Self-Care Tips for Working from Home

Self-Care Tips for Working from Home

Have you recently started working from home due to the Covid-19 Pandemic? Or have you worked from your home office for years while running your own business or working as a freelancer?

An increasing amount of people have started working from home due to social changes spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, we have seen a rise in the adoption of technological interfaces that allow people to work remotely instead of in an office. The internet has also opened more avenues for entrepreneurs and freelancers to work independently of a traditional work setting, reflecting cultural attitudes regarding work amongst younger generations, such as millennials, who want more autonomy and control over their work lives.

According to an Owl Labs study, 16% of companies worldwide are fully remote, and this trend will likely continue to grow. While working from home can offer many benefits such as increased productivity, saving time and money in commuting, eating out, childcare, and a better work/life balance, it does come with its own unique set of challenges. These challenges can include difficulty separating work from home and personal life, loneliness, clear work communication, collaboration, and working relationships. This article covers self-care tips to address some of the concerns of working from home.

  • Taking Breaks, Proper Nutrition and Hydration

    While working from home can have the potential to increase productivity, it also can cause neglecting basic needs, such as taking adequate breaks, eating regularly, and staying hydrated. Many experience never-ending lists of tasks that can be consuming. While many workers may be more comfortable at home accomplishing these tasks, making them more productive, they can easily get lost in their work. Hours can easily pass by without taking a break, eating lunch, or drinking adequate water.

    One of the best things to combat these challenges is setting yourself a basic work schedule and a more traditional structure. For example, starting at a specific time, taking scheduled breaks, eating at a scheduled lunchtime, and stopping work at a scheduled time can help create a balanced at-home work environment.

    While working from home on a computer, looking at a screen for hours can take its toll. Taking shorter breaks more frequently is better than taking longer breaks and can give your eyes a rest. For this reason, 5-10 minute breaks every hour are recommended and are more beneficial than 15-20 minute breaks every two hours. Getting up to stretch your legs, having a drink of water, using the restroom, or interacting with your family, can give you the mental recharge you need. After a short break, it is easier to continue to be productive and get back on task while maintaining a healthy state of mind.

    One of the most significant benefits of working from home is having the ability to have a bit more control over your diet. While working in a traditional office setting, eating out often instead of bringing home-cooked meals can be tempting, resulting in overly fried, fatty, and salty foods. Working at home, one can prepare healthier meals in advance and more easily pursue dietary changes they may have struggled to adapt to in the past. Incorporating lots of fresh fruits in vegetables into your diet can help give your body the nutrients it needs to function better throughout the day. Eating at scheduled times throughout the day can help avoid fatigue and can help create a more balanced work schedule and structure.

    Having healthy snacks at your desk at home can also help give you the energy and nutrients you need to get through the day. Options such as fresh or dried fruit, nuts, seeds, trail mix, and granola bars are good alternatives. On the other hand, chips and highly processed sweet foods containing refined sugars may leave you feeling tired, jittery, or prone to an energy crash.

    Drinking adequate water is also essential to consider while working from home. It may be easy and tempting to continually reach for coffee or other caffeinated beverages but overconsuming these combined with a lack of eating well can also leave you feeling jittery or experiencing an energy crash. If you struggle to drink water, adding lemon, mint, cucumber, or natural flavorings or drinking carbonated mineral water can help you stay hydrated. Smoothies or protein shakes are also good alternatives to snacks and can help keep you hydrated and help satiate your hunger.

  • Pomodoro Technique

    Another time management strategy is the Pomodoro Technique. This technique breaks your workday into 25-minute work intervals by using a timer. A 5-minute break between intervals separates each interval, and each interval is called a Pomodoro. After about 4 Pomodoros, you take a more extended 15-20 minute break.

    Within the 25-minute intervals, you focus intensely on the work at hand and ignore distractions. If you have a thought that comes into your mind unrelated to the task you are focusing on during the work interval, you write it down and address it during one of your breaks or at the end of the day. The idea is to set yourself up for success and productivity by focusing on short bursts of highly productive work, ignoring distractions, and taking more frequent short breaks. This can be compared to sprinting short distances and often resting instead of running a marathon. Many people who work from home have found this technique helps to focus more intently on their work and avoid multi-tasking.

  • How Sunlight Can Boost Productivity

    Research has shown that workers who have access to natural sunlight have a significant difference in overall physical and mental health, affecting productivity and work quality. For example, a study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago has shown that workers who work near windows that let in natural sunlight slept 46 minutes longer per night than those who work in environments that do not have windows that let in natural daylight. Those who worked close to windows also had higher levels of physical activity and overall quality of life regarding health and vitality. This is due to a relationship between exposure to natural sunlight and the human circadian rhythm, which dictates many bodily functions.

    Positioning your desk next to a window where you can be exposed to natural sunlight, going outside for walks, or out on a balcony during breaks can help you get an adequate amount of sunlight exposure during the day as you work from home. Incorporating these things throughout your day can also give you needed mental breaks as you observe nature and your surrounding environment.

  • Advice for Posture

    One of the biggest challenges working from home can be maintaining good posture. While traditional office settings are often equipped with proper desks and chairs that promote good posture, many people who have recently started working from home may not have an adequate home office setup in their homes. This section will cover some tips for promoting good posture while working from home.

    Pay attention to your body. Be mindful if you find yourself slouching or if any area of your body feels discomfort, and make the proper adjustments. Focus on maintaining an S shape curvature in your spine. If you do have a desk, positioning your chair fully underneath your desk helps promote good posture. Chairs with armrests are preferential to those without. If you are looking to purchase a desk and/or chair for your home, look for those designed with ergonomics and posture in mind.

    Sitting for long periods is not recommended. Getting up and moving around every 30-40 minutes can help reduce strain on your body and be an excellent reminder to check and reset your posture when you sit back down. For example, look down at your computer with your eyes instead of your neck. A laptop stand can also help raise your laptop closer to eye level, which can help with your posture. Take breaks to stretch. No matter where you are working, you can make your workspace more conducive to promoting good posture, such as using cushions to push your body into the proper position.

  • Separating Work and Personal Life

    Another challenge remote workers face is separating their work and personal lives. When you are working from home, it can be hard to do so as you technically never leave your workspace to "go home," and it can be easy to continue with work and not separate time for yourself and other aspects of your life. However, the following tips can help you set clear boundaries that help keep your mind off work while enjoying your downtime.

    Set your work schedule and stick to it. Doing so can push back other activities and responsibilities in your life, which could eventually lead to you going to bed later, impacting your sleep. This can potentially affect your work performance and further impact your personal life.

    Try to avoid working extra hours past the allotted time for work. Avoid checking and responding to your work emails when you have finished your workday. Also, try to avoid talking about concerns about work with family, friends, and colleagues outside of work.

    Have a set routine to follow when you "get off" of work. This can be a ritual that helps you unwind and take your mind off work. Going for a walk, running errands, taking a shower, journaling, going out to eat with friends and family, or cooking dinner at home are some potential options for a daily ritual that helps you take your mind off work and focus on other areas of life. Having interests, hobbies, and projects outside of work and enjoying the personal relationships in your life are also beneficial aspects of having a healthy work/life balance. Focusing on getting adequate and high-quality sleep based on a set sleep schedule will also help your daily routine and create a well-balanced life when working from home.

In Conclusion, working from home can be a rewarding and liberating aspect of one's life; however, it must be balanced with healthy habits to maintain a routine that enhances one's overall quality of life.


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