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How to stay well whilst working from home

Still WFH? Follow our top tips to stay healthy through the last of the winter days.

The first Monday of February has been dubbed ‘National Sickie Day’ – it is the day which, across the country, the highest number of workers call in sick. With persistent cold weather, lingering dark days and yet another bug... it is easy to understand why.

This year, many of us are likely still working from the comfort of our homes. But this should not undermine time away from our work, should we need it. 

To get you through the last of the winter days, and help you look after your wellbeing whilst (still) WFH, we have put together some of our top tips. So, who knows, perhaps you won’t need that sickie after all.

Spring-clean your environment.

At one point, our new home-offices were looking fresh and inviting, but after the many months of home-working, it has been easy for clutter to build up. What better time than now for a spring clean? Take some time out to declutter, water your desk-plant, and take away those used mugs… It will give you (and your poor plant!) a new lease of life.

And, if you are likely to continue WFH once restrictions are lifted, it may be worth investing in a good quality chair and desk, to prevent long-term problems to your muscles, joints and bones. Ergonomic chairs are designed to support your body so that you can work efficiently without a hint of bad posture. Find some more guidance here.

Research says only 58% of people were found to have an office-chair during the pandemic (albeit not good ones) [1]. So this February, why not update your chair and make your workday a little comfier and healthier?

Prepare healthy snacks.

One huge bonus of WFH is that we are… closer to the snack cupboards! Snacks are a good way to stay energised throughout the day and avoid a low-blood sugar slump…. But there are healthier options. 

For example, instead of reaching for the chocolate and crisps simply because they are there, take 5 mins out to pre-prepare some vegetable batons and enjoy them with a low-fat dip such as tzatziki – you will get a boost of nutrients to help you stay energised. 

Or, if you are lacking in time, always ensure your fruit bowl is stocked up with new and exciting choices. You don’t always need to go for the standard apples and pears, pick-up guava, or a passionfruit, or pineapple and give yourself a treat to look forward to (it’s the little things…). You could even make a pina colada-inspired smoothie - and imagine you are on that tropical holiday you had to miss out on... Just don’t drift off, you still have work to do. 

Prioritise socialisation. 

Although technology has helped us to stay connected and be productive, video calls are no replacement for a spontaneous laugh and chinwag with Karen on the desk-next-door. 

The consequence is that it is easy to feel isolated right now, and you are not alone. Research has found that almost half (46%) of UK workers have experienced loneliness while working from home, which negatively affected our enjoyment of work [2].

If you are feeling this way, a few simple pro-active activities can be of benefit. For example, you could schedule that usual 11am coffee break virtually and set one rule: no work chat. Or even simply use your lunchbreaks to check-in with the family and friends who you can’t see at the moment, they’re probably longing for a good catch-up too. 

Tackle stress.

One year ago, the thought of working from home was a dream-come-true for many. We no longer have the lengthy commute with a side serving of traffic or road rage... We no longer have to plan our office-attire and meal prep... But this doesn’t mean WFH is stress-free.

In fact, many find WFH stressful. Many find they are now working longer hours than they usually would and it has been found that many feel pressure to ‘prove’ they are working (also known as ‘digital presenteeism’) [3]. Both of these factors can increase stress levels and increase the risk of burn-out. 

To manage your stress there are some simple things you can do to take control. For example, take 10 minutes out every morning to set daily goals, once you have met them,  you can feel accomplished. Simply stay mindful of your workload, and only take on as much as is appropriate – are you taking on more than you usually would? 

And if you are struggling with stress levels, don’t hesitate to reach out to a colleague; they may have exactly the support you need. Mind offers a Working from home action plan to make a difficult conversation easier to initiate. 

Keep moving.

We know that physical movement is good for our physical and mental health, but with the sofa and Netflix so close to hand, it can be challenging to find the motivation. Also, most of us are busy, so it is easy for physical exercise to get pushed down our priority list. 

The trick is to make your physical activity work for you, fit in your daily life and importantly - be enjoyable (as much as is possible anyway!).

Desk yoga is a concept which has been gaining interest recently. It allows you to stretch, move your body and practise mindfulness – without leaving your work space! Got a spare few spare minutes? Follow a simple YouTube desk yoga tutorial. Aim to incorporate this 3 or 4 times throughout your workday – you’ll be surprised by how quickly you feel the benefits.

If you are lucky enough to have a height-adjustable desk, schedule in some standing time. Compared to sitting all day, alternating sitting and standing every 30 minutes can burn around 8% more calories throughout your work day [4]. Doing so may even reduce your feelings of sleepiness and fatigue, and could therefore boost your productivity! [3]. 

The NHS now have 10-minute home workouts available online, which we are sure everybody has got time for on their lunch break. 

Set boundaries.

WFH means the line separating worktime and downtime can easily be blurred. Also, with the ability to ‘log-in’ whenever and wherever it is easy to feel as though you should be available 24/7.

If you haven’t yet, it is important to set both physical and mental work-life boundaries.

For example, use your lunch break to fully disconnect. We mean, log-out of your laptop, leave your phone on the side, even ask Alexa to give it a rest if you have to...

Instead, give your brain the 30 minutes of peace it is longing for, with an outdoorsy walk or a chapter of your book. Not only will this provide a well-needed wellbeing boost, you will come back to your desk with a new lease of energy and motivation.

Want to find out how WFH is affecting your inner body health? Give your body a full health MOT with our Mind, Body Fuel Blood Test, which aims to optimise your energy, mood and long-term health. Or you could try our Health and Lifestyle Blood Test to check essential areas of your body health, such as your liver, kidney and heart health. 

From Monday 1st February, if you spend £50 - £100, you receive 10% off, if you spend £100 - 150 you get 20% off, and if you spend £150 or more, you get 25% off! Be quick, offer ends midnight 14th February.


References

[1] Davis, K.G., Kotowski, S.E., Daniel, D., Gerding, T., Naylor, J. and Syck, M., 2020. The home office: Ergonomic lessons from the “new normal”. Ergonomics in Design28(4), pp.4-10.

[2]  https://www.totaljobs.com/advice/lockdown-loneliness-the-collapse-of-social-life-at-work

[3] Kowalsky, R.J., Perdomo, S.J., Taormina, J.M., Kline, C.E., Hergenroeder, A.L., Balzer, J.R., Jakicic, J.M. and Gibbs, B.B., 2018. Effect of using a sit-stand desk on ratings of discomfort, fatigue, and sleepiness across a simulated workday in overweight and obese adults. Journal of Physical Activity and Health15(10), pp.788-794.

[4] Gibbs, B.B., Kowalsky, R.J., Perdomo, S.J., Grier, M. and Jakicic, J.M., 2017. Energy expenditure of deskwork when sitting, standing or alternating positions. Occupational Medicine67(2), pp.121-127.