Jacqueline Rogers, EdD, MSHRD, RRT-NPS, RPFT
The perfect storm occurred in March 2020 and became the pivotal time in our history where businesses and schools closed due to the rapid spread of the coronavirus, COVID 19. Employees and students unaccustomed to working or studying remotely found themselves sitting around the dining table or kitchen island, or worse, balancing their laptop on their thighs while sitting on the living room couch. Home is now office and classroom, rather than our respite where we relax and recharge.
The American Psychiatric Association (n.d.) reported the number and types of distractions that occurred when home became office and classroom interrupted our ability to get recuperative downtime causing added mental stress to careers and schoolwork that already have a high stress level. The need to create a work/life balance has never been more important that it is now, but how do we do it to maintain our health and wellness?
Here are a few tips to preserve your health and wellness while working/schooling from home:
- Maintain/enhance your sleep schedule. Sleep is the foremost restorative process needed to ensure maximum alertness and concentration for a productive work/school environment. Sleep deprivation is a contributory factor to mental overload and a lack of concentration.
- Maintain your office work schedule at home. Arrive at and depart from your home office at the same times you did when working from your work location. If you arrived early and stayed late, eliminate this habit.
- Take work breaks, 15 minutes midmorning and midafternoon. Nutritionists suggest eating a serving of protein during these breaks quells the distraction of hunger pangs later.
- Take your lunch break; do not eat lunch at your home office desk. Get up and walk away from your home office. Walk outside weather permitting. “Pack” your lunch the evening before just as you would if going to your work location. Use Sundays to prepare bulk food for your weekly lunches, i.e., baked marinated boneless, skinless chicken breasts are a favorite. Use individual zip-top bags to store each piece of chicken. Prepare tossed green salad and place the salad in separate containers for the week. Pack grapes or an apple in your “lunch bag.”
- Hydrate—with water. Keep a bottle of water on your home desk to consume throughout your workday. Health experts report that a typical adult requires 80 ounces of water a day. Dehydration is more common than we realize and it contributes to a lack of concentration. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice to your water; the scent of freshly-squeezed citrus is stimulating.
- Limit back-to-back video-conferenced meetings, i.e., Zoom, to minimize screen and eye fatigue. Use phone discussions when meeting with one person rather than scheduling a Zoom call.
- Schedule virtual or socially-distanced time with friends and family to maintain the connectedness and avoid isolation.
- Set realistic expectations and let go of the guilt that accompanies juggling more responsibilities than before. Guilt deteriorates our well-being.
I hope these tips will help you maintain and even improve your health and wellness while working/schooling from home.
American Psychiatric Association. (n.d.). Working remotely during COVID-19: Your mental health and well-being. http://workplacementalhealth.org/EmployerResources/Working-Remotely-Duri...
Kinman, G., Grant, C., Fraser, J., Bell, N., Breslin, G., Colville, T., ... & MacKey, G. (2020, May). Working from home: Healthy sustainable working during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. British Psychological Society. https://pure.ulster.ac.uk/ws/files/79506622/Working_from_home_Kinman_et_...
Petzer, M. (2020). COVID-19: How to reduce stress and maintain a work-life balance while working from home. http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/13217/3/COVID%2019%20-%20How%...
Toniolo-Barrios, M. & Pitt, L. (2020). Mindfulness and the challenges of working from home in times of crisis. Business Horizons, 9(4). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bushor.2020.09.004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7535863/pdf/main.pdf