Whether you’re working a traditional 9-to-5 job or setting your own hours, working from home can be both a blessing and a curse. Having no commute, dress code, or noisy coworkers are big pluses, but working from home can make it harder to achieve a healthy work/life balance and can be very isolating.
Follow these wellness tips to keep a happy, productive, and healthy work-from-home routine.
Stick to a routine that works for you
As tempting as it may be to just work whenever the inspiration hits, as human beings, we thrive when we have a routine. Fortunately, when you’re at home, you have a little more control over what that routine looks like.
Some choose to match the office routine they’ve followed for years as much as possible. Others prefer to mix it up a little, maybe getting a few hours of work in before hitting the gym or checking out for an hour or two in the afternoons to run errands or pick kids up from school. However you choose to structure your routine, be as consistent with your working hours as possible.
Take frequent breaks
Regular breaks should be a part of any working routine. Breaks allow us to briefly recharge, relax, and refocus. At times you may feel like you’re too busy to step away for even a few minutes, but most people find that they’re actually more productive and less stressed when they step away from their desks periodically.
So take a quick walk, do some stretches, grab a snack, sit outside in the sunshine—at least a few times a day. Breaks may feel like a luxury (and they certainly can be luxurious!), but they are actually a necessity if you want to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work life.
Take time off
Routines are great, breaks are great, but sometimes we need to completely disengage for a while and do something totally different. Despite the obvious benefits of taking time off, almost half of Americans fail to use all of their time off each year. Those who don’t have paid-time-off benefits fare even worse.
But just like taking breaks can help you be more productive, taking time off actually makes you a better employee—and of course benefits your non-work life, as well. Even if the task of planning a vacation seems daunting, even if you have to work extra beforehand, even if you don’t have the budget to do something “exciting”—schedule time off at least a few times a year so your body and mind can get the rest it needs.
Take care to not let work follow you around once you’re off the clock, too. Working while on vacation negates a lot of the benefits you gain by taking time off.
Prepare healthy snacks
It’s hard to get through the day without snacks. And when you have easy access to your own fridge and microwave, it’s never been easier to find something to munch on.
Which creates its own problems. Over the past few years, many have experienced what people have informally dubbed the “Covid 19,” aka, weight gained after they started spending more time at home. If you do most of your work from home, it will be your responsibility to stock up on easy, healthy snacks. If you’re in a rut and need new ideas, try one of these low-calorie snack ideas.
Keep a water bottle with you while you’re working. If you’re refilling it a couple times a day, you should be getting enough water to stay hydrated.
If you start to get bored with water, try mixing in a sugar-free flavor powder. Avoid sugary drinks as much as possible.
Keep your workspace clean and comfortable
Whatever your workspace looks like, keep it clean and clutter-free. A clean and tidy desk means you won’t be wasting time every day trying to find things. Plus, a space free from clutter can feel like a sigh of relief—simply having a clean space to work is a stress reliever in and of itself.
Make your workspace inviting and comfortable, too. First and foremost, make sure you have a good chair and that your keyboard and computer monitors are appropriately situated so you’re not hunched over a screen all day. If your space has a window, open the blinds so you can enjoy the natural sunlight. You might also consider adding a few house plants, pictures of your loved ones, or art that inspires you. One of the best things about working from home is that you don’t have to sit in the same dull, boring surroundings every day. You can switch up your surroundings whenever you want—take advantage of that benefit!
Connect with others
Working from home likely means you won’t be interacting with colleagues as much. Work is one of the best settings for adults to form and maintain friendships, but if you do your work at home you’ll need to find other ways to keep active social connections in your life.
This goes beyond simply turning on video for Zoom meetings. Meet up with your colleagues face-to-face occasionally. Go out to lunch with people who live near you. Get to know your kids’ friends’ parents. Join a sports league or club in your area. Working from home gives you the opportunity to build relationships with people outside your field of work, which can be a nice boon to your social health.
Unplug after hours
When your home is also your workplace, it can be difficult to separate the two. This means it’s even more important than ever to unplug from work when the work day is over (whatever time that is for you). Resist the temptation to check email after dinner or get a jump on a project for the next day after the kids are in bed. Focus on your family, hobbies, and other obligations when you’re not “at work.” If you unplug right, you’ll be all the more refreshed the next day when it is time to get back into work mode.
Working from home is a wonderful convenience for those whose jobs allow it. However, comforts and conveniences of home mean you’ll need to establish different guidelines to make it work long term. By following these wellness tips, you’ll be able to make the most of working from home without letting it encroach on your family time, health, and social life.