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. However, I am offering one-to-one virtual consultations & sessions for new & existing patients, via Zoom video call, which you can access here.

Meanwhile, 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.

Humans are typically more comfortable sitting with our backs to the wall & a view of the door or window. It is believed we have evolved to prefer these settings as we feel that this is the safest place to be. A view of trees, nature or even a view of a scenic picture can reduce your blood pressure & stress. This enables you to focus better.

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 >>

There are a number of exercises you can do to realign your body whilst you wait to resume with your chiropractic treatment. So check our home exercise & stretching videos here. Or if you want to keep moving whilst seated then fidgeting is okay with us or have a look at our chair exercises. If you’re reading this & haven’t moved from your spot in over 20 mins, then finish this sentence AND GET MOVING! (See you soon).

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.

brain wave music

Alpha

Increasing your Alpha wave production helps to improve performance, helping us focus & be more productive. Alpha waves are the most rhythmical, which is said to increase your attention span. Other studies have revealed an increase in creativity. As mentioned by Michael Hutchinson, in his book, Megabrain, other benefits include: a reduced heart rate, blood pressure & sweating. In turn, the Alpha waves are brilliant at promoting relaxation. These waves are best associated with your subconscious, when performing a task without too much concentration or tasks requiring creativity or learning.

Beta

These waves are associated with the conscious (awake) state of the brain. They are connected to the mind being active/working, helping you remain sharp & focused, alongside increasing your critical thinking. Low Beta waves are great for when you’re in a quiet & focused mode. These waves are useful if you’re doing work that requires a lot of concentration, thinking & decision-making.

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.

Use this time to catch up with loved ones over a phone/video call or text…you can’t keep using the ‘I’m too busy to talk’ card much nowadays. Also, it may be useful to engage in breathing techniques or talking to someone about how you feel right now. Just think ‘I’m alive & well. I have a roof over my head. Water whenever I need it. Food in the fridge. People around me or a text away. I’m safe not stuck at home’. Always remember, you’re not alone in this!

Furthermore, a nice, warm bath, yoga or listening to mindfulness apps such as Headspace or Calm are great ways to wind-down. Click here to watch our video on stress.

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?

It is useful to make use of Skype or Zoom to arrange meetings with your colleagues. A study in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour found that teams who met regularly for debriefs produced more innovative solutions to problems, alongside individuals feeling like they’re part of a team.

surinder sandhu at the bedford chiropractic clinic

Feel free to get in touch with us if you ever want to talk or need any advice or info. We also have 30 minute Zoom video call consultations available if you’re experiencing any back, neck or joint pain/injury/discomfort.

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. However, be sure to rest after acquiring new information or take breaks. This enables you to consolidate what you’ve just learnt according to this study.

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! In what was described as the largest sleep study ever, researchers at Canada’s Western University found that oversleeping can dampen your cognitive function similarly to sleep deprivation.

meal prep

Jo Daniels, a clinical psychologist at the University of Bath stated that ‘keeping routines, but with some variation – having different exercises & tasks at different times – is really important’. With the time you save commuting, do something useful such as preparing a meal, going for a walk and so forth. Now is the time to work on a balanced diet with the time to meal prep.

When you work from home, you should stick to your own circadian rhythms where possible. You should structure your workload depending on whether you’re a night owl or day lark. Do the most important work when you feel most energised unless you have to stick to your original working schedule. Every Sunday, set out a to-do list for the week ahead to help you feel organised & as if you have a plan.

9. Book a virtual consultation with us

older woman with back pain sitting whilst working from home

Do you need help with back, neck & joint pain or an injury? Are you looking for some advicetips or information? Would a video call with a chiropractor be useful in diagnosing pain or a injury?

Stop letting pain or an injury distract you from work & arrange a Zoom video call with Surinder Sandhu (Dr of Chiropractic). Follow the instructions HERE to book.

NEW PATIENTS CLICK HERE: Virtual Consultation (30 mins)

Surinder will attempt to identify the cause of your problems & offer:

  • Safe & tailored-to-you techniques to relieve pain
  • Specialised stretches/exercises
  • Nutritional & lifestyle tips/info/plans
  • Recommendations on health products e.g. lumbar supports, orthotics etc. that may help you.

EXISTING PATIENTS – CLICK HERE: Virtual Session (15-30 mins).

We’ll attempt to help with with any pain or injury you’re experiencing & offer anything we can as an alternative to our in-clinic treatment. Surinder Sandhu will answer any questions you may or offer any info/tips/advice that will be useful to you. You’ll also have the opportunity to discuss your existing patient plans, treatments & your progress.

These video calls range from £15-£30. We welcome people of all ages from new-born to the elderly, for any reason & in any condition. We’re here to help!

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 – Dehydration can lead to altered body temperature control, reduced motivation, increased fatigue & make keeping active seem difficult, physically & mentally. Drinking water may activate your metabolism.
  • Positively affects your energy levels & brain function: Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can impair many aspects of the brain’s function. A study of young women showed that fluid loss of 1.36% after exercise impaired both mood & concentration. It also increased their headache frequency. Another similar study in young men showed that fluid loss of 1.59% was detrimental to working memory & increased feelings of anxiety & fatigue.
  • Helps prevent & relieve headaches & migraines. It can also help with hangovers, constipation, urinary tract infections & in aiding weight loss.
  • Can protect your tissues, spinal cord & joints – Water consumption helps lubricate & cushion your joints, spinal cord & tissues. This will help you enjoy physical activity & lessen discomfort caused by conditions such as arthritis. It can also help you excrete waste through perspiration, urination & defecation.

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.