The COVID-19 pandemic pushed millions of people to work from home in the past year and a half. Besides the danger of catching the virus, we are also facing several other perils to our health. Beyond the usual domestic accidents, working from home usually means isolation and a sedentary lifestyle. In time, these are taking a toll on everyone’s physical and mental health. So how can you stay healthy in such challenging times?
In this article, we will explore the risks associated with working from home. Furthermore, we’ll find simple, but efficient solutions to conquer these challenges.
Weight gain is never healthy
In 2020, after the first 3 months of quarantine, about half of the men and a third of the women participating in a WebMD survey reported that they experienced weight gaining. Lack of exercise, unhealthy eating habits and binge eating caused by anxiety are some of the main reasons for this. Stress eating was reported by 70% of Americans as the primary cause of weight gaining. However, WebMD also reports a massive change to unhealthy carbs-based food, and alcohol during lockdown. To avoid the dangerous long-term consequences of weight-gaining, all these must stop now! Here is some advice on how to regain control and go back to healthier eating habits:
- Have a meal schedule. Most weight gaining is caused by irregular and unplanned meals. Starving yourself and then raiding your fridge on the first break is never a smart solution. Instead, try planning ahead and don’t skip the main meals of the day.
- Shop smarter. If anxiety makes you eat more frequently, you can outsmart it by replacing unhealthy snacks with healthier options. Instead of potato chips, try quinoa chips. Instead of full-fat ice cream, try some vegan options. Next, replace crackers with nuts 🙂 Munching on cashews when you feel the impulse to chew something is less damaging than flour crackers. Fill your pantry with healthy snacks and avoid gaining weight when stress pushes you to eat your feelings.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! Physical activity makes you happier, helps weight loss and prevents weight gain, but I’m sure that’s already common knowledge. Sometimes, finding the drive to actually do it is the hardest part. If you are having difficulties starting off, the good news is that you don’t have to do it alone! Join workout challenges on TikTok, Instagram, or YouTube and enjoy being part of something bigger. Also, it can actually be a lot of fun!
Those back problems though!
According to a study released by Chubb, 41% of Americans experience new or worsen pain in their back, shoulders, or wrists since they started working from home.
Many of these problems are caused by an incorrect pose while working. This happens especially if you enjoy working from your bed, couch, or with unsuitable chairs. Using a laptop makes things even worse since you have to look down at the screen, pulling your neck and back muscles. Even those who work from their desks while sitting on ergonomic chairs often make a huge mistake that triggers or worsens back pain: they sit for long hours in the same position.
Whether you are one of the persons already affected, or just want to prevent it from happening, there are a few steps you can take to avoid or alleviate back pain:
- Exercise, exercise, exercise! Lack of exercise creates stiffness in the joints and muscles of your lower back, which increases pressure on the lumbar spine. This is the main cause of lower back pain. Avoiding it is quite easy, with only 15 minutes of exercise per day.
- Use a smartwatch or fitness bracelet to help you remember to change your position. Most of them can be configured to ring every hour and remind you to stand up, or even take a little walk through the house for 3 minutes. Walking increases blood flow and strengthens the muscles that support your spine.
- Use an adjustable stand-up desk. Some stand-up desks can be adjusted in just a few seconds to allow you to work standing up instead of sitting in your chair. For best results, you should work half of each hour on your feet. If that’s too uncomfortable, strive for 15 minutes and gradually increase your standing time.
Mentally healthy as well!
The uncertainty of tomorrow, stress, and anxiety related to the current events are taking a toll on the mental health of remote workers.
According to recent studies, COVID-induced anxiety causes 75% of Americans to struggle at work. Half of the responders have taken at least one day off to deal with mental health issues since the start of the pandemic. Vacation days are important to disconnect and recharge to 97% of them. About 50% report disturbances in their sleeping patterns since working from home and 45% feel their mental health has been affected.
Besides all these, an unhealthy work-life balance and declining physical health could, eventually, lead to burnout. Here are some tips on how to avoid it and keep mentally healthy as well:
- Create a routine. Nothing is worse for mental health than chaos. Do your best to set up a routine and run with it. Wake up at the same time every day and don’t forget to include your meals and short relaxation breaks into your schedule.
- Keep in touch. Communicate with your friends, family, and work family. Having a support system to lean on is crucial these days. Bottling up your feelings is an express ticket to burnout. During working hours keep in touch with your team for work-related, but also personal issues. Use a team communications app to create hubs where you can share positive and funny stuff that keep the spirits up.
- Practice self-care. Get enough sleep, do fun activities and find ways to relax after a hard day of work. Taking care of yourself should be at the top of your agenda.
Look forward to brighter days
All in all, one thing is crucial: never lose hope! Stay positive and dream of better days. Make plans for the future and do activities that keep you motivated.
Find a hobby, get out in nature, start gardening, learn yoga, and avoid a sedentary lifestyle at all costs. Make a conscious decision that you don’t need food or alcohol to get you through the day.
And last, but never least. To stay healthy take it one day at a time and make the best out of it!