In just a short few weeks, the world has completely changed. The buzzing streets of New York became empty. Restaurants, bars, gyms and theaters closed. Any spaces seeing gathering of people had to shut their doors. In just a few days, city dwellers found themselves at home twenty-four/seven. Now, they are all working from home. Can you imagine? 90% of the 8.6 million New Yorkers working from home? And one question remains. How to stay healthy in that context?
Even if this post is all about our top tips on how to stay healthy while working from home, it goes even beyond that. Not so long ago, as spring was showing, flowers were blossoming, we were all getting ready to enjoy the sun and spend as much time outside. Human are social creatures after all, they thrive on social interactions. And then the pandemic happened and we all found ourselves inside, working from home, unable to enjoy the outdoors.
How to stay healthy while working from home
How, then, can human keep sane while cooped up inside, unable to walk outside, properly work out or enjoy the sun in the park? Because even if technically it is allowed to go for a run, for the safety of the greater number, and in an attempt to stop the spreading of the virus, better stay inside. So, how to stay healthy while working from home? How efficiently can you work from home? And how to not loose your mind while working from home for a long period of time? How to take care of both physical and mental health? Read below for all the answers!
1. Set up a dedicated work space
Your physical surrounding area has a huge impact on your mind and work mindset. Your bed, couch or the floor are to be avoided since they will make you lazy, sluggish or even sleepy. All of those could make you sloppy and hinder both your productivity and the quality of work you deliver while working from home. Furthermore, bringing work material to areas meant for relaxing might indeed disrupt your ability to relax later one. A bed is great for many things, but not for working.
You may not be able to create a fully separate space, especially if you live in a studio flat in New York City. However, even using your dining table during the work day for that sole purpose or moving a small desk in a corner will do. You need to create a space that you will associate with work and productivity, and that will increase your output and concentration.
Setting up a dedicated work space is one great way to stay healthy while working from home. It is great for your mental health. Indeed, it assures you have the proper materials readily available, will indicate to others in your household that you are 'at work' and it will trigger a working mindset. Being away from distraction and comfort will help be more productive and focus. Plus, it will make it feel like you are at work in your office.
2. Set up a soothing environment
Working from home provides an opportunity that the office life does not. You have total control over your surroundings and that can really help you setting up the perfect work environment for you. Remove anything around you that stresses you out or stirs up some anxiety in you. Anything that makes you feel uncomfortable? Same. It is your space after all so you might as well do whatever you want.
If you enjoy having scented candles around your desk and classical music on repeat, indulge. Who will tell you off anyway? And if it helps you keep your stress level under control, then it is worth it. Beyond creating a relaxing work environment, make sure that you are physically comfortable when you work. Make sure your chair is comfortable, that it does not hurt your back and that you sit straight.
Try to create your work space away from distraction. Consider lighting, noise levels and location as well. Working by the window is great. It provides sun, light and a great view. In that case, make sure you use sunscreen because even indoors, a prolonged exposure to the sun will incur sunburns. Keep the space clean at all time. You can even add some greenery as some research suggests adding plants to your workspace can help lower your stress levels.
3. Stick to a work schedule
You need to treat working from home like working in the office. The hours are the same, the routine is the same, and the amount of work you do should also be the same. No supervision does not mean going out of board and getting trapped into a malfunctioning schedule that may hurt your mental health. It is critical to create structure to your day. You do not have to be very strict. Even an outline can help you stay on task and prioritize your workload.
If you work 9 to 6 in your office, it is a good idea to stick to that framework. It will give structure to your day, make it feel like you are getting into work and also will help you know what you can accomplish in a day. You also need to schedule a lunch break as well as short breaks every two hours. Taking breaks helps productivity. Sticking to your usual work schedule is also very helpful to make the most of your most productive hours.
As human beings, you cannot focus all day long. You will need break but there will also be hours of the day where you are not 100%. And that is fine. You need to work around that. Consider the time of day you feel most energized and alert, as well as time of day where you are not, then organize your tasks and breaks accordingly.
4. Prepare meals
Your brain is like an engine. It needs fuel. And it needs high quality fuel. Nutrition is essential to keeping you both healthy and productive, throughout the day. And also in the long run. Staying at home all day, it may be tempted to give in to comfort food. Remember that heavy, fatty and unhealthy food will impact your mood and energy levels. Which is why you need to stay away from sugary treats (for now) and try as much as possible to establish a balanced food diet.
Make sure your cupboard is stocked with healthy foods and snacks. You can cook in batches to ensure that you have a meal ready for the next day. Thus, you won't be tempted to eat comfort or fast food. Avoid sugary drinks or refined carbs (i.e. white bread, baked goods). They will give you a short-term energy boost with a spike in insulin followed by low blood sugar. This can lead to a lack of concentration and feeling jittery, sweaty, or hungry.
Sugar calls for sugar. It can be hard to cut sugar out of your life. However, as you work from home and social distance, the opportunity to get into intense workouts is drastically reduced. Thus, you need to adjust your diet. Stock on healthy snacks such as fruits, nuts and yogurts. Remove biscuits, baked goods and candies. You may get back to eating them at the weekend, but during the work day, you are better off without them. Plus, unhealthy food also have a bad impact on your skin.
5. Get into indoors fitness
The gyms are now closed as social distancing is the rule. It is also strongly advised to avoid getting outside, so going for a run, even though not prohibited, should be avoided. How to stay healthy if you can't exercise? How to work out if you do not have any equipment? Fortunately, the internet and Youtube are provided us with great answers. And the opportunity to stay healthy while working from home.
You do not need to buy equipment, an indoor bike or a treadmill. A yoga mat is all you will need to stretch or, well, do some yoga. Some fitness routines will not even require anything other than you wearing your workout outfit. A lot of fitness influencers are offering their fitness routine for free during the pandemic. Other share them on Youtube anyways. If you were signed up to a gym, the membership may give you access to online fitness lessons you can do at home.
As you stay home all day, do not move much from that desk, it is critical that you partake into some physical activity. That is how to stay healthy while working from home. When you work all day, little fat is being burnt by your body. Thus, it is important that you schedule a little workout in your calendar. Furthermore, getting into an indoors fitness routine will help lower your stress levels, boost your energy, and will keep you focused and disciplined.
6. Walk around your house
If you live in a small studio flat in New York City, the distance you will be able to walk is pretty short. Yet, it will still allow you to stretch, move around a bit, get your body to work and wake you up. You might even combined this with some stretching or a little workout to keep you fit and healthy. Or have a little dance to shake your body.
Avoid leaving the house as the whole point of social distancing is to stay inside so that we get the pandemic under control. If your building has a courtyard or a small garden, put your mask on and go for a short walk. You will get some fresh air in the process. You may also go up and down the stairs. Is is exercise and it gets you moving.
If you feel like it, you may even try to achieve those 10,000 steps your phone recommends to you do. Sure it may take time to achieve that goal when you can't walk very far, but even a little moving around always help. Sitting, not always in the best way, might hurt your back so it is important to you get up, walk, stretch, wake up.
7. Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water is key to staying healthy and to have a great skin. It is also essential to stay hydrated, especially if you work by that window in the sun. Dehydration may lead to fatigue and headaches, even migraines, which you should try to avoid. Indeed, Ibuprofen, which is used to heal migraines, may not be good to use if you get coronavirus. Paracetamol is safer, but migraines being very annoying, better avoid them no matter what.
Headaches and fatigue will impact your alertness and ability to focus, which will also affect your productivity and how much work you get done. Have a big bottle of water in your desk at all time. Refill when it is empty. Drink as much as you can. Ideally, you should drink 1.5 liters of water a day. If you have trouble drinking water, here are 25 ways to drink more water. Water is also great to remove the feel of hunger. While working from home, you may get bored at some point. People who get bored tend to eat more. In that context, water is great to suppress hunger.
8. Find a good work-life balance
It may be difficult to establish boundaries while working from home. After all, your office is also where you sleep and eat. Your home is your office. This removes the clear setting you had when commuting and sitting at your desk. When you get to work, your work day starts. When you leave, it stops. At home, the lines between "work" and "home" can quickly blur, which may in some extreme cases lead to inability to unplug and burn out.
You cannot allow your workday to bleed into your free time. That is why it is so important to establish clear boundaries between work hours and after work hours. You need to establish a good life balance and force you to unplug for good after the workday ends. This is also why sticking to a strict work schedule is so important.
If your personal laptop is also your work laptop as you temporarily work from home, closing all work related tabs and windows signals that it is the end of the workday. You may then transition to your personal time and do things for yourself.
As we are all working from home, it is important that we respect social-distancing rules now as much as possible. This is only if we stay home that the virus will stop spreading and that we will be able to get out again. The sooner we do it, the sooner it ends. We know that it can be hard to stay inside all day, to stay fit and healthy while working from home, but it is important to we endure.