As many people join the work-from-home revolution due to COVID-19, it is important to remember a few key items to help navigate this new environment. At WebDevStudios (WDS), we are very familiar with remote work since this is our norm; and we love to share what we have learned to help others. Making sure to focus on your physical, as well as mental well-being, is top of the list. Being remote can lead to feelings of isolation and laziness. So, taking time out of your day to do things for yourself is very necessary. Let’s go over some things you can do for staying healthy while working from home (WFH).
It is paramount that people remember to do the small things, like drinking water and going to the bathroom. It may seem silly, but I remember being a first-time remote worker. I would get so involved in my work (or worried that people wouldn’t believe I was actually doing anything) that it would be 1 p.m. when I realized all I had was coffee and I hadn’t gotten up to use the bathroom since I woke up.
Working that way can leave you feeling drained very fast and lead to burnout. As part of your staying healthy while working from home routine, I recommend that you get up and stretch your legs every hour. Taking short breaks like that boosts your productivity, as well as your mental well-being. Take your dog for a walk or just go for a 10-minute stroll, yourself, to clear your mind and get those creative juices flowing. (Plus, Vitamin D helps with concentration and prevents illness.)
Also, consider taking a power nap. A quick 10-minute snooze can help stabilize emotions, increase energy, and restore brain functionality. Set a timer to remind yourself to do these things so you don’t get lost in your work and forget to take care of you. Remember, it’s okay to switch your laundry to the dryer or wash your lunch dishes while you are working from home. One of the best parts about WFH is taking all those minutes that you stare at your computer screen thinking about what needs to be done and turning them into productive moments. When my mind is blocked, I get up and fluff the pillows on the couch to allow my brain time to recenter.
Humans need to eat to live. Start your day off with breakfast, even if it’s just something small. Having breakfast will give you energy for the first part of your day, light that brain up to tackle those hard problems, and aid you in your quest for staying healthy while working from home.
Take snack breaks during your workday. Try to make some healthy snacks, like sliced apples or carrots and hummus. Eating healthy will keep your immune system in fighting shape, which is more important now than ever.
Don’t forget that lunch break! I am awful at this. I eat lunch in front of the computer while still working most days. Don’t be like me. Take time for yourself to enjoy that fish you would never be able to bring into the office (because if you microwave fish in the office break room you will be scolded).
Use your break to relax and refocus for your afternoon tasks. Experiment with food during this time. Try that new recipe for dinner that you’ve always wanted to make but never had the time or energy to prepare. Pro top: make leftovers so you can eat your masterpiece again. By not commuting, you save time. So, take advantage and prepare that five-star meal at home since you can’t go out to eat right now.
Move that body
With your commute changing from anything it was before into walking to another room, you are losing your usual travel activity (even if it was small). So, you should take time to squeeze something in.
At WDS, we have a monthly newsletter sent to all employees where I include tips on easy, quick workouts or stretches you can do. Try doing some desk push-ups or seated leg lifts. Stretch your wrists and arms every couple of hours. Alternate mouse sides on your desk (this one works your mind muscles just as much as your hands). Turn that meeting phone call into a walking meeting. Start a competition with your team and see who can get the most steps in a week; push each other to succeed. When headed to the bathroom, do some lunges on the way. Have fun with it and keep it entertaining. Heck, dance to the bathroom if you want. No one is watching you!
Keep the chat alive
Schedule some “water cooler” chats with coworkers to check in on each other. We have monthly calls where groups of five to six people from our team meet for 30 minutes to talk about anything and everything not work related. Send out some icebreaker questions ahead of time to spark the conversation. You know you are wondering if extraterrestrials landed on earth. Would Bob go if they offered to take him to their motherland? Ask him and start a fun conversation.
Just because you are not in the same physical space with your coworkers doesn’t mean you have to lose connection. Even having just one person to check in with every day is grounding. If you have an office bestie, continue those chats you would have if you were at the office. Start a channel in your online communication platform for people to share the shows they are watching. Ours is very lively with Tiger King memes, and yes, I think Carol Baskins did it! Start a memes-only channel and let the laughs ensue (obviously, only share safe-for-work memes).
You are at home. Turn that radio on for the sweet sound. Crank it up! When else will you be able to literally have a jam out session with music blaring than now? Listen to whatever inspires you to do great things. Listening to music has been proven to decrease stress and boost creativity and efficiency.
Have a favorite podcast you never have time to listen to at the office because people always come over and interrupt you? Turn that on and learn something new while getting that TPS report done.
You are not alone
No matter what, remember there are lots of people in the same boat as you right now—all working toward staying healthy while working from home. It’s normal to be among those who are not used to working from home and unsure of what is acceptable during these times. Use your best judgment. Your company would not have hired you if they didn’t trust that you are the best person for the job. If you are struggling, reach out to your manager or someone you trust at your company and let them know. Open communication is the key to remote work. It allows you to stay connected with teammates and to hold each other accountable. You got this!
Who knows? Maybe this opportunity will spark a thirst in you for the remote life. For me, working remotely has been one of the best transitions from an in-office job. I have less stress, get to spend the day with my dog and cat, and have more control over my life. I know it’s not for everyone, but I really hope you give it a fair shake. Remote work has the chance to help the people and environment around you, and if you need more help, take a look at this collection of remote work blog posts WDS created just for you.