How to Stay Healthy While Working From Home During COVID-19

How to Stay Healthy While Working From Home During COVID-19 | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Due to COVID-19, we’ve had to make a lot of major changes in our lives in a short period of time. From social distancing and the way we communicate with others, to the way we do our shopping (with most stores moving to online-only shopping temporarily.) Something else many Canadians have had to change in recent months is the way they do their work, with many businesses shutting down their offices to outside traffic and others allowing their employees to work remotely (i.e. from home.) While not having to go into the office might sound like an easy thing to do, there can actually be a lot that goes into it – such as having to download computer software, getting used to using a different computer all together, etcetera.

Working remotely can also be a major change in terms of the Monday to Friday routine you were previously used to. For example, when going into the office, you likely set your alarm to wake up at a certain time each morning, set aside time to get your lunches ready, and so on and so forth. Working from home, however, it can be much easier to fall out of that routine and into some bad, unhealthy habits that you wouldn’t otherwise fall into, but it’s still important to stick to our usual routines as that’s what helps to physically and mentally prepare us for the day ahead – and below are some tips that will hopefully help you do that.

1. Don’t sleep in! You might not have to get up as early if you’re working from home, but you should still try to keep your alarm set for around the same time each morning as you normally would if you were still going into the office. If you do want to sleep in a bit later, then you shouldn’t set it any later than 30 minutes. The later you sleep in, the harder it will be for you to get back to your previous sleep/wake schedule once you do go back to work – because you have to remember that COVID-19 is only temporary and things will get back to normal eventually – and the time will come where you have to start commuting to the office again.

2. Prepare meals the night before, and make sure that they’re healthy. Before COVID-19, many of us would prepare our meals (lunches and snacks) for work the night before. Doing this would allow for more time in the mornings (and less scrambling trying to figure out what to make at the last minute.) Working from home, it can be much easier to fall out of this routine and grab whatever’s quick for a bite to eat – and while it’s still possible to make healthy choices this way (for example, raw vegetables make for a quick and healthy snack), you’re more likely to opt for foods that are unhealthy.

3. Find a dedicated workspace. At work you likely have your own office or workspace – and at home should be no different. Many people working from home also likely have families to tend to (with children currently being out of school), and there may also be other distractions around the house such as certain noises, television, pets running around, etc. While it’s not possible to minimize all distractions in this scenario, they can certainly be reduced by having a dedicated workspace in a quieter area of your home.

4. Limit yourself and take breaks. If you work 9 to 5, then you should stick to those hours (unless otherwise instructed by your employer.) If can often be tempting to keep working beyond the hours that you’re supposed to – either by starting earlier and/or working later – but even though you’re working from home, this can still result in burnout, so it’s important to know and respect your own limits. It’s also important to remember to step away from the computer every now and then to take breaks. This can help loosed up muscles, as well as help with eye strain caused by staring at the computer screen for prolonged periods of time.

5. Stay fit. Gyms and local community centres might be closed, but just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t stick to your usual fitness routine. You can set up your own at-home gym, or even taking part of your lunch break to go for a 20-30 minute walk around your neighbourhood can be beneficial with both weight loss, weight maintenance, and will even boost the mood.