In this guest post, Alex Sal of Dealing With Migraines offers five actionable steps you can take to manage your health while working remotely.
As with everything in business, the act of working remotely has both its advantages and disadvantages. The perks are fairly evident — no commuting time, more time at home with family, more collaboration with national team members — but the disadvantages aren’t as clear.
Some of the more obvious drawbacks include inadvertently working more hours, less in-person communication and brainstorming sessions, and less visibility among executives. But one big downside that is important yet often overlooked is the negative ramifications of working remotely. A lot can happen to a person’s mind and body when a person becomes more stationary.
In this guide, you will learn how you can better manage your health while working remotely to prevent negative impacts.
1. Set Boundaries Between Work and Home
Working remotely can often throw off our idea of what our work schedule actually is. This is because the simple act of opening our laptops and logging into our work email automatically means we’re “at work,” regardless of our typical 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. work schedule. What further complicates things is that some of us eat our meals and do our work at the same desk/table. In other words, the lines between life and work are blurred. The best solution is to place a barrier around our schedules and protect our time.
One of the keys necessary to managing our health while working remotely is to be self-disciplined and set a strict work schedule. A good tip on how to communicate your schedule to your team members in a direct yet productive way is to block off your calendar pre-9:00 a.m. and post-5:00 p.m. This way, they’ll know you don’t start earlier or end later just because you’re working from home. The trick is to know that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This is how you manage your health, avoid burnout, and avoid overdoing it.
2. Try Sitting Less
To manage your health while working remotely, you need to get a grip on your physical activity. By now, everyone knows about the negative effects of sitting down too much. Some credible publications have even called sitting the “new smoking.” One can only imagine how much more sitting a person will do working at home than working at the office. Here are a few reasons why that happens:
- You are commuting from your bedroom to your desk vs. from your home to your office, which often relies on walking to and from public transportation or even your car.
- You are only walking inside your home vs. walking inside and outside your office.
- You are likely not meeting up too much with coworkers for lunch or happy hours after work.
- Larger modern offices typically have standing desks that are available to you.
So, what are some ways to start sitting less while working from home?
- Make time for stretching
- Make a makeshift standing desk
- Do yoga during your lunch breaks (and, of course, remember to actually take your lunch breaks)
- Take walking meetings
- Take a break and go for a walk outside
- Set an alarm every 30 minutes to stand up and walk around your home
Meditation is one of the most productive and simultaneously least time-consuming practices one can ever take up. While live meditation practices are highly beneficial, there are many ways to effectively meditate from your own couch via recorded videos. Since 2012, the amount of people who practice meditation has nearly tripled.
Luckily, as more people understand the health benefits of meditation and as technology continues to create more convenient ways of meditating, there are enough ways for everyone to start this positive habit. Meditating helps with countless issues, such as insomnia, concentration, anxiety, stress, low energy, and more. Numerous apps from Spotify to Headspace and Calm have great selections of guided meditations (many at no cost!).
4. Schedule Doctor Appointments in Advance
Scheduling doctor appointments, whether we’re feeling sick or not, can often feel tedious or time-consuming. However, nothing is worse than waiting too long and having narrow windows of availability, or worse, having to wait in fear for our health. Scheduling appointments in advance eliminates all of these fears and unnecessary stressors, especially when in-person appointments are more limited due to COVID precautions.
All individuals should be making regular appointments with health professionals specific to their age or any high-risk factors. Whether it be your primary care physician, dentist, eye doctor, dermatologist or more — taking a proactive approach to your health will always be more empowering than a reactive one.
For example, data suggests that to help detect any symptoms of breast cancer, women should begin receiving yearly mammogram screenings from ages 40 to 50, and sometimes as early as 25 years old, depending on risk factors. Screenings such as these can be so easy to put off. That’s why scheduling such appointments in advance makes the process of self-care more organized, effective, and less stressful.
5. Make Sure to Use Your Vacation Time
Believe it or not, a major part of managing your health while working remotely is organizing your vacation time. One of the risks of working from home is that there can be less of a drive to take time off. How do you get away from “the office” when your office is your home? On top of that, there can be a lot of guilt or fear involved. Even though working from home or working remotely is no walk in the park, there are clear benefits in comparison to working in an office. Because of these privileges, it’s easy to feel bad about taking an official vacation when you already feel so grateful for the flexibility you have.
Instead of getting caught in negative thinking, remember the many positive effects of taking a vacation. For example, many of us who work from home are multi-tasking, managing a household and children (who are also working remotely). If you fit into this box, taking time off is even more important so that you can get a break from all the jobs in your home.
Generally speaking, a break is most important for our overall health. A recent study by the WHO (World Health Organization) found that working 55 hours or more per week was “associated with a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease” in comparison to a 35-40 hour workweek. Not only is taking a vacation physically beneficial for everyone, but it also leads to more productivity, focus, and mindfulness at work. In this way, vacations positively impact your life, helping you to better manage your health while working remotely.
This guide is meant to inspire you to take more time and focus on managing your health and self-care, no matter if you are working from home or an office (or both). Advocating for yourself, regardless of the industry and position, is one of the best actions you can take to ensure a healthier, happier, and more productive life and career.
Alex Sal is a startup entrepreneur, journalist, and career specialist. He is also an advisor to Dealingwithmigraines.com, an online migraine resource site.
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