The majority of people in the UK have suddenly found themselves working from home for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19. While this might seem refreshing at first, working from home can present a unique set of challenges, especially when it comes to your health. Maintaining motivation and efficiency as well as both physical and mental health can prove tricky if you are not used to remote working. Below, Numan's Lead GP, Dr. Luke Pratsides, shares his top tips for staying fit and healthy while working from home.
1. Set up a separate office space.
Use a space in your home that’s designated solely for work. Even if you live in a tiny studio, set up a desk and chair to keep the professional separate from the personal. It's also important to invest in a comfortable, ergonomically sound chair that will keep you properly aligned throughout the day.
2. Get up every hour and get out at least once a day.
It can be easy to get stuck in your seat, especially since you feel comfortable in your own space. Set a timer or use an app to remind you to get up and stretch once every hour, and make sure to get outside, even just to walk around the block and get some sunshine and fresh air.
3. Set a schedule and stick to it.
It can be tempting to wake up late and work at odd hours, but your mental health and the quality of your work will benefit from setting a schedule as if you were going into the office. Then: stick to those hours.
4. Plan out workouts.
When you create your schedule, use the flexibility to your advantage. Plan and schedule workouts as you do meetings.
5. Organise active meetings.
Arrange to meet colleagues at the gym to discuss work, so you can get your work and workout done at the same time. If meeting at the gym is not possible, as in the case of the current pandemic where many gyms are closing and social gatherings are not advised, you could find an alternative way to hold active meetings such as video calling each other while going for a walk.
6. Create a soothing environment.
Staying at home means you have free rein over your surroundings, so you can make your work area soothing and keep your stress levels under control. If you love scented candles, place them around your desk. If a beautiful view helps you stay calm, set up your desk in front of a window or within eyesight of artwork you enjoy.
7. Keep the kitchen stocked with healthy snacks and meals.
It can be easy to wander into the kitchen when you know it’s packed with treats, so keep temptation at bay by buying fresh fruits and vegetables and keeping the candy and junk food out of sight.
8. Get involved in a virtual telecommuter community.
It’s important to have some social connection, even in the absence of co-workers. Maintaining healthy social connections improves your overall well-being and helps you stay motivated.
9. If you have children, take breaks with them.
With schools in the UK closing, many parents are facing a new challenge - working from home with children around. This can seem daunting at first, so it's important to regularly remind yourself of the bigger picture: being able to enjoy those moments with your children that you would normally miss at the office. Taking regular breaks to play, teach or keep your children entertained can actually help with your physical and mental health. Just remember to leave your phone at your desk when you do so.
The bottom line
Take care of yourself. Working from home doesn't have to mean falling into bad habits, simply because less people are around to hold you accountable. It equally doesn't have to become a time when you put too much pressure on yourself to do more and complete new goals just because everyone on social media seems to be doing so. The constant change in the world right now can be stressful for everyone and it is important to be aware of doing what is best for you.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have also created some general advice sheets on ways to cope with stress and keep healthy which you can find here. If you have any other questions about the novel coronavirus or any other health issues, email us at [email protected] and a member of our clinical team will get back to you as soon as possible.