The Chief Health Officer's formal direction on Friday, was that we continue to work from home where possible. It's likely that these measures will be in place for a while, so we need to find a way to adjust in a way that prioritises our mental and physical wellbeing. Working from home definitely has it's advantages, but we must be mindful of keeping ourselves healthy whilst doing it. Here are some tips to help you work well, whilst working from home.
Have Clear Boundaries
When working in an office environment, you can leave work both physically and mentally when you walk out the door (mostly, I know many of us take work home!). The lines are more more blurred in a home work environment. Our desks and computers are just metres away from us and a constant reminder of work. At the moment, many people are hopping out of bed and starting working straight away, especially when deadlines are looming. Many of us are forgetting about the morning rituals we usually embrace in a more structured work setting such as having breakfast, a coffee and commuting to work. Giving our mornings structure and commiting to daily rituals, can help develop clear boundaries that allow for self-care (and self-care is really important right now). Some ways to set clear boundaries may involve avoiding looking at your phone as soon as you wake (a big one!), setting an alarm to allow for some extra time in the morning before work begins, having a shower and changing into comfy work clothes, writing a to do list or perhaps doing some exercise. You might also like to block off daily time in your work diary for a set lunch break (where you can step away from the computer) plus some breaks in the morning and afternoon.
Take Regular Breaks
Humans are not meant to work non-stop all day. We are not robots, we are natural beings (although sometimes we are expected to work like we are not human). Regular breaks are important to reset and refocus, they reduce mental fatigue and have a positive impact on cognitive function. It is also important to take a break from computer screens. Too much screen time can cause vision problems, headaches and chronic neck and back pain. Taking breaks to hydrate and do some quick stretching, or even stopping to get some fresh air, doesn't take long and is so worth it! I liken it to driving a car. If you have your foot on the pedal the whole day without having breaks, you are more likely to breakdown or run out of petrol sooner, then if you scheduled in times to stop and regroup.
Sitting is now know as the new smoking due to the range of health problems associated with our sedentary lives. When working from home, we even miss out on incidental exercise such as walking to train stations, from car parks to work, up and down stairs and other types of exercise. Movement improves blood flow, balances blood sugar levels, improves cognition and focus and has so many other health benefits. One way to increase daily movement in a work from home setting, is to use the time in the morning that would usually be spent in commute to work, as time spent exercising. There are so many online workouts that you can now access and even moving for 20 minutes in the morning before work will give you benefits that last the whole day. You may also like to set a morning and afternoon alarm to remind you to keep moving. Even a walk around the block before dinner can be a great way to switch off from the work day and can do wonders for your mood and energy levels.
Due to the added pressure from the current economic climate, many of us are prioritising work over self-care. We are working overtime to get more done but in the meantime, allowing less space for our own needs. Prioritising self-care makes us feel better, ameliorates the impacts of stress and can realign ourselves with our purpose and how we are truly feeling (including signs and symptoms that can be ignored if we tell ourselves we are too busy). Self-care can look different for everyone - it might be setting clear boundaries as I mentioned above, getting a regular massage, taking a warm bath, putting aside time to journal or read or even catching up with friends who make you feel good. Life has much more meaning than work!
Get Some Sunshine
We are natural beings living in a primarily unnatural world! We spend the majority of our lives indoors and on computers, and you can't get a much more artificial environment than that! Time spent outdoors can do wonders - sunshine and fresh air is a necessity. I just took a 15 minute break whilst writing this blog and sat outside in the warm beautiful sun and it was glorious! Time spent outdoors strengthens our immune system, boosts our mood, enhances creativity, supports healthy vision and can help restore focus and productivity. Make the most of any opportunity to get outside!
I hope you have found these tips helpful. I've certainly gained some insights into my own work from home situation whilst writing this. If you can any questions or would like to book a naturopathy appointment with me to work through any of your own current health and wellness concerns, book an appointment or contact me here.