How to stay stress-free and healthy when working from home

So, you’re working from home as a result of imposed lockdown. For hundreds of thousands of employees of businesses large, medium and small, working from home is something new, on-trend and a potentially liberating experience.

For others working from home is a place that is very close to purgatory, a place where they are bereft of healthy social contact, small talk across their desks, water cooler gossip time and fixed work place parameters.

However, for the hardy band of freelancers, media types and nomads of the world, working from home, from a coffee shop or cafe with Wi-Fi access is second nature and something to which they all had to adapt at some point. Working from home for the uninitiated may seem like heaven on earth, but it isn’t necessarily the case. Working from home throws up new challenges which may, at best, be a slight inconvenience but at worst, a severe distraction that eats away at their productivity and not a healthy lifestyle.

Work requires discipline

Working in an office environment is governed by rules, protocols, procedures and time management. Not all of these will be written rules; some are rules which are flexible and not written but nevertheless understood by everyone. For example, working in the office, we know we are allowed to talk, chat and gossip but the rule about getting the work done, on time and in budget is sacrosanct and not broken.

A fixed time period between starting in the morning and finishing in the afternoon marks the parameters in which work should be completed with few if any distractions. It is easy to let these parameters slip if you work from home. How easy is it to get up, make a cup of tea and start work, not even getting dressed but staying in a dressing gown all day?

You need to be disciplined to stay disciplined; working at home, this is a list, although not exhaustive, of potential distractions which can disrupt your day:

  • Kids need attention.
  • Kids are fighting, arguing, clattering toys or trailing in mud from the garden.
  • Spouse/partner needs attention.
  • Discomfort resulting from poor posture or slouching in a chair not designed for desk work.
  • Washing machine finishes cycle and clothes need hanging on the line.
  • Parcel delivery requiring signature while you’re on the phone to a client.
  • Mum calls to have a chat because she thinks you may need a break from work.

OK, so this is a light-hearted list but these are potential distractions which can all too easily distract you from work, distractions which you will not experience working in the office. Don’t get sucked in to slack behaviour – it can affect your productivity but, worse still, bad habits formed working from home will have to be shed when you return to the office; that can be a potentially big problem for you and your co-workers.

Stay healthy, stay fit

The chair at your office desk is probably ergonomically designed for maximum comfort while helping you maintain good sitting posture. If you are working from home, you’ll still need to maintain good posture to avoid incurring any niggling injuries or RSI issues. Your desk in the office will probably be laid out in such a way that everything you need is close to hand, so no stretching or awkward movement is required to reach anything you need.

At home it may not be the case. You may not think there is a problem as working from home is only going to be temporary – isn’t it? If it is, all well and good but if it isn’t you may well want to take a good look at your home work space and prep it for the possible long term. The NHS website states that RSI is caused by continuous working without a break, changes to work patterns and working in a new work environment. Hundreds of thousands of employees have, literally overnight, had their working practices changed beyond recognition.

According to the Mayo Clinic, workplace injuries, RSI and other health issues caused by changes in working practices may well increase over time as a result of lockdown home working. Apparently, there has been, in a short space of time, a correlation between new working practices and searches for alternative medicines and therapies for pain and discomfort in joints, backs, legs, arms and muscular-skeletal issues in general.

Additionally, the Cannigma website carries several articles about how relaxation techniques, meditation and cannabis oil can all help in relieving joint pain, muscular pain and other related health issues caused by bad posture, RSI and other work related issues. Many of the articles posted are of quite recent dates and are trending. There are also some excellent videos which can help you understand alternative therapies and how they can be administered.

Avoid manufactured pain relief if possible

Taking manufactured pain killers or anti inflammatory medication over time can be a health issue in itself. Anti inflammatory medication can cause stomach ulcers. For sufferers of Asthma, anti inflammatory medication is not good. Alternative medication and good health practice are increasingly being sought after as a way of avoiding manufactured pain relief.

Working from home isn’t all it is cracked up to be. You will still have deadlines, still have budgets to work to yet you’ll have distractions the like of which you’ll never experience in the office. But, if you set parameters for your work, manage your time, avoid being distracted and adopt healthy practices, you’ll find, like many of us have done, that working from home can be a breeze.