More and more people are working remotely. The Internet has connected people in a way that many never would have imagined possible, and that connectivity has created a number of jobs that allow people to work from the comfort of their own homes. Sleeping a few footsteps way from your workspace has plenty of advantages, but there are also drawbacks to working from home.
Health and fitness is one of the big concerns for people who work remotely. This applies to both mental health and physical health. The lack of proper sleep, lack of exercise, unhealthy diet, and in some cases lack of human contact that can come with working from home can take a toll on a person’s wellness.
However there are ways that you can stay healthy while working from home. When trying to find ways to stay fit while working remotely, it’s important not to fall into bad habits.
Make the distinction between work life and home life. While work and home might be the same place physically, you have to establish boundaries between the two.
Set work hours. Having the opportunity to work 24 hours a day doesn’t mean that you should actually work 24 hours a day. Don’t roll out of bed and start working, only to stop when it’s time to go to sleep. If you want to clock 8 hours in a day, establish a time that you aim to start working and a time that you aim to stop. Remote work gives you freedom to choose your own hours, so you should take advantage of that freedom, but it’s also important not to work every waking moment.
Consider this: when an office worker leaves their physical office for the day, they’re done checking emails. It might be tempting to do a quick scan of your inbox after you’ve stopped working, but that can lead to 10-12 hour work days and 60+ hour work weeks. Henry Ford aimed to put a stop to that nearly 90 years ago.
Make the most of your ability to set your own hours. Some people are more productive during the day, while others excel in the afternoon or the evening. Some people get in a groove and can knock out 5 hours of work at a time, while others need to take a break every couple of hours. Figure out when you’re at your best and tailor your work schedule around that. This can help you avoid unnecessary stress.
Remote work also lets you take extended breaks that people who work a normal 9-to-5 can’t enjoy. If you need a couple hours in the middle of the day to go for a bike ride, a walk, or to get some exercise, take it. Sure, that might mean working a little later into the evening, but that might be a fair tradeoff.
Make a point to exercise. When working remotely, you have to think about your health. This doesn’t mean dwell on your unhealthy habits or lament about your lack of exercise. Make a point to be healthy. Unless you live in a sprawling manor or Buckingham Palace, you’re not getting much exercise walking between your bedroom, your office, and your refrigerator. Take time out of your day, either before you start or after you finish working, to get some exercise.
Take small breaks throughout the day to get up and walk around or do some stretches. It’s recommended by the Department of Health and Human Services that you get a bare minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day. If nothing else, take an extended lunch break and go for a walk. That 30 minutes out of your work day is well worth it for your physical fitness.
Watch what you eat. Many people who work remotely find that they develop bad eating habits. Whether you grow a sweet tooth, a passion for frozen pizzas, or you just find yourself grazing all day, it’s not hard to fall into bad eating habits with an ever-present fridge looming in the corner of your kitchen.
The solution is fairly simple. Don’t stock things that you don’t want to eat, and practice self restraint. Instead of Oreos and Ding Dongs, fill your fridge with fruits and vegetables. Instead of eating all day long, eat three actual meals, and maybe a light mid-morning or afternoon snack.
Some people find that they end up drinking more alcohol while working remotely. Sure, beer is delicious, but you wouldn’t drink at an office, so you shouldn’t drink at your home office. Stick to water or tea, and limited amounts of coffee.
Don’t be lonely. If you’re an extrovert and you work at home, you most likely find yourself starved for human interaction. Remote work doesn’t provide the fun and excitement of office drama and witty workplace banter that many people relish. There are a few things you can do about loneliness from working at home.
A shared workspace is fine for simply being around people, but since everyone is working on different projects, it’s not quite the same as working in actual office. Working at a coffee shop is kind of the same situation, except you might get icy glares with your hot coffee if you overstay your welcome.
The solution to remote work loneliness requires you to throw away the idea that your work has to bring your social interaction. Join a book club, sign up for a kickball team, go to events, plan cookouts and cocktail parties with friends, take a painting class, buy a climbing gym membership, do something that lets you interact with people. Staying fit while working from home can seem difficult, but it’s easier than you might think. The key is making your fitness and health a priority. Work is important, but so is your health.