Should you return to the office or not? That is the question many are facing, more employers are reevaluating office arrangements. Large-scale companies have pushed back their return to office plans and quite a few organizations are delaying their re-openings.
• With all this ambiguity and hesitation, many us are refining our home workspaces. This can blur the lines between home, career, life and family. And, while working from home can be advantageous for many people, it can also create unique mental and physical health challenges, particularly for those who end up spending more time sitting, streaming and of course snacking :)
• Fortunately, there are ways you can protect your mental and physical health while working from home—it just takes a little extra planning, communication and discipline.
• Creating a healthy work-from-home approach is not only about designing a productive and positive environment that supports your work. It’s also about finding ways to deal with the inevitable stress that comes with this new way of working.
• Whether you’ve been working from home since March 2020 and will continue for the foreseeable future, or you’re in a hybrid home/office situation, consider using these tips to help prevent some of the stress that comes with always being just steps away from your workspace.
• Create a schedule
The benefit of working in an office is the physical difference between work and home. It’s also about socialization with colleagues. Putting a schedule in place that has clear start and stop times, includes breaks for food, exercise and connection can help you avoid burnout and feeling isolated.
• Establish boundaries
and communicate them. With a schedule comes the inevitable task of establishing boundaries with coworkers, family and others who demand your time and attention. Keep in mind, however, that boundaries without communication can lead to misunderstandings. Be sure to communicate with the important people in your life what your work and life boundaries are. Also how and when you will be available for them.
• Take wellness breaks.
Often overlooked in a work-at-home arrangement is physical and mental wellness. For many, the routine is wake up, caffeinate, work, dinner, sleep, repeat. Taking wellness breaks throughout the day, however, is as important as any meeting or other obligation. Schedule time for fresh air, movement and hydration. Once per hour, step away from your devices and do something for yourself. Walk the dog, stretch, refill your water bottle, meditate, etc. These breaks from work can help revive your energy, focus and creativity.
Regardless of your work situation, stress inevitably crops up. Here are three strategies that can help you cope with and conquer stress and ultimately protect your mind and body.
• Breathing exercises
like box breathing can help increase feelings of calm, reduce stress and improve concentration. Performed regularly, deep breathing may also help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
• Get up and get moving.
It doesn’t have to be an hour-long cardio session. Simple, low-impact options that don’t require equipment or even a change of clothing include walking outdoors, gentle yoga flow or simply dance around for a few minutes. *Check out the five-minute mood-boosting workout below.
• Plan to Counter Stress Eating,
it may come on at unexpected times. Stress-eating is a very real thing, especially during a pandemic. When you want to stress eat, nourish your mind and your body by choosing a soothing meditation followed by a calming food or beverage. A quick 5 minute meditation that is uplifting and empowering followed by a cup of chamomile or mint tea may help to reduce stress and improve your mood. Avoid alcohol and ultra-processed foods that may satisfy a craving but will leave you feeling sapped of energy and even more stressed in the end.
• Protect your Mental Health.
Most experts believe that working from home will continue to be common practice for the foreseeable future. Learn how to manage your schedule, maintain your health and wellness routines, and deal with the stress that’s sure to come. It will not only protect your mental and physical health but also make you a better partner, parent, coworker and leader.
5-minute Mood-Booster Workout
• No equipment needed. Be sure to wear comfortable clothes that can move with you.
• 1-minute cardio warm-up: Dance, jumping jacks, climb the stairs a few times, etc.
• 30-seconds of each exercise:
• Body-weight squats toes straight ahead, hips down and back as if you are going to sit back towards an imaginary chair.
• Push-ups (modify by placing your hands against the wall or with your hands on the counter or a sturdy table or desk. Abs in, moving in a plank position. shoulders away from your ears)
• Alternating reverse lunges (stepping to the back and dropping down, you choose how low)
• Triceps dips on a step or chair (make sure the chair is secure)
• Sumo squats (wide legs, toes out a bit)
• Plank *30 seconds, 40 seconds, 60 seconds. Whatever you have got. Or try a couple shorter planks if you are just starting out. Modify by dropping the knees down to the floor.
• Bridge Pose on the floor. Lengthen your tailbone towards your knees, your knees towards the wall in front of you.
• 1-minute cool-down with stretching or a few yoga poses
Create a Plan and Stick with it.
• Classes and Personal Trainers are there for a reason, they help you stay accountable. Check out different online classes, try a new studio and/or gym, especially if you are always at home. It can be a lovely experience just getting away for an hour or even just 30-45 minutes.
The comradery and boost of a few other people can be amazing.