for Remote Workers
By Holly Landau
You convert your guestroom or part of your bedroom into an office space and buy the most comfortable office chair with the best Amazon reviews. It’s Day One of your new remote job. And you promise yourself that you’ll shut down your computer at the end of the day to maintain that work-life balance. You’ll take a proper lunch break away from the computer and maybe even sneak in a short walk at lunch.
Then, you settle into a routine, and the weeks and months go by. You’ve taken to eating a lot of lunches at your desk or skipping lunch altogether. You may not even realize that you’re working longer and longer hours and that you’ve stopped taking walks at lunchtime (or you do realize, and you feel guilty about it). You’ve broken a lot of promises to shut down your computer at 5 p.m. The boundaries between work life and home life are blurred and many of your healthy habits have disappeared.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 27 percent of U.S. employees are fully remote, up from 6 percent in 2019. Many of you are having challenges with self-care in your new work reality, including Jill, a Program Coordinator in the Healthcare industry in Florida. “I think I get in my own way of self-care since I’ve been working remotely.” Jill started working remotely ten months ago when she made a career change and has already experienced some challenges like feelings of isolation and difficulty disconnecting from work.
The following are some tips to help you prioritize self-care when working remotely:
1. Stretch/move. By now, we’ve all heard that “sitting is the new smoking.” And remote workers are sitting in front of their computer screens for at least eight hours per day and then lots of us will choose a seated leisure activity like gaming or watching television after that. All this sitting can contribute to higher rates of cancer, diabetes, depression, and anxiety, according to the Mayo Clinic. Ideally, you’ll reduce your overall sitting time, but you’ll also need to add some activity to create some balance – and it’s important to add it throughout your day. For example, you can certainly take a quick walk break at lunch, and here’s a simple 10-minute Standing Yoga Stretch, and no mat is needed.
2. Nourish yourself. Stress-eating and the need to grab something quick can steer us away from healthy food choices while working from home. To energize our bodies and sharpen our brains, we need to choose wisely. One of the benefits of working from home is that we can control what we eat, and when we eat. Eat mindfully (eat your lunch away from your computer). Healthy snacks include nuts, seeds, dried/fresh fruit, hummus and whole grain crackers. Stay hydrated throughout the day. Avoid too much caffeine (it’s dehydrating and can cause jitters – if you feel you need more than two cups of coffee, get more sleep instead).
3. Connect in person. There’s a global loneliness epidemic and remote work is one of the contributing factors. According to a Harvard study, 36% of Americans are experiencing “serious loneliness,” so now can be a great time to connect with people in person if you’ve experienced feelings of isolation due to remote work. Try MeetUp or Eventbrite for local in-person events.
Ultimately, self-care while working remotely is a balancing act. You want to connect and engage with your colleagues during work hours and then disconnect when you need a break and when it’s time to power down your computer each day. You want to nourish yourself with healthy snacks and meals in a mindful way throughout the day, don’t skip meals or overindulge. You want to focus and sit intently when attending meetings and working on projects and stretch or exercise when on breaks.
It’s all a matter of balance. Do you have any self-care tips to share for fellow remote workers? Share your ideas with PHM at www.PreferredHealthMagazine.com
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