Your mental and physical health are very important and should always be one of your top priorities. If you’re not feeling mentally or physically well, it will have a negative impact on both your home and work life. While this is true no matter where you’re working from, if you’re working from home you’re naturally faced with different challenges that might negatively influence your wellbeing even more.
Let’s have a closer look on what these challenges are and how you can take care of them.
When you’re working from home there is no doubt that you tend to move less: there is no commute to work, no walking around the office building, no walk to and fro meeting rooms or other departments, no walk to get coffee or lunch, and of course no commute back home, no walking into a store you’re intrigued by or even taking a detour simply because the weather is nice.
At the end of the day all those movements, which are a simple consequence of where you work, add up to a significant amount. But when you’re working from home and you don’t have all those spontaneous and additional opportunities to move around, then you’ll need to actively seek and create them.
Schedule some exercise before or after your work day, or use your breaks to do some light workout such as yoga or some stretching. Opt for a standing desk and try to frequently change your working position so to keep your body moving. Track your steps to help you have an overview on how much movement you actually do in a day and to see the improvements you are making.
Apart from a lack of movement, there is also a lack of simply spending enough time outside. In order to maintain your wellbeing it is very important that you get your daily dose of fresh air, some sunlight and even spend some time immersed in nature.
Use the flexibility that working from home gives you and try to enjoy some sunshine whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Since you don’t have to commute, you can use that time to go outside instead, or you can for example think of going for a stroll while doing some work-related phone calls. Also, why not doing a brainstorming session out in nature so to fuel your creativity rather than staring at the blank walls at home.
In general, try to think about which tasks can only be done from within your home office and which tasks could instead be done outside, while walking or while sitting on a bench at the park. This will give you some more opportunities to move, to give your eyes some rest and generally to shake things up and bring some variety to your day.
No doubt that a healthy diet is key, but when there is no office cafeteria or restaurant nearby providing a fast and easy solution, eating a healthy meal becomes more of a challenge.
Within the comfort of your own walls, and especially if you feel like cooking is not your thing, it’s very easy to make the mistake to simply grab something from the fridge or, even worse, from the snack cabinet, and eat it hastily in front of the computer. Let alone taking the time to do a proper 1 hour (or more) lunch break to detach from work and cook something tasty and nutritious.
To make things worse, when we’re hungry we’re not good at decision making, and it’s therefore even more important to plan ahead.
Help yourself and research quick and easy recipes which don’t require too much time for preparation and cooking but still provide the right nutrients; maybe even try to bulk cook your meals but make sure to have some variety too. Finally, opt to have healthy snacks around your work area so you won’t get tempted to eat unhealthy things.
Another big struggle when working from home is loneliness. There are no colleagues around to run into or to go have lunch with, at least not physically; no acquaintances you regularly bump into during your commute and no spontaneous chats with the barista at your trusted coffee shop on the way to work.
Sometimes it’s not even the chat that’s missing, but it’s the simple fact of seeing others going about their day, seeing others lamenting about the weather, or seeing someone enjoying their coffee in the sun, just as you do. This helps us all feel less lonely and be part of something, feel part of society, which is instead sometimes hard to grasp by just looking out of our apartment windows.
The good news is that technology allows us more than ever to socialize, no matter if you’re an extrovert or an introvert. It doesn’t have to be another video call, it can also just be an online forum where you can share your worries, chat with like minded people and share what you’ve been up to.
Make sure to also dedicate some time for social interactions and make an effort to plan them ahead so you won’t forget or chicken out. Get a drink with a friend after work, look for events or meet ups you might enjoy joining (online or offline), and simply enjoy the small daily interactions like chatting to the local barista while treating yourself to a morning coffee.
Try to use every opportunity to make those small little interactions, because each one counts and will make a difference.
Ubiquitous internet access and technology make work and private life intertwine more and more, and if work and private life happen in the same place then it becomes almost impossible to divide the two.
In fact, how do you switch into work mode when you barely moved away from your bed and you were still in your pj just a minute ago? How can you feel at work if you’re still in the very same place where you’ve just washed your dishes?
It’s equally difficult to “leave work” and “go home” when there is no place to leave and no place to go to, and when you’re in fact already at home.
We need different and well defined spaces where one area of our life does not contaminate the other; because the right environment helps us to understand the context we’re in so that we can adopt the right mindset. One might help us to focus when we need to, while another enables us to relax and recharge.
To trace this line and define different spaces when working from home is definitely a challenge. If you can, have a dedicated area just for work, and if that is difficult, try to make sure that you clear away any work related stuff after you’re done for the day. Even simply leaving the house when work is over, so as to create the illusion of leaving work and coming back home, can be a big help.