Working from home comes with a lot of perks. You have a flexible schedule, can work immediately without taking a shower, can attend Skype meetings in your pajamas, and can do away with the hassle of having to use public transportation.
However, since working from home is still a relatively new concept compared to the traditional nine-to-five office job, many employees and entrepreneurs find themselves falling into the work-from-home traps such as gaining weight, losing sleep, and developing a myriad of unhealthy habits. This brings into question whether it is harder to stay healthy when working from home.
Is it really more difficult to stay healthy when working from home?
For a lot of people, not being used to the work-from-home setup can make it difficult for them to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is often because there are a lot of things you can do freely at home that are not usually allowed whilst working in a typical office setting.
For example, depending on your job, there aren’t the same hard and fast rules that apply to an outside corporate setting. No one is there to tell you to be at your desk according to a certain schedule, so you can oversleep or skip sleep altogether. You also get unrestricted access to your pantry and your fridge. Plus, you can choose to work from your bed or from the living room floor, and nobody is there to prompt you to do otherwise.
However, there are many different techniques and methods that you can adopt to avoid falling into the unhealthy lifestyle trap. On paper, working from home may seem harder because there are more temptations to eat unhealthily or to abandon a fitness schedule, but if you think about it, working from home affords you the freedom to make healthy lifestyle choices that are often unavailable in the office.
How to stay healthy while working from home
Many self-help articles advise that it may be beneficial to work as if you are in the office. This means having a “routine” such as dressing up for work, and setting regular work hours.
While these tips may seem ideal, many people work from home to avoid the routine! A new mother, for example, would rather work from home so she can attend to her crying baby anytime. You can’t really tell a baby that you’re on a schedule. Many people also appreciate that they can change up their routine and would cringe at the suggestion of working as if they’re in an office.
So, what can you do to stay healthy while working from the comforts of your home? Here are five tips to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle while working from home.
1. Work in a dedicated space
Just because you are working from home does not mean you should work while in bed or in the kitchen. Set up a dedicated space where you can station your laptop and your devices. If you don’t have a spare room to convert to a home office, a table and a comfortable chair in a quiet corner will do. This will prevent you from developing body pains from having to assume an uncomfortable position like lying in bed while using your laptop.
Having your work limited to one area also means less distractions. This can help you become more focused and productive. This also allows you to keep the rest of your living space as a personal space where you can relax and attend to non-work-related activities.
2. Eat proper meals
Often times, healthy eating at work is very difficult because the availability of healthful food choices are limited. When you work from home, this should not be a problem.
One of the major benefits of working from home is that you have access to your own kitchen so you are in control of what types of food are available. You have all the power to stack your fridge with fresh fruits, vegetables, and ingredients for a healthy, home-cooked meal. Skip the junk food!
No matter how busy you are, make sure that you are making time to eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Avoid eating while you’re working because that can result in mindless eating. When you don’t focus on your food, you are more likely to overeat or make poor food choices.
3. Take micro breaks
In the office setting, some business managers believe that coffee breaks are productivity killers. The argument is that it disrupts the focus and concentration of employees so they get less work done. However, there have been studies showing that taking breaks are actually beneficial because when employees don’t have time to relax and recharge, they tend to be less efficient, less engaged, and they make more mistakes.
The good news is that when you’re working from home, you have the flexibility to take these micro breaks. Don’t fall into the trap of not knowing when to stop working. One of the benefits of working from home is being able to have a better work-life balance, so don’t look at it as a chance to overwork yourself more until the wee hours of the morning.
Know when to stop. Make sure to take a small break every half an hour or at least once every hour. Grab a healthy snack, walk around, have coffee, or drink water. This will help you clear your mind, stretch your muscles, and improve your blood circulation. Set an alarm on your phone or laptop to remind you to take a break if you tend to forget.
4. Schedule time for physical activity
One of the reasons many people who work from home gain weight is due to lack of physical activity. It’s quite obvious that the walk from your bed to your laptop desk is much shorter than the normal home to office commute. This can make you more sedentary.
While it may seem amazing at first that you don’t have to exert physical effort to get to work, this can be detrimental to your health. Without physical activity, you’ll have less energy and will feel lethargic. This lazy feeling is also what causes many people to turn to unhealthy food choices like candy and ice cream to get a sugar rush.
When you work from home, schedule time for physical activity. You can use the time you saved from not commuting to work to try out exercise classes like yoga, boot camp, spinning, and boxing. You can also try out new sports and join community sports events.
If you aren’t ready to commit to an exercise schedule, make time to get out of the house and walk around the block. Go to a nearby café, interact with people or go grocery shopping. Make sure that you’re moving your body every single day.
5. Reduce clutter
Being healthy does not only pertain to your physical health. You also have to be mentally healthy. This is not possible if you’re always stressed out, anxious, and disorganized.
Working from home can be challenging and stressful because most of the time, you only have yourself to depend on for a lot of things. You don’t have the luxury of having an IT department when your laptop breaks down, or a receptionist to screen your calls.
There are many different ways to minimize your stress, but one simple step you can do right now is to reduce clutter in your workspace. According to studies, clutter affects the brain and serves as a visual reminder of disorganization. This could reduce the ability to focus, make you unproductive and drain cognitive function.
Staying healthy while working from home
Working from home has a lot of advantages but it can also have its downsides, including the possibility of developing unhealthy habits. Keeping these tips in mind can help you jumpstart a healthier experience while you’re working from home.
Nathan Sharpe is a business advisor and business writer at Biznas. He has helped many clients solve their business problems, and now imparts his advisory knowledge onto others to help them improve their businesses too. Find Nathan on Twitter and LinkedIn.