For example, if you started working from home due to the pandemic, research shows you’re likely working more hours — and more days per week — than you did at the office.
It’s important to address the challenges of working from home, and optimize your life to create better habits to promote health and well-being. Healthy habits like working out or taking breaks can help manage anxiety and reduce the risk of burnout.
Here are some easy tips to create healthy habits when working from home.
Challenges of working from home
When the pandemic hit, the world of work changed forever. Remote working comes with numerous advantages, like reduced commuting time and the potential for better work-life balance. But as the pandemic continues it’s also presented a new slew of challenges, including:
- Feelings of isolation
- Lack of motivation
- Struggles managing disruptions at home
- Difficulty balancing work and life
- Burnout and stress
- Trouble maintaining healthy habits, like eating well and staying fit
How to build healthy habits when working from home
How many times have you been told to maintain your healthy habits at home? It’s not as easy as it sounds. Here are some practical things you can do today to build better habits when you work from your home office.
1. Follow a healthy diet
It’s not easy to follow a healthy diet, especially when your refrigerator is within eyesight. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, a healthy diet includes nutritious foods like fruits, whole grains, vegetables and low fat dairy products.
That means adding things like fish, poultry, nuts and beans, and limiting foods high in sugar, saturated fat, processed foods and salt.
There are plenty of ways to improve your diet in addition to eating healthier foods. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises against skipping meals — including breakfast. When you work from home, you may find that you have less stimulation and reach for a snack to ease the boredom.
Before you grab a snack, ask yourself whether you’re hungry or bored. If you do need a snack, skip the chips or chocolate and stick to fruit or nuts.
2. Drink enough water
Drinking enough water can have significant health benefits in the long term. When you drink enough water, you prevent dehydration, which can cause mood swings and constipation, according to the CDC.
To stay hydrated, water is the best option. You can also opt for a little coffee or tea. However, to maintain healthy habits, avoid things like sugary sodas, energy drinks or fruit juices. These drinks tend to be chock full of sugar.
3. Schedule in exercise
When we work from home, we sit at our desk for hours — sometimes without taking any breaks. However, sitting at our desks all day does not make a healthy human.
Studies have shown that sitting too long can lead to an early death. When you’re working from home, there’s no need to walk across the parking lot to get to your building, or walk down the hall to talk to your boss or coworker or visit the restroom. As a result, you may not be moving as much as you did when you worked in an office.
However, even a few stretches or light exercise each day can make a big difference.
Moving your body frequently might seem inconvenient, but it’s so important to give your body time away from the computer to keep your creative juices flowing. If you seem too busy to work out, consider scheduling exercise into your planner each day (or every other day) to make it work.
4. Build an ergonomic-friendly office space
Suffering from back pain? Other random pain spots? It’s probably because you’re working from a home office that doesn’t follow ergonomic standards.
Many of us have been forced to take those ergonomic trainings at work – and then promptly forgotten everything we learned. But when much of the world’s workforce moved to home offices during the pandemic, they often moved to spaces that weren’t made for office work.
Kitchen tables, couches and spare bedrooms weren’t made for 40-hour workweeks.
What does an ergonomic space mean? According to the CDC, the ideal office chair is complete with armrests and a back that supports the curve of your back. Your feet should rest flat on the floor, and your hips and knees should be at a 90-degree angle.
When you prioritize building a comfortable office space, you might find your pain reducing over time.
5. Stick to strict working hours
It can be easy to feel alienated from your company and your coworkers, especially when everyone is working in different locations. It’s not only important to get your work done, but also to take time to integrate into company culture, like Zoom happy hours and virtual team building events.
But once the clock strikes 5pm, or whenever your office hours end, it’s important to unplug and log off. Since the pandemic started, working hours have only increased. Research shows that more than 60% of workers have clocked more than 40 hours per week over the past year.
Part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle when working from home is setting aside working hours. Just because you work from home doesn’t mean that you should be working non-stop. Setting strict working hours for yourself will allow you to build a better work-life balance.
6. Take regular breaks
When’s the last time you stepped away from your computer for a little walk or a screen break? Taking breaks and connecting with people can be key to avoiding burnout and building a healthier lifestyle.
For nearly two years, much of the workforce has been working from home non-stop. When you’re based at home, socialization doesn’t happen as naturally as in the office. One study recommends initiating conversations with your virtual coworkers about non-work topics.
Another way to avoid loneliness: taking breaks and spending time with loved ones in person, when possible.
Consider turning off the TV and eating meals with your loved ones, or playing a board game. Taking a walk can also be a great way to spend socially distanced time together. If you don’t live together with your family, consider hopping on Zoom or Google Meet.
7. Prepare for the next day
Before your workday ends, make sure to set aside some time to prepare for the next day. It’s a bit of a time investment, but making a simple to-do list or plan will ensure you start on the right foot the next day, stress-free. You’ll likely have improved productivity and mood, making it well worth it.