Do you work from home and are wondering how to Stay Healthy at Work? Try these simple tips!
Avoid Sitting All Day
I don’t know about you, but working in front of a computer all day can actually be taxing on my body. My hips and hamstrings are tight, my posture is poor and my neck and shoulders tend to suffer.
Our modern lifestyle has led to a lot less of our time spent outdoors doing physical labour but much more time sitting at a computer. When its finally time to relax, we may find ourselves plunked in front of the tv, or even browsing the internet on our computers or smart phones. Many chronic sitters notice tension in their back, neck, shoulders and often suffer from headaches or muscle aches. However, the problem doesn't just lie in tight muscles and poor posture but much for serious health conditions.
One potential way to solve this is a standing desk. I am fortunate enough to have two handy brothers that were able to make me a custom standing desk but don't worry - there are still plenty of options out there! IKEA for example has cheaper ones that you adjust manually and the more expensive hydraulic option that adjusts to your height or can be lowered for when you need to sit again. If you don’t have the space or money for another desk there is also the option of a removable attachment that can be placed on your desk and raised to your height. When you feel like sitting you can just lower it again.
Standing more frequently throughout the day has been linked to lessening your chances of chronic disease, particularly heart disease and diabetes. Poor circulation and concentration are also of concern. There has also been studies that linked standing desks to increase productivity.
What’s really important is that you take time to move during the day whether it’s a walk during your break, or exercising when you get home. If you have the option of using a standing desk throughout the day that is fantastic but it may not be an option for everyone. Another option may be walking or biking to work depending on how close you live.
If you are an employer, I highly recommend you invest in some standing desks or attachments, or at the very least allow employees to get up throughout the day to stretch out and move around. This isn’t just for their health benefit but could give you more productive and refreshed employees. Another option, if you don't need to take notes, is conduct walking meetings where you just walk and talk in or outside of your building.
But like I said before, if you don't have the opportunity to move or stand throughout the day, make time to exercise before or after work. I am not talking about having to lift heavy weights or do high intensity interval training every evening but even just getting out for a walk can be beneficial to your health. Bonus points if you can get outside since many of us, even those who live a healthy life, are considered to be deficient in vitamin D. This largely has to do with our lack of sun exposure and days spent in an office.
Tips for Those Who Work From Home
Its interesting to see how our workplace place has changed over recent years. It seems like more people are able to work from home instead of going into the office every day. This can decrease commute times and allow for people to have more time with their family, relaxing and doing things they love. Plus, it decreases the amount of stress that stems from commuting everyday.
However, working from home is not meant for everyone’s personality. Some individuals are self-motivated and are able to work wherever they are, while others need more structure and less distractions.
I spend a lot of time working from home. I am a very self-motivated person but I am also human and it can be hard to block distractions.
So whether you are able to focus easily or get completely distracted when working from home, I suggest you follow some of these basic steps to keep you on track.
01 USE AN AGENDA
I personally like to have a physical agenda. I have my calendar on the computer where I put in key due dates, meetings, appointments, events but I like to have a physical agenda to write down my daily to-dos. These include anything from calling the dentist to writing a blog post and even brain storming my next big idea.
When I put it down on paper I am more likely to complete it. I am a list checker and there is nothing more satisfying then getting things done.
If you don’t have an agenda, even writing down your to-dos on a sheet of paper is helpful.
02 SET PRIORITIES
Whether its an agenda, piece of paper or an electronic list, its important to set priorities. There are a couple approaches you can take which will depend on your personality type.
If you are someone who procrastinates then I recommend you put those big items at the top of your list and get them done first then focus on the smaller to-do items.
However, if you are like me, you may get overwhelmed by big lists. I work pretty fast and efficiently so I feel better tackling a bunch of the little items at once and then moving on to the bigger items where I feel less distracted and overwhelmed with everything else.
03 BE REALISTIC
You need to be realistic. When thinking about the work you need to get done in a day, be mindful of what you can accomplish. Or if you have a long list, put a star beside the things that actually need to be accomplished today and know that the other items can be completed tomorrow.
04 CREATE A WORKSPACE
Many people working from home may not have a designated office space and generally end up working at our kitchen table or a desk that is shoved in the corner of another room. If you have the luxury of having a separate space for your work then focus on making that space better by decluttering, cleaning up, making it well lit, adding some plants, etc. Personalize it but don’t overwhelm the space. Make it feel comfortable.
Back on the note of decluttering...this is something that should be done whether or not you have a separate office space. Get rid of old papers and receipts that don’t serve you any purpose.
Now, if you don’t have a separate room for your workspace, at the very least try to work from a desk or table that is truly designated for work, not for lunch, not for arts and crafts with the family, not for storage. Set up your desk in the corner of a well lit room where it won’t become subject to people dumping their keys, change and other belongings.
05 KEEP YOUR WORKSPACE YOUR WORKSPACE
Since you are working at home, it may be even be easier to eat at your desk, check Facebook and get distracted. Keep other aspects of your life separate from your workspace. When you are going to eat lunch, then eat it in our kitchen. If you are going to check Facebook, social media or whatever it may be during your break, then step away from your desk to do that.
Since we are on the topic of protecting our health at work, be sure to protect your eyes from blue light from electronic devices. Take breaks from your screen or invest in some prescription or prescription glasses that block out some of the blue light.
I hope you found this article helpful and again, if you do have a standing desk, walk around or stretch during your breaks to refresh your mind, exercise outside of work hours and take breaks from looking at a screen!
Simple Tips for Eating Well During Your Work Day
Now that we covered avoiding staying sedentary and keeping a work life balance now its important to talk about the big one - nutrition. Eating healthy at work can be challenging or even eating in general. But, eating well is essential for staying energized, focused and feeling well throughout the entire workday.
01 START YOUR DAY RIGHT
Staying motivated to eat well at work begins in the home. Start your day off right with a filling breakfast.
02 MEAL PREP AND MENU PLAN
Another step to take at home, in order to stick to your goals, is practice menu planning and meal prep. Menu planning is the first step but meal prep is the most important. If you have healthy food ready and prepped, then you are more likely to pack it and eat it.
03 AVOID TEMPTATION
There can be a lot of temptations at work such as donuts, pizza lunches, or work lunches at your local restaurant. Packing your lunch is step one but also having adequate healthy snacks on hand is important to keep hunger and temptation at bay.
04 GET CREATIVE
Many people don't have access to a microwave or stove during lunch hour so its important to pack delicious foods that can be eaten cold. Try making jar salads, energy balls, sandwiches, hummus and raw vegetables.
05 STOCK UP
Like I said before, pack snacks at work but keep some in your desk for emergencies such as roasted chickpeas and trail mix.
Creating a Wellness Workspace
- Invest in a standing desk or make one
If you are someone who sits a lot during the day, then consider invest in a standing desk or one of those attachments you can put on the top of your desk that allow you to both sit and stand. Some desk move up and down allowing you to sit and stand throughout the day (which is ideal!), but if you have a permanent standing desk like myself, just add a comfortable stool so that you can switch up positions.
It's good to sit and stand throughout the day so don't think you have to stand there for 8 hours. Also, make sure the desk is set for your height to ensure you are not causing more stress on your body.
In my old office I actually cut down a cardboard box so that it was the right height and would put it on the desk with my laptop on and off throughout the day!
- Add all the plants you can!
Plants can truly change your mood. If you are somewhere that doesn't have any natural light, consider fake plants even! If you do have the option for plants in your office, start with low maintenance ones like a cactus or snake plant. I even have a dried arrangement which requires zero maintenance!
- Move and stretch.
This isn't necessarily something you can change about your space but allow yourself to move and stretch throughout the day to avoid neck and shoulder tension and even tight hips and hamstrings from sitting. If you have the space, perhaps leave a yoga matt in your home office to encourage you to move throughout the day. AND bonus if you can take some short walking breaks!
- Keep things white and bright.
Now I know white doesn't necessarily resonate with everyone but the reason I say white is because it allows for a blank canvas and keeps the space looking brighter which is a common issue with offices. Since office spaces are usually the priority in your home, they may not get the largest and well lit room. Try to keep it on the brighter side to make it seem more spacious.
Always keep your water close by to promote hydration.
- Invest in gadgets that promote wellness.
Use an ergonomic mouse to decrease stress on your wrist, blue light glasses to protect your eyes from both blue AND white lights throughout the day and into the evening, and even a laptop stand to make it easier on your neck.
- Keep things organized.
Try to create systems on your computer, in your office closet if you have one, your filing system, etc., to reduce stress and overwhelm throughout the day.
- LAST, but one of my key tips, is to REDUCE CLUTTER!
How can you think straight when you have a million photos, highlighters (most of which are likely dried out), miscellaneous papers, chords and so on?!
- Get rid of all unnecessary papers
- Donate the million of random notepads from businesses, highlighters, pencil crayons, etc., that you know you never use.
- Keep important files in a filing cabinet that is well labelled
- Only keep one pen on your desk and replace it when you need to
- If you need certain files on your desk, invest in some organizational file holders that suit your style
- Try to keep files on hard drives and clouds to reduce paper
- Use iCal, outlook or google calendar if you are fine without a planner
- Use google drive to share files
- Photos are great but try to limit the amount you have on your actual workspace
- Only keep out the things you are using
I hope this helps you create a wellness workspace in your home or even at your place of work. Let me know in the comments what some of your tips are!