Working from home comes with numerous perks. You don’t have to worry about a long commute, and it can be easier to manage your household responsibilities. Plus, you’ll enjoy more flexibility in how you dress for the day (depending on video conference meetings, of course!).
Still, remote work requires you to take proactive measures for your health. Whether you’re new to the home-office lifestyle or you’re just looking for a tuneup, there are several steps you can take to maintain healthy daily routines. Here are a few cost-effective tips for promoting physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Seemingly minor adjustments to your home workstation can make a huge difference over time.
Carefully consider the positioning of all items you use regularly, from the keyboard to your mouse and monitor. If you use two screens, make sure they’re angled appropriately. According to ergonomics guidelines from Indiana University’s Department of Environmental Health and Safety, if you use both monitors equally, they should be set up in the shape of a shallow “V.” If one of the displays serves as your primary monitor, it should be directly in front of you, with the second monitor situated next to it at a 30-degree angle.
Set your desk and monitors at the appropriate working height for you, too. A recent Wirecutter article on creating ergonomic workstations mentioned that keyboards should be positioned so you can type while your forearms are parallel to the ground or angled slightly downward. Desks that offer adjustable height options can help you navigate various configurations while alternating between sitting and standing as desired. The authors also specified that monitors should be set about an arm’s length away, with the top of the screen just a couple inches above eye level.
Hydration is central to wellness. According to the Mayo Clinic, getting enough water can help keep your screen-weary eyes hydrated and loosen up joints, which may get stiff from sitting at your desk all day. Plus, walking to the kitchen sink to refill your glass offers a welcome excuse to move those legs.
At the office, you might be used to grabbing fresh, filtered water from a cooler. Getting the same convenient, unlimited supply of high-quality water available at home can help you stay hydrated and ready to go throughout the day.
One option to consider is a reverse osmosis system. RO systems make it easy to get great-tasting water on demand, without having to deal with the hassle of refilling filtered pitchers or buying (and throwing away) all those single-use bottles. Beyond that, reverse osmosis is the most effective way to address a broad range of potential impurities in your drinking water, so you can make sure you’re getting cleaner, safer water to power you through your workday.
Sitting at a desk all day can be a lot more taxing than it sounds. Make sure to take breaks that allow you to stretch. Simple flexibility exercises can help you keep your body from tensing up after a long day online. Find a virtual yoga class, or just take a few minutes each day to loosen up your hamstrings, quadriceps, shoulders or other joints and muscles.
Check in with yourself throughout the workday, too, to make sure you’re maintaining good posture. This will help you avoid soreness throughout your body or aches and strains. A recent CNN article with several useful tips mentioned that experts recommend getting up from your seat to stretch or move around about every 30 minutes. Any excuse to move those legs will work, whether that means filling up a fresh glass of water or committing to stepping out on the front porch twice a day.
If your work requires you to spend long stretches of uninterrupted time looking at a computer monitor — or two or three of them — you may be susceptible to eyestrain.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology has several tips for those of us who have to spend a lot of time working with digital screens. For example, the 20-20-20 rule is a guideline that encourages you to look at an object 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes. Refocusing your eyesight every once in a while is especially important if you have a quiet, distraction-free remote working environment.
Working from home means unfettered access to the household snack supply. However, munching while you work can lead to eating on autopilot. Avoid overindulging in high-sodium items or super sugary snacks by portioning out your desired amount ahead of time and sticking to regular meals as best you can, ideally away from your workstation.
If you’re the type to munch at your desk, you can stay healthy by keeping only better-for-you snacks on hand. Fruits with natural packaging are a great option to keep within reaching distance – like clementines and bananas. A recent blog post from Cleveland Clinic also recommended including a dash of protein, like nuts or peanut butter, to tamp down on cravings. Instead of stocking your workspace candy jar with chocolate, opt for almonds or a nut-based trail mix.
If it only takes a few steps for you to go from the bed to your desk, you may need to get creative about incorporating more exercise activities into your daily routine.
Everybody’s schedule is different, so find a time that works for you. If you’re an early riser, see if you can head out for a quick jog before getting down to business for the day. Some people prefer a lunchtime stroll or an after-work bicycle ride to shake off their stress. You could also install a pullup bar in your office doorway or keep some free weights under your seat to knock out a few reps between meetings.
Are you used to working out with an accountability buddy at the gym after a long day? See if you can still set up a time together to keep your routine going, even from afar or while going outdoors. Adding exercise outings to your calendar can also ensure you keep making progress toward your fitness goals.
No two jobs are the same, and depending on your responsibilities at work, you may be required to put in a lot of time and effort to support your colleagues. It’s easy for working from home to turn into working around the clock. Do what’s best for you to ensure that you’re getting a good night’s sleep and satisfying your own needs for a healthy, happy life at home — during work hours, and when it’s time to log off.
Prioritize relationships with your friends and family and be present during those moments. Scheduling social interactions — whether remotely or conducted safely in person — can be a great way to reconnect with your life outside the home office. Don’t forget to mute your notifications, if you can!
Following these tips can help you enjoy the benefits of working from home without some of the possible drawbacks. Make sure to take the time you need to promote your physical, emotional and social well-being so you can get the most out of your remote work lifestyle.