The COVID-19 pandemic means that
all of us are having to adopt some very significant lifestyle changes. Whether
you’re social distancing, self-isolating or have been instructed to work from
home by your employer, working from home presents its own set of challenges.
Not only can it be difficult at first to maintain productivity (although, some people may find their productivity actually improves!), but it can also
impact on your health.
Here are a few tips for maintaining
a healthy lifestyle when you’re working from home:
Set up a comfortable working space
One of the most notable changes
you’ll find when working from home is that your working space is drastically
different. Many of us don’t have an ideal home office setup, but there are a
number of things you can do to make sure that the space that you’re working in
is optimal for working long hours.
First and foremost, make sure that
you’re sitting in a way that helps maintain good posture. Working from the
couch, from bed or from the floor can put your body into a slouched position.
While this is fine for short periods of time, slouching for hours over the
course of the day can wreak havoc with your back and neck. Given that many of
us are already restricted in how much we can exercise due to self-isolation,
quarantine, or the closure of gyms, you certainly don’t want to restrict your
movement further by giving yourself an injury.
Ideally, it’s best to sit on a
chair where you can have your feet on the ground and your back supported. You
may find that it’s more comfortable for your neck to elevate your laptop, using
a laptop stand. These are relatively inexpensive to purchase and can help to
move your computer to eye-level so you can keep your neck in a neutral position
while you’re working.
Plan activity breaks
Movement is a huge part of
maintaining good overall health. Unfortunately, working from home tends to
minimise activity levels for most people. In fact, if you don’t put in a little effort, you may find that the only exercise you’ve
done is to walk from your desk to the kitchen, bathroom, and couch!
Being sedentary presents some
pretty significant problems when it comes to our health. According to Safe Work Australia, prolonged sitting is associated with a range of health problems,
Luckily, small pockets of time
spent being active can add up very quickly over the course of the day. One of
the best ways to ensure that you’re getting enough movement is to set a timer
and take a five-minute break to get up and move. Some people find that they
need a solid hour to get into the flow of their work, while others prefer a
shorter time period. Why not try using the Pomodoro Method? This strategy uses
blocks of 25 minutes of work, followed by a 5-minute break. After you’ve
completed 4 of these cycles, you then take a longer break of 20-30 minutes.
There are plenty of apps that you can use to help you time your blocks of work
and breaks. Focus To-Do: Pomodoro Timer & To-Do List works on Android and iOS, as well as Mac and
Fill your breaks with either
household chores like hanging out the laundry or a quick vacuum, a walk around
the block, stretching, or a few bodyweight exercises like squats or push-ups.
Give your eyes a rest
As a child, did you ever hear that
too much TV would give you square eyes? Well, luckily, staring at a screen for
hours won’t permanently damage your eyes (or change their shape), but it can
result in some uncomfortable symptoms. They tend to fall under the category of
‘eye strain’, and include blurred vision and headaches, as well as eyes that
According to the American College of Ophthalmology, research shows that humans normally blink 15
times every minute, but blink only 5 to 7 times per minute while using
computers and digital screen devices. This is important because blinking keeps
eyes moistened, and less blinking means that your eyes can become dry and
Dry eyes can be treated with eye drops, but they can also be prevented by taking regular breaks from
looking at your screen. One of the easiest ways to do this is to use
the”20-20-20” method. This simply means that every 20 minutes, you shift your
eyes to look at an object at least 20 feet (about 6 metres) away, for at least
Avoid comfort eating
Ever noticed that when you’re home
on the weekend, the fridge can seem to call your name? It’s very common for us
to snack or graze when we’re experiencing feelings of boredom, stress, or grief
— emotions which are quite justified given the current pandemic. Comfort eating is fine in moderation, but when done in excess it can become
problematic, perhaps causing us to overeat or consume too many processed,
There are a few ways you can help
to curb the temptation of comfort eating. Firstly, try to limit the amount of
highly processed, lower-nutrient foods in your home, such as chips, biscuits,
cakes, chocolate, or lollies. Secondly, try and make sure that you’re regularly
eating healthy meals. Some people in self-isolation may find that they have a
bit of extra time on their hands, which could be used towards learning some new recipes and prepare a few healthy meals for the household.
Schedule in some rest
It’s perfectly natural to feel
stressed during this period of uncertainty. In small doses, stress isn’t too
problematic. But prolonged periods of stress, called chronic stress, can result in
symptoms like poor digestion and sleep which impact our bodies ability to
effectively fight off disease or infection.
Now is an excellent time to
implement some stress management strategies to help you cope. One method which
is backed by research is meditation and mindfulness practices. These practices
can help us to stop worrying about the future, and bring us back into the
present moment. There are a number of excellent apps for mindfulness and meditation which provide an easy, approachable way of
learning and practising these strategies.
If that’s not for you, it’s
perfectly fine to just schedule in some time to rest and indulge in an activity
that you enjoy. Reading books, watching movies, baking, gardening, journaling,
or having a soak in the bath are all excellent ways of unwinding and taking
your mind off of your worries.