Here are 10 tips to stay healthy while you are working from home, from a Registered Dietitian who works from home every day!
Starting this week, pretty much everyone is working from home for the foreseeable future to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In theory, working remotely sounds like a dream. But, it can be difficult to stay focused, feel productive, and stick to your health goals while doing so.
As a Registered Dietitian who has worked from home for over a year, I’ve developed a routine to help me stay productive and healthy. When I say healthy, this encompasses physical, mental, and emotional health. See below for my top 10 tips for staying healthy while working from home!
10 tips to stay healthy when working from home
1. Continue your morning routine.
This is one of the most important tips for working from home. Act as if you were actually leaving for the office: eat breakfast, shower, and put real clothing on before you begin your work for the day.
It’s definitely tempting to stay in your PJ’s all day, but it gets old pretty quickly. You’ll feel more put together, confident, and productive once you’ve changed into work clothing.
2. Tidy your home for 5 minutes.
Before you sit down to begin working, take just 5 minutes to tidy up your workspace and home. For me, this means clearing off the kitchen counter, putting last night’s dishes away, setting the couch cushions nicely, and removing coffee table clutter.
When your surroundings are clean and tidy, you’ll be able to think more clearly without distractions. Instead of focusing on the clutter, you can focus on your tasks.
3. Make daily to-do lists.
Without coworkers or your boss looking over your shoulder, it’s tempting to let some tasks slide. Hold yourself accountable by writing daily to-do lists every morning. Cross out each item as you move through your list.
4. Sit at a desk or table.
Avoid sitting on the couch or in bed while you are working. It sound comfy, but I promise you won’t be as productive. If you don’t have a desk, use the kitchen counter or table.
Make a rule for yourself that you won’t move to the couch until you complete your work. It will feel like a reward after a day of productivity! Also, this rule really helps your mind separate “work mode” and “home mode”.
5. Minimize distractions.
It’s so tempting to keep the TV on in the background, or pick up your phone every 5 minutes when you’re working at home. This will lessen your focus, though, and distract your brain from your to-do list. If you need to, put your phone upside down, on silent mode, or in another room when you need to focus. I just put mine upside down behind my laptop screen so it’s completely out of sight.
When I have trouble focusing, I like to use the Pomodoro Technique. You work distraction-free for 25 minutes, followed by a 5 minute break. Repeat until your task is complete. I use the 5 minute breaks to check Instagram, stretch, or read an article.
6. Play light music or a podcast.
For some, it can be hard to concentrate when it’s totally silent. If that’s you, put on some coffeeshop vibe music or your favorite podcast. Some of my favorite work-from-home playlists on Spotify are Lush Lofi, Creamy, and Soul Coffee.
7. Eat regular, balanced meals and snacks.
One thing that doesn’t change when you work from home: you still need to eat! Nourish your body with energy by eating regular meals and snacks. One of the best parts of working from home is the ability to prepare a fresh lunch, so take advantage of that!
It might be tempting to continuously snack and look in the fridge while you’re working at home. Here’s how to specifically tackle this issue:
Eat balanced and filling meals that include protein, non-starchy vegetables, and carbohydrates. When we feel the constant need to snack, it’s usually because we aren’t eating enough in general, or aren’t eating enough carbohydrate.
Eat your meals distraction free. Close your laptop and take a true lunch break away from work so you can enjoy your meal.
Before opening the fridge, check in with yourself. Are you reaching for food because you are truly hungry, or is it due to stress, boredom, or other emotions? If it’s true hunger, go for a fiber and protein rich snack.
If it’s stress or boredom, brainstorm other ways to deal with that emotion before turning to food. But, if you truly will feel better after eating a cookie, EAT THE COOKIE. Food IS comforting and it’s ok to use it that way, especially in times like these.
Meal prep or purchase healthy snack options for when the moment strikes. You’re much more likely to eat a healthy snack if it’s easily available and visible. Some examples include chopping up vegetable sticks to eat with hummus, making a batch of energy balls, or pre-portioning out bags of trail mix.
8. Take a true break from work.
You’re still entitled to your lunch hour when you work from home. It’s arguably more important to use it now than usual! Try to take your usual lunch break and do something pleasant and completely non-work related. Some examples are:
Go for a walk.
Do a 30 minute workout. You can even save time by staying in your workout clothes for the rest of the afternoon.
Call or FaceTime a friend or family member.
Read a book.
Do a crossword puzzle or sudoku.
9. Go outside.
Even if it’s freezing, raining, or sweltering hot, go outside at least once every day. There are so many benefits to being outside, even for a short period of time. Leaving the house, even just once a day, puts you in a different environment and really helps you reset.
For me right now, that means daily afternoon walks around the neighborhood. Go with your partner or by yourself to think or call a friend.
10. Separate work from home.
At the end of your work day, implement habits to switch back into “home mode”. Shut your laptop and store it away. Light some candles. Wash your face. Do a non-work related task, like a load of laundry. NOW it’s ok to move to the couch and put on Netflix.
These simple acts will signify to your brain that work is done for the day, so you can begin to relax and rewind.