With the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way we live, many of us continue to work from home. The initial excitement of working in pajama bottoms and having lunch in the kitchen has worn off by now, and the challenges of remote working are coming to light. Often, this occurs in the form of shortened attention spans, boredom, joint aches and weight gain.
Here are a few tips to help you remain healthy and focused while working from home:
1. Find a good workspace. This may mean removing yourself from distractions, such as pets, children or spouses. Outfit your workspace with essentials, such as a desk lamp, extension cord, freestanding mouse and Bluetooth-enabled headphones. If your work is mostly on a computer or screen, review the basics of ergonomic support. Understand the proper positioning between your neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists, and make sure you have the necessary tools to avoid joint and muscle aches. This may require raising or lowering your chair or desk to a more appropriate height. Make sure your seat back provides support and that your feet touch the ground. You might consider a standing desk.
2. Blink. Studies show that staring at screens tends to dry out your eyes. Make sure to have lubricating eye drops or take the time to consciously blink every few minutes. Use anti-glare filter devices for your screen. To avoid squinting, make sure to wear reading glasses, if needed.
3. Walk away from your computer. This is to avoid both eyestrain and blood clots associated with sitting for prolonged periods of time. Use this time to engage in exercise or to stretch and move your body. There are several websites where you can learn a simple 5- or 10-minute stretching routine to do during these breaks.
4. Schedule breaks. With the kitchen so close for many of us working from home, snacking has become easier than at the office, but it may lead to unwanted weight gain. Identify one or two times each day when you allow yourself to visit your fridge. If you find yourself snacking with abandon and gaining weight, try writing down your calorie intake or using e a phone app to monitor your calorie consumption. Set a timer to keep breaks to an appropriate length. And when eating lunch or snacks, be sure to step away from your computer and enjoy your food away from your desk. Better yet, use your break time to walk and connect via phone with a colleague or friend. It will feel a little like the water cooler chats that used to take place in the office.
5. Hydrate. Keep a water bottle close to you, just as you would in the office. And don’t overdo the caffeine. If your home garden is flourishing, snip a few mint leaves or other herbs to put in your water for a late summer or early fall treat.
6. Develop a transition routine. Charles Darwin famously walked a gravel path twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening, which he called his thinking path. Since many of us have said goodbye to our commutes during this pandemic, we may have difficulty transitioning from home to work, since they’re in the same place. Enter the transition routine. Try a version of Darwin’s walk, or use a form of meditation by spending a few minutes in gentle reflection or prayer. Whatever works for you, make it a habit by practicing it daily in place of your commute time. It’s an effective way to switch gears from home to work and vice versa.
It’s not too late to make these changes, given that many of us are still working from home for the forseeable future. Starting these healthy habits now will allow you to reap the benefits for the long term.
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6 Tips for Taking Care of Yourself While Working From Home originally appeared on usnews.com