When covid-19 hit hard in 2020, millions of employees were compelled to work from home. While this may initially have been a dream come true for some, it quickly became a nightmare for many as we went through months of lockdown.
According to a poll by the American Psychological Association, 42% of adults gained more weight than desired, 23% consumed more alcohol, and 31% expressed concern over their mental health.
These come with significant health risks with repercussions on the workforce and society in general.
Now is the time to act more than ever before. And the good news is that you can stay healthy and fit when working from home, even if you are dealing with toddlers, feel lethargic and stressed, or find yourself short of time.
1. Start your day right
In a commencement address at the University of Texas, Admiral William H. McRaven famously said “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”
The same principle applies to every task you get done in the morning. Having a healthy breakfast motivates you to eat healthy throughout the day.
Similarly, getting your workout session out of the way will leave you feeling active and ready to take on the day ahead. Whether you work from home or not, starting your day right is a sure-fire way to feeling good for the next 24 hours.
2. Fit short bursts of activity throughout the day
You’d think working from home would leave you with plenty of time to exercise. Although this may be true, time is not what gets in the way. It’s lethargy.
The simple solution is to schedule (and I do mean put it down on your calendar) short bursts of activity. It can be as simple as sparing 5 to 10 minutes every hour or so to do a few jumping jacks, stretch, have a walk around the block, or if you’re feeling enthusiastic, go for a few burpees or a quick run.
The endorphins can make you feel pretty darn good!
3. Plan your meals days ahead
When working from home, it is too easy to reach for quick, unhealthy foods throughout the day. An effective solution is meal planning. However, it is also an overwhelming task to even get started with. Yet, with a few simple tips and tricks, it can be done.
- Frozen meals- You can freeze over leftovers or even cook in large batches that you can freeze for later use. For instance, you can conveniently freeze lasagna, muffins, pancakes, and many other cooked foods for up to three months.
- Make-ahead smoothie packs- A smoothie is a quick and healthy way to meet your fruit and vegetable intake for the day. Use sealable bags to pack together with the ingredients that you prefer for your smoothie. Store in the freezer until needed.
- Meal prep on Sundays- Spare a few hours every Sunday to plan and prepare your meals for the week ahead. This will save you the headache of figuring out what to eat when you only have 10 minutes before your next meeting.
4. Prioritize your mental health
It can be mentally taxing to work from home, attend to house chores, and maybe care for the kids all at the same time. Your mental health quickly takes the backseat.
Let’s do a little exercise here- take a piece of paper and write down all the activities that make you feel good- you as a person, not your family, not your friends, not what you think should make you feel good- just be genuine and honest. What are the first two things that came to your mind? These are your “golden eggs”!
Whether it is swimming, reading, going to karaoke, meditation, long walks, or just reconnecting with friends and family, schedule time for it every single day.
Doing that as little as 10 minutes a day will work wonders for your mental health.
5. Plan quality time with your children and spouse
In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we often forget that spending quality time with our loved ones can have tremendous therapeutic benefits. We go through the day engrossed in our tasks, anxious to get to the finish line. We forget the power of a hug or saying “I love you” or cuddling our little ones.
Make it a must to plan quality time with your family. It is too easy to get in the “roommate” mentality and go about life missing out on the most important things.
It will do wonders for your mental health, make you feel better and more fulfilling by the end of the day.
Take home message
It is possible to stay physically and mentally healthy when working from home. Despite everything going on around you- children, house chores, work-related stress- it is important to plan and prioritize your mental health.
By fitting in these tips in your daily life, you will soon see a major change in your mindset, energy level, and overall health. And people around you will see the same too!
You will be better equipped to take on your days and be more productive. Remember, the key to being physically and mentally healthy is not to work harder, but to be smarter.
The Poll by the American Psychological Association