Working From Home Takes Mental and Physical Strength
September is the time for adding some structure to your day and settling into a routine. If you’ve been winging it since March, it might be time to set up your home workspace for success. Staying mentally and physically strong can take some effort.
Set up Your Workspace
Having a dedicated work area in your home can help create a mental and physical division between home time and work time.
Physical therapist Jacob Kmiecik of Core Physical Therapy recommends setting up a proper desk and chair for ergonomics.
“Think 90-degree angles for your elbows, hips, and knees. I recommend having your feet flat on the floor then elbows at a 90-degree angle on the desk,” he said.
Keep your wrists in a straight alignment, slightly elevated off the table helps avoid carpel tunnel. From there, aim to have monitor height just below eye level. You might need to prop your monitors up on books or lower your chair. Check out a guide to setting up your desk.
When working, he suggests reminding yourself to sit up straight. A note taped to your computer that says “posture” can be a good reminder.
“Many people hunch forward while sitting, which isn’t good for your neck, shoulders, or thoracic spine,” he said.
“I encourage everyone to get up at least once an hour.” Kmiecik said. “It doesn’t have to be long, 60 seconds. Just take a lap around the house or around the block.”
Set an alarm for every 50 minutes to an hour and stand up for 30 to 60 seconds, Kmiecik suggested.
You can battle that hunched position by using a stretchy band. Kmiecik demonstrates how.
If you can, taking a walk or breaking up your workday with a workout. Anything to prevent yourself from sitting in the same position for 8 hours.
“When you’re working from home, you’re obviously saving a fair amount of time on that commute,” Kmiecik said. “An hour or even more for people. I recommend taking a piece of that time saved and dedicating that to physical activity.”
When your office is in your house, it’s easy to sign on early and check in before bed. Take some time to think about what works for you and your family. For some, it’s keeping work to 8 to 5. Others find that starting early, then taking a break when the kids are up from their naps or home from school can help. Still others need to be connected all day, but could take breaks away from their phone or computer.
Making a “commute” in the form of a walk before and after work can also set a boundary between home and work.
Technology is available to help us connect with our nearest and dearest or the team from afar. Find channels that feel good to you and try to avoid sites that spew negativity.
“There is a growing body of work saying that video conferencing is the best way to curb loneliness working from home,” said Grey Alexander, an executive technical support technician at Premera Blue Cross.
Alexander recommended using solutions like Microsoft Teams to connect.
“Teams enables groups to create their own mini-social networks, which is heavily underutilized,” he said.
He also likes to use technology for physical fitness. For example, set a timer to remind you get get up and move around. You can also use activity trackers to keep you honest about movement or for a little healthy competition among friends.
Avoid Temptation in the Kitchen
Creating a schedule and plan can help to prevent snacking all day when the kitchen is so close and no one is watching. Some nutritionist tips:
- Start with a distraction-free breakfast.
- Schedule in breaks for proper meals and snacks rather than mindlessly eating while working. Scheduling a break also ensures that you can make lunch before you’re starving and energy is low, which is often when we don’t make the healthiest choices.
- Decide before you start working what you will eat for lunch.
- Keep a bottle of water at your desk. Sometimes thirst masquerades as hunger.
- Decide on a swap. Every time I crave a cookie, I will have an orange instead.
Image by PeopleImages