Work From Home – Physical & mental challenges

working from home, graphs everywhere & cat on the floor

Millions globally are having to work from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, with differing challenges to face. One of those challenges may be transitioning from your office to home, whilst maintaining physical & mental health. Unfortunately, many chiropractors like myself, across the UK have had to close clinics, in order to comply with social distancing rules.

Anyway, here are my top 10 ways to work from home successfully, whilst keeping your health & wellness in mind.

1. Create Boundaries

desk at window- work from home

It may be tempting to work in the comfort of your bed, or just have your laptop perched on your lap whilst flopped on the sofa. However, it is best you physically separate your working space from your living space. Preferably, this involves an environment away from TVs, game consoles etc., opting for a quiet workspace. Particularly when you work from home, even the shortest distraction can kill your productivity & disable you from distinguishing between work & ‘chill’ time. Research at the Michigan State University found that a 3-second interruption can double the number of mistakes you make in your work due to distractions. This also means separating yourself from social media on your phone during these hours where possible.

Close up of heads of young people s heads. They are standing near a gray wall with glowing yellow light bulbs drawn on it. A diverse business team. Toned image

Now I may seem to be contradicting myself here, but also stepping away from tasks every now & then, is a good idea. Get away from the laptop for a few minutes, but keep a pad & pen with you. Research at the Indiana University found that longhand writing improves creativity & problem solving. However, journaling is said to be an effective way to stretch your attention span…It also gets you MOVING!

2. Sitting is the new smoking! Get moving!

man standing at desk working from home

A lot of research shows the major health risks of sitting for too long. So whether you’re at work or home, I strongly urge you to do anything you can to reduce your time sitting (I’m even stood up at my home desk whilst typing this sentence!). Maybe consider:

  • Opting for a standing desk
  • Take breaks every 20 minutes (go for a walk, stretch etc.)
  • Exercise for at least an hour daily
  • Frequently stretch & try yoga

in 2019, the Journal of Human Sport & Exercise reported on a 12 week exercise programme. This was conducted in a Greek prison (I’m not saying we’re locked in our homes like prisoners but we are confined to the home A LOT more). This study showed that those prisoners who participated in the programme felt a greater sense of self-esteem & quality of life, compared to those who didn’t.

Research at the University of Georgia found that even low-intensity exercise can boost your energy levels & mentally prepare you to work. Alongside the health benefits of keeping active, exercise can provide you with a regular dose of serotonin. We recommend you get involved in cardio, weights, HIIT workouts & yoga.

Check out more exercise vids here >>

3. Hello again, how’s your posture doing?

Now there is no perfect seated posture for 8 hours a day…I prefer you didn’t sit for that long. Good seated posture is important to avoid aches & pains. When you’re hunched forward, it can result in the brain in thinking it is in a stressful situation. However, when you are alternating between sitting & standing, there are some tips that can help your posture whilst sitting.

right and wrong way to sit at the desk

Firstly, opt for a comfortable desk chair that enables you to adjust the height of the seat, the back-rest & has an adjustable headrest/arm-rest. Ensure you sit comfortably in your chair, where your hips are in a neutral position, thighs horizontal, with your knees no higher than your hips & not extended over your ankles. Your feet should be flat on the floor. Your bottom should be against the back of the seat & your shoulder blades against the backrest of the chair. Make sure your arms are flat & your elbow are level with your desk. Your laptop/pc should be at your eye-level to prevent tech-neck & you may want to invest in lumbar supports & laptop/book stands. Read more on tech-neck here.

Even whilst you’re netflix-ing, try not to slump or sit too long whilst binge-watching. Make use of cushions for support.

4. Expose yourself to ‘brainwave music’

brain waves

Brain waves are patterns of electrical activity occurring in the brain. These are crucial in all aspects of brain function, including thoughts, emotions & behaviours. As brain activity can be influenced & altered through neurofeedback, desirable activity can be increased & manipulated. There are 5 main forms of brain waves, such as:

However, we recommend producing Alpha & Beta waves when you work from home or studying, depending on the tasks you are performing.

You can access brainwave music on YouTube or there are playlists on Spotify.

5. Protect your mental health

woman painting in the garden

As if seeing the rising death rates on the news, being on lock-down & a lethal pandemic on the loose isn’t enough to trigger anxiety & depression, remote workers can be prone to bouts of poor mental health. A study found that when you work from home, you are more likely to experience high stress levels compared to office workers: emails are misinterpreted, work bleeds into family life & remote workers often clock more hours.

As well as switching off your laptop at the end of the day, make sure you engage in pleasurable activities too, to elevate your mood. If you feel that you’re becoming more anxious or stressed, then switch to exercise, reading, yoga, listening to podcasts, painting/drawing etc.

6. Combat Loneliness

woman at her desk video calling colleagues whilst working from home

Remember: WE ARE SOCIAL ANIMALS! You may not realise it, but a big part of going to work is that we love being around familiar faces. Petting your pets & face-timing family & friends are no-brainers, but maybe the interaction you have with your work-colleagues daily, is a huge reason you may feel lonely. We spend a lot of time interacting at work (don’t tell your boss). That type of interaction may be what we miss when we’re self-isolating. So why not arrange a meeting with work colleagues around the time you’d go for a break?

7. Learn something new

learning a new language

Work may actually have slowed down for you during this pandemic – so take this as an open opportunity to learn something new. You may decide to take up an online course to further your skills/knowledge in your existing work or something that interests you. Maybe you want to learn a new language, skill or do something to keep you cognitively active. It has been proven that lifelong learning improves happiness & your memory.

8. Structure your day like normal

you snooze you lose. work from home & stick to routine

Routine & structure are crucial to making the quarantine period tolerable. The start of that routine is SLEEP! Okay, you know to aim for about 8 hours of sleep a day (also there are some brain wave music to help you sleep better), but you should make the snooze button your enemy! Still try to eat, sleep, go for a walk, relax etc. at the same times you usually would if you were at work.

10. Stay hydrated

man work from home. drinking water

You should always keep a glass or a bottle on your desk, which will act as triggers to remind you to keep on drinking water. You may not need 8 glasses a day, but if you can then why not? Staying hydrated is beneficial as it:

  • Helps maximise physical performance
  • Positively affects your energy levels & brain function:
  • Can protect your tissues, spinal cord & joints

Alternatively, check out this incredibly healthy drink:

Check out more vids here >>

Ready to work from home successfully?

So go set up your workspace with your posture in mind. Be mindful of your posture. Get into your work attire & grab some water. Set up some Zoom calls with your work colleagues. Stick on some brainwave music & get on with your routine. With your spare time, remember to enjoy yourself, learn something new & make time for your friends & family. If you’re experiencing any pain/discomfort or injury then book a virtual consultation/session with us here. Ensure you follow the Government’s guidelines & stay safe & well.