How to Work From Home and Stay Healthy
Working from home sounds like a dream. No more long commutes, no more fighting over the thermostat, and you can wear whatever you want.
While it’s true you may never have to worry about missing the train again, you might not realize that working from home may actually harm your health. Sure, you’re not stressed because you’re not stuck in traffic twice a day. And, there aren’t any kitchen goodies or the monthly birthday cake to snack on.
But in spite of all the benefits of working from home, there are some ways working from home can have a detrimental effect on your health. Thankfully, there are several habits you can form to make sure that you stay healthy when you work from home.
Perhaps you’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking. Researchers have found that prolonged sitting increases the risk of developing serious illnesses, like cancer and heart disease.
But, you’re thinking, I don’t sit as much when I work at home. Sure, when you work at home, there’s no commute. But that also means you aren’t walking to and from the office after a commute on public transportation. Or, you aren’t taking a daily hike from the parking lot to your car and back. Even these brief moments of exercise during the workday are better than none at all.
So, make sure you’re getting enough exercise throughout the day. One of the advantages of working from home is that, in most cases, you’re in control of your schedule. If you want to have an intense workout in the morning, great. If you want a small workout in the morning and a Yoga session in the afternoon, you can do that, too. Whatever it is, no matter how small, make sure you’re getting some kind of exercise during the day.
It may be hard to fit in a workout when you work at home. You may not have a home gym, and one may not be close by. Or, if you live in a less than temperate climate, you may not feel motivated to go out when there are several inches of snow on the ground. You work from home to avoid being in that!
Consider getting a treadmill desk or a bike desk to help you move while you work. They’re not for everyone, but for some people, they’re the perfect solution. If that’s not your thing, lots of companies offer low-cost memberships that let you stream workouts at home. Yoga, Barre, you name it, there’s bound to be a streaming workout for you.
Dress for the office
One of the best perks of working at home is no dress code. That’s a fact. You don’t have to wear a suit and tie every day when you work from home. If you want, you can wear your favorite footie pajamas every single day.
But, dressing in PJ’s every day may not set you up for healthy work-from-home success. Researchers have studied how dress can impact how we feel about ourselves and how others view us. More importantly, the studies have found that how we dress can impact our productivity.
Consider this: what does it usually mean when you spend all day in your PJ’s? For lots of us, it’s a signal that we’re sick. And, while we (hopefully) aren’t sick all the time, if we don’t get dressed every day, are we sending ourselves the signal that we’re sick and maybe shouldn’t work as hard? Getting dressed even when you work at home tells your brain that you take this job seriously. That you’re a professional and you’re going to treat the job with respect.
And just because you work from home doesn’t mean you’re invisible. You never know when someone is going to need to video chat with you. Would you rather your coworkers see you in your bunny pajamas or a business casual shirt?
Dressing up for work also helps you set boundaries. When you work at home, the lines between work-life and home-life can get blurred. Getting dressed in the morning helps your mind think, “I’m starting work now,” and helps you get into work mode.
At the end of the day, you can send the same signal. Changing into something more comfortable helps say, “I’m off for the day.” It doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a new outfit. Simply taking off your shoes or removing a sweater can do the trick, making this is a healthy habit when working from home.
Separate Work from Home
At work, people have the weekend to look forward to. They know that for 48 hours they won’t have to look at their desks and see unfinished work staring back at them. And sometimes you need that weekend break to rest, refresh, and ready yourself for the workweek.
That’s not the case when you work at home. Every time you wander past your office you see your desk, your laptop, your notes, and it’s hard not to think, “Well, if I knock this out…” Next thing you know, it’s Sunday night, and you have no idea where your weekend went. You’ve had no time to relax and recover, and that can stress you out.
Worse, you never leave “the office.” Because the office is your house. And, conversely, you never leave “home” because you work at home.
It’s important to establish and maintain boundaries when you work from home. Otherwise, you may feel trapped by your job or that you always have to work. At the same time, your home may never feel like a sanctuary from your job.
While changing clothes is one way to establish those boundaries, there are a few other things you can do to establish and maintain healthy boundaries between working at home and living at home.
Close the Door
If you’re fortunate enough to have a separate home office, try closing the door on the weekend so you don’t have to look at your desk. This helps maintain a visual and physical boundary between work and home. Don’t go into it all weekend unless you have to.
Bonus tip: get a mini-fridge for the office and put your lunch in there in the morning. It’s just like brown-bagging it at work and will help you remember that the office is for work and the house is for fun.
Turn It Off
Unplug completely on the weekends. Turn off the computer and the printer. Don’t “check in” on work unless it’s an emergency.
Also, disable push notifications for all things work related on the weekend. If that’s not an option, only deal with the things you absolutely have to.
If at all possible, get out of the house once a day. Get the mail, run a brief errand, or take a walk around the block. Anything that gets you out of the house for even a few minutes is helpful. If you can’t do that, change your location. Eat lunch on the couch or in the kitchen instead of at your desk.
Maintain Regular Work Breaks
When you work from home, you may feel like you have to stay at your desk all day to prove you’re available and not slacking off. However, not taking any breaks during the day is bad for your health.
Breaks are good for your brain. While unplanned distractions can interrupt your focus and make it hard for you to stay on task, targeted and intentional breaks can help improve your focus.
Taking time away from your main task and doing something different allows your brain to switch gears for a minute. The change lets your brain rest then come back to your task with a renewed focus that helps you maintain your productivity.
You don’t have to do math problems to get a break. Even something simple like taking a walk outside or reading a book in natural sunlight can help. Being in nature can help eliminate mental fatigue and increase your productivity during the day.
Consider a Coworking Space
While it may seem counterintuitive to join a coworking space, there are some benefits for work-at-home workers who drop in every once in a while.
When you join a coworking space, you instantly create a separate workspace for yourself that isn’t your house. It gives your day structure and helps maintain those work-life boundaries that sometimes get fuzzy when you work from home.
Coworking is also a great opportunity to meet new people that aren’t in your industry. This not only grows your network but gives you the chance to learn new skills and maybe creatively solve some of your problems.
If you’re worried that a coworking space will be expensive, don’t be. There are plenty of plans that are flexible and will work with your needs and your budget. Some coworking spaces like the Farm in New York City offer flexible office space for as little as a day at a time if you’re only interested in visiting a coworking space every once in a while. Many coworking spaces offer extended leases, too.
While the idea behind coworking spaces is to share and collaborate, that doesn’t mean you can’t have any privacy. Plenty of coworking spaces offer private offices if that’s more your speed. And, you can still have access to the communal areas when you need a break from yourself.
Forming Healthy Habits When Working From Home
As you can see, working from home has some sneaky ways to impact your life negatively. Fortunately, with a few easy steps, you can live and work at home in a healthy, productive, and happy way.
This is a sponsored post from our friends at The Farm.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
By Rachel Pelta | Categories: Work Remotely