Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to Work from Home and Keep the Body of a God(dess)

Working from home can be great for your psyche (no more office stress, ridiculous gossip and backstabbing or listening to your co-worker blather on and on about her terrible relationships) but once you are doing so, what about your physical health? More than likely, you're continually staring at a computer screen, typing on a keyboard, sitting at a desk (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), snacking on something you shouldn't and washing it down with something caffeinated.
Keeping healthy is an important issue for work at home employees. Why? Because:
·         most don't have sick days (even though most find a way to work through a cold)
·         what you do for a living has an effect onlong-term health
·         a number of work from home employees who have no (or are scant on) health insurance
·         time is money
·         an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

To stay healthy when working from home, consider these tips:

Start each day with exercise. Doesn't matter what. Take a brisk walk, jog, ride your exercise bike or even practice some yoga if you're into it—and do it a minimum of twenty minutes each morning. This isn't just a physical benefit; it keeps your brain chemicals (your endorphins, serotonin and dopamine) at healthy levels-- something that is imperative for good health.  

Practice a positive mindset. Meditation, repeating affirmations—anything that gets you to that "feel good" place. This too is totally necessary for good physical, mental and emotional health. (Try it while you're out exercising for the extra boost!)

Aim for Healthy foods. It's easy to grab whatever is easiest and just start noshing.  Don't let snack times get out of control. It may feel inconvenient when you're busy but you gotta pay attention-- mindlessly grazing adds extra calories and extra calories have a way of sneaking onto your waist line and creating health hazards you won't know about until they pounce. Even if you're exercising every day, you still may be shoveling in more than you're working off. And certain snacks, like potato chips and other things that have sugars in them, can make you sleepy and less productive.  Before you grab and snack, ask yourself: am I eating this because I'm hungry or because I'm_____________?

Pay attention to your keyboard. If you type a lot, beware of the "Big Bad C"-- carpal tunnel. That's nerve damage. Once it's done, it's done. There's no way to undamaged the nerves in your hands and wrists. And, take it from those who have been there-- you don't want to wait until you can't do even the most basic things with your hands to realize how important they are to everyday life. Surgery is usually the end result but rarely is it the end-all, heal-all.  It's a road that is better just avoided. Make sure the desk, the chair you sit in (and the way you sit in it) and your keyboard are set up in an ergonomically correct way.

Take breaks. Most who work from home are good at this but don't make the best of them. Therefore, take ten minutes away from your workstation every so often and go outside and get your eyes off your computer screen! Move around so that the blood that has pooled in your lower body can flow someplace else. Stretch. Listen to music. Reach out and call someone you know you can have a brief and fun conversation with. GIVE YOUR BRAIN A REST!

Move your workplace. This is why you wanted to not be stuck in the office anymore, remember? If you can, work outside occasionally or in a different setting. It can be refreshing. If you can't, open windows and curtains. Let the fresh air and natural light in.

Keep your workspace clean. Of course the only person in your office is you but thanks to cross-contamination, things can get germy anyway. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer and take the time to occasionally clean (I mean REALLY CLEAN) your workspace. Declutter your space, sanitize your keyboard, move your chair and desk and vacuum under it. This will create a nice flow and a pleasant feeling of cleanliness that makes it easier and much more pleasant to work.  

Have strict hours. Starting is usually not a problem for those who work from home—stopping is. Set an alarm and when that alarm goes off, business is OVER. It may seem near impossible for some but break your habit of telling yourself 'I'll just work 15 more minutes" or checking your email "one last time". Shut your computer down for the day and start an evening ritual that allows you to wind down so your mind is uncluttered before you go to bed. If that means taking a hot bath, drinking some tea, a little comedy television or some combination thereof, do so. If you're not good at self-control, ask a family member to put your laptop someplace out of sight or if you have an office with a key, have your spouse lock the door and put the key somewhere you don't know about. Whatever you have to do.

Get good sleep. Your brain is going to need some respite after the massive electrical storm it has going throughout the day as you work-- and so is the rest of your body. Since they both are helping you keep up with a work from home job, YOU need to help them too by keeping up with healthy habits. It's quid pro quo, here. When pushed, the body has a way of doing what it needs to preserve itself—and will do so without asking your permission. So work with it—not against it!