual. Your ritual might include having a healthy breakfast, spending some time with your husband or kids, reading, exercising, doing a meditation, or something else. The way you start your day while working from home can set you up for more energy and focus for the rest of the day.
An end-of-day ritual is also necessary to wrap up your workday and transition back into family mode. With your spouse coming home and kids returning from school, it’s necessary that you have the mental space to reconnect with family and put work out of your mind.
Perhaps you had an end-of-day routine in your traditional office job. Maybe you washed your coffee cup, checked email one last time, check your calendar for tomorrow, made notes for anything important that needed to be followed up on the next day, and straightened up your desk. And as you drove home, perhaps you listened to tunes in the car to “unwind” and alleviate some stress before you got home. The same thing is needed at the end of your workday at home. Having a routine will allow you to leave work at work, so that you can focus on home after work hours. Sometimes closing the door to the office is not enough. A routine will help to put closure to the end of every workday.
10. Buy a good chair.
While standing more is a great habit to form while working at home, the reality is that you’ll be sitting for a majority of the day. Sitting down is unavoidable. And when you sit, it’s critical to have the right chair for you. Some things to consider are height of the chair, width of the seat, whether the chair has armrests or not, the backrest, the material, and more. Having a good office chair isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
As you look through the selection of office chairs, be sure to take them for a spin. Also, check the reviews on a site like Amazon before you buy.
You Can Stay Healthy While Working From Home
Working from home affords many advantages, but don’t allow these conveniences to undermine your focus on your work or health. Stay organized and create boundaries to stay healthy while working from home. Your family and boss will thank you.
Alicia Hyatte is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Wellness Advocate, Health Educator, and a Diabetes Prevention Lifestyle Coach. She helps parents to build healthier habits and routines to better balance home and work life. Her website, WholeFamilyLiving.com, provides motivation and simple strategies for handling everyday challenges like managing stress, being active, eating healthier, losing weight, and more. Alicia is a beach lover and gardening geek in her spare time.