Hello Covid! Many of us suddenly had to shift from going to work each day to working from home. This caused a major disruption to our daily schedule as a lot of us juggled not only adjusting to working from home but also schooling our children at the same time. Myself included! The good news is that after the shock wore off, a lot of us were able to embrace this new normal. Many friends and colleagues are now working from home indefinitely and while it has its advantages (hello lunchtime laundry!) it can have some disadvantages when it comes to how our bodies respond.
Dedicated work area
Some of us had to adapt quickly to work from home life and that meant not having a dedicated work area. One bonus of having a dedicated workspace is that it helps keep that boundary between work and homelife. If you don’t have a home office, it might take some creativity such as using a guest room or a corner in your living room. A lot of us are in this work from home life for the long haul, with many companies choosing to remain remote. Taking a couple of hours on an off day to set up an area will help you feel more organized, and help keep work at work and home at home.
Yes, some of us actually miss getting up in the morning and getting ready for work. Yes, it was difficult to do this and get kids out the door on time too, but it meant having a routine and knowing exactly how the day was going to start each day. There’s comfort in routines and a lot of us saw first hand what kind of havoc can be brought upon us when there is no routine. Sure, working from home and doing virtual schooling can mean a little extra sleep in the morning once we cut our morning commute (and coffee run) but keeping our wake time within at least an hour of our previous wake time means our sleep schedule won’t be too disrupted. Using an app such as Google Calendar will allow you to put in your schedule for the day, move appointments around, add reminders, and even goals for the week.
Isolation during the pandemic has been one of the most difficult things to adjust to for all of us. Connecting with friends and family has become difficult and we can find ourselves missing those small moments with coworkers we had throughout the day when working on site. Making time to check in with others such as coworkers, friends, and family to keep connections going during this time can go a long way in reducing isolation. Turning off notifications and turning on away messages when no longer working for the day can help us stay present with our loved ones outside of work hours and can help maintain that boundary between work time and home time.
It makes sense that the better we eat, the better we work, but this can be difficult when we have all-day access to the kitchen and pantry. Eating healthfully can lead to being a more productive worker because it improves alertness, contributes to better sleep, and supports a healthy immune system, which is so needed right now and means less sick days. One way around noshing all day while working from home is to pack your lunch just as you would if you were headed into the office. One advantage of packing a lunch rather than reaching for something quick or ordering take-out is the availability of high-quality whole foods such as fruits and vegetables and lean proteins. One of my favorites is tuna packets, which can be added to veggies and even pasta such as chick-pea pasta which packs a protein punch.
Moving from in person work to telecommuting can mean hours in front of the screen. This can mean eye strain, headaches, dizziness, sleep disruption, and even anxiety and depression if breaks aren’t taken. Screen time breaks are mandatory to avoid these unpleasant side effects of working remotely. If able, building breaks, especially to move around and get some steps in will go a long way. If scheduling breaks into your daily schedule is too difficult, see what tasks can be taken offline. Are there calls that can be done over the phone? Memos or notes that can be taken on paper? Another great idea (if the weather allows) is to go outside for a few moments. In the summer this is especially helpful to get some vitamin D (experts suggest aiming for 10-20 minutes a day of mid day sun throughout the week) and give your eyes a break from the screen.
Working from home means that we have to get creative with the furniture we use, as we might not have access to ergonomically appropriate office furniture or things like stand up desks. Our heads and eyes aren’t the only parts that suffer on these long calls. Not to worry. Just like at an office, keep an eye on your posture. Doing a posture “check in” periodically, especially during a long video call can be a good reminder to straighten up. Keeping your screen at eye level by propping it up on a stack of books, supporting your lower back with a small pillow, and placing a small box under your feet to support your legs when sitting are small hacks that can be done with items found around the house. Chair yoga poses done on screen time breaks can also alleviate aches and pains from sitting in front of the computer all day.
Overall, giving ourselves some grace and acknowledging that these are unprecedented times will help adjust to working remotely long-term. Making small changes each day to our work from home routines will produce healthier outcomes for our bodies and our minds. If you should find yourself having difficulty adjusting to these changes or looking for some lifestyle changes to help support your new work-life balance, give us a call to see how we can help.