Has working from home been the best thing ever, or has it become a health challenge?
For many office workers, the dream has been to work from home. Now that it’s a reality, how’s it going in real life?
For decades, we’ve worked in the corporate world and have worked from home, in an office, and on the road with 50% of our time traveling. This is where discipline becomes an integral part of staying healthy while working from the comfort of your own home.
The transition time was non-existent, leaving many people working from their kitchen table and ordering food online for delivery or drive-by pickup. Businesses worked to keep running as seamlessly as possible, and for workers with kids, there was the addition of education and entertainment with limited options for assistance or resources.
We are several months into working from home, with many ‘businesses re-evaluating the need for large office locations and the length of time people will remain working from home extending. It’s time to get serious about creating a lifestyle and routine that will boost your immunity, provide space for mental and emotional wellbeing, and keep you moving for greater vitality.
Carve out space in your home for a functional workspace. When you are sitting in the same position all day, it’s essential to be set up ergonomically as much as possible. This will take the wfh stress off your shoulders, back and knees. Ergonomic Trends has a free guide to help you arrange a comfortable workspace.
Make sure you have a space in which you can concentrate without a lot of distractions. We added a noise-canceling headset to our work-from-home tools, and it’s been a game-changer. If you are looking for a new desk, check out the height-adjustable desks.
These are great to get in some time standing time versus sitting all day. We’ve seen various types on Wayfair, IKEA, and Amazon. Another option is the stand-up desk converter, which fits on top of an existing table or desk.
Building in some periodic movement reduces stress, helps with blood flow, and improves breathing and oxygenation of our cells. Setting a reminder on your calendar that suits your schedule for the day is a key to establishing a routine of periodically standing up, stretching, drinking more water, and breathing exercises.
We love the guidance from Dr. Andrew Weil. These both reduce anxiety and alleviate stress(1).
Exercise at home can be a challenge for most people; between lack of space and need for equipment, this activity often falls away. Going for a stroll can be an excellent way to get in that needed movement; alternating your pace will provide more challenges and boost your metabolism.
The summer heat is a bit much for all of us, and going for a walk is relegated to the earlier hours, which doesn’t always work with our schedules. We do enjoy taking the kids and dog for a walk, in nature, and exploring our local area and try to get us on a trail a few times per month.
We tend to be more successful in group classes with our consistency. Seeing our buddies and getting called out when we’ve been a no show for a couple of classes is a positive motivator for us, so when everything closed, we had to come up with a new plan. Various options require minimal tools, like Qi Gong, Mat Pilates, Barre classes, and Yoga.
There are options for doing group workouts with a guided instructor. The Club Pilates studio we belong to provided live mat and some reformer classes in their private Facebook group. This was an excellent way for us to feel connected while doing our workout, even if we watched it as a replay.
A local Barre studio provided several Zoom classes with members. Youtube has thousands of exercise videos to help you find a routine and activity that you enjoy.
Healthy Food Choices
Filling your pantry and fridge with wholesome, nutritious, and filling options is one of the best ways to support your health, mainly when you are confined to staying home. It’s tough to make healthy choices when we have lots of unhealthy choices at our fingertips.
We’re just as likely to grab a bag of chips or an icy treat and veg out with Netflix’s latest thriller! Having young kids that seem to go through food at a rapid pace, we’ve become strategic in what we have on hand. Lots of fresh fruit can be grabbed from the fridge or out of a fruit bowl on the counter.
We often have carrots, cucumber, and hummus readily available, and we’ll make popcorn on the stovetop to avoid all the carcinogens in microwave popcorn bags. We have veggie, lentil, and quinoa chips that are surprisingly delicious and satisfying along with snack packs of seaweed.
Batch cooking is a fantastic way of having healthy meals on hand that requires a cook once effort. Not many of us are interested in spending our Sunday meal prepping for the week, and batch cooking is a great alternative. Anytime you are up for making a meal, double the batch and store in freezer-safe containers.
We use a lot of Pyrex containers and mason jars. These can go into the freezer and, after allowing it to thaw a bit, pop into the oven on a low temp to reheat. They can also go in the microwave, but we do not use microwaves.
If you’re not sure where to shop, or prefer having items delivered whenever possible, Thrive Market is a wonderful option. They’ve done the leg work of researching companies and ingredients and provide you with shopping options by diet or category. You can even get 25% off your first order with this code.
[Read: 7 Healthy Foods to Eat]
If there is one thing we feel has taken the hardest hit during this pandemic it has been our sense of community. Isolation is painful and leads to depression, emotional eating, and drinking, not to mention people with addictions sliding out of recovery.
Create a pod of people you can isolate with, and we don’t mean you all have to live together. If you have close friends or family, maybe a neighbor that you can have human contact with, in person, will boost your immunity significantly.
Having a handful of people you can meet; however, that looks for you is powerful. Humans are social creatures, and isolation is dangerous for mental health. The community also keeps your immune system engaged and active.
Stress is the biggest offender when it comes to health, and that was before we had to deal with a worldwide pandemic. All the prior tips will help reduce stress, and reducing stress is genuinely a multi-factor operation.
Drinking clean water, at least half your body weight in ounces, is a good rule of thumb for keeping your cells hydrated. By clean water, we mean water that has been filtered from the by-products of most drinking water (tap) of pharmaceutical residue, fluoride, chlorine, and bromides, to name a few.
These all build up a shell around your cells and prevent you from taking nutrients.
[Also Read: How to Destress Yourself]
The unsung hero of the bodies rests and recovers. Sleep is often illusive, and trying to function while exhausted is incredibly hard on your immune system and brain function. Taking sleeping pills is dangerous and addictive. If you can set a bedtime of 10 pm and awaken at 6 am – that is the ideal sleep cycle.
That’s not always an option, so getting the best rest for the hours you do sleep is essential. Remove electronics from the bedroom, no more falling asleep to the T.V. or checking your phone one last time before closing for the night. Charge your phone in another room.
Make a bedtime routine that includes relaxation techniques like meditation, bedtime yoga stretches, breathing exercises, or journaling. If you have a to-do list running in your mind, put it on paper and give your brain a rest.
Writing of gratitude is uplifting, and writing down your stresses is relieving. You certainly don’t have to do the same thing every night! Just create a routine of self-care and give yourself 30 minutes to wind down.
Take the right quality supplements. Do not buy your supplements in the same place you buy your toilet paper. That seems silly, but poor supplements are a waste of money. They typically don’t do the job you are buying them to do, and they have a lot of harmful fillers.
It is always recommended to have your traditional blood work reviewed by a Functional Medicine practitioner versed in blood chemistry to see precisely what you are low in, where dysfunction is trending in your own body, and then utilize supplements as needed for you specifically.
The finest way to prevent illness is to create an environment in which a virus can’t live. Germs and bacteria are particularly happy in acidic environments.
Creating the right Ph balance in your body has excellent drainage, which means you have at least one bowel movement per day, proper hydration, and eating whole foods are the keys to a healthy body and microbiome.
Rounding out with supplements that suit your body’s needs, which typically include magnesium, vitamin d, b vitamins, zinc, and buffered vitamin c all help create a prepared immune system.
Lastly, love yourself! Stop the negative speak in your head and give yourself grace and love. You deserve it, and you’ll be delighted by the person you can be with positive personal dialogue.
About The Author:
Kristina Cole, is a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner ( FDN-P ) is a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and wellness educator who teaches how to slow down, observe what is happening in our body and how our choices impact how we feel.