Well at Work
5 Ways to Boost Your Health When Working at Home
Working from home provides a chance to save time otherwise spent on commuting, meetings, and office chitchat. It’s also an opportunity to eat cleaner, move more, and live healthier. For many people, however, working from home offers more distraction than even the most hectic day at the office. But with a little planning, it’s possible to overcome those obstacles and make the most of the situation.
Any discussion of working at home, whether on a temporary or full-time basis, begins with creating a separate space as free as possible from family interruption and other distractions. Once that’s established, here are five ways to benefit from working at home to live healthier.
1. Eat cleaner.
One of the core nutritional strategies of eating healthier is to rid your refrigerator and pantry of unhealthy food options, especially processed goods, and replace them with lean protein sources, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and plenty of healthy snacks. Once that’s accomplished, such convenience will help you save time and money over eating lunch out at work or scrambling for healthy options for mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks. (Related: How to Eat Healthy at Work) Working from home also means you won’t be tempted by office birthday cake and other special occasion food.
One misconception about working from home is that it’s less stressful. Actually, it’s possible to get caught up in work and forget to eat lunch. Unlike at the office, where you can see co-workers eating at their desks or going out to eat, it’s easier to lose track of time at home. When that happens, it’s tempting to grab whatever’s available.
If you follow the Core Performance strategy of cooking a lot of lean protein on a Sunday and packaging it with vegetables and other fiber-rich carbs in single-serving containers, you’ll have plenty of healthy options to fuel yourself quickly all week—especially if it’s 2 p.m. and you just realize why you’re starving. People are far more likely to eat leftovers out of the refrigerator than they are to package leftovers and take them to an office. If you’re pro-active about planning dinners, you’ll likely have plenty of leftover options for lunch.
2. Maximize the commute hour.
Anyone who commutes to work knows that fighting traffic is often stressful and feels like time lost. So make the most of the time you would otherwise spend commuting by doing something that will benefit your mind and body.
Schedule a typical commute time of anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes for yourself in the morning. If you want to use that time to catch up on sleep, great. If you want to exercise or do some morning meditation, go for it. The important thing is that you don’t let this time just slip away or melt into your work hours. Or if you want to use that block of would-be commuting time as an excuse to start work earlier and quit sooner, that's also a good option. As noted earlier, it’s easy to lose track of time when you’re working at home, so claim this block of time for yourself, and make it count.
3. Enjoy training flexibility.
Many people find that if they don’t train first thing in the morning, it’s unlikely they’ll work out at all. It’s just as easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of phone calls, e-mails and other brushfires working from home as it is in the office. (Related: 10 Things Healthy People Do Before Noon)
But you might find working at home gives you more flexibility to train during the lunch hour. That pre-made lunch or leftovers will save you time. So will not commuting or dealing with in-person meetings and office pleasantries. Showering at home probably is easier than it is at even the most convenient corporate fitness centers.
Perhaps you have better training options at home than you do at work, whether it’s a home gym, a swimming pool, or a favorite running course. Enjoy a mid-day break and take advantage of the convenience. Or if you prefer to train after work, use working at home as a way to be more productive so you can clock out earlier and get to your workout.
4. Treat home like an office.
It’s tempting to use the flexibility of working from home as an excuse to multitask. Why not do laundry between conference calls, empty the dishwasher after lunch, look at the mail when it comes, or take advantage of the privacy to make personal calls and do social networking?
Whether you’re self-employed or not, this will blur the distinction between home and work and soon you’re spending more hours—including the early evening—in a hybrid work/home existence that feels more like working around the clock.
First, create a healthy office environment for yourself—work at a desk or table, not on the couch in front of the TV. It’s bad for your posture, and it’s distracting. Second, limit the work hours to work tasks. This isn’t to say you can’t create a schedule that involves picking kids up from school, serving as a sports coach, or enjoying the occasional networking lunch, a must for self-employed professionals working at home. But use those quality-of-life commitments as motivation to get as much done in the designated work hours as possible. Self-employed people embrace that philosophy since their income is tied to how much they can accomplish in a given period of time.
Even if you’re a salaried employee, use working from home as a reason to work as quickly as possible. Unlike most office workers, who are expected to hang around for designated hours, there’s probably no reason you can’t knock off early if everything is done. Just have your mobile device handy in case you’re needed.
5. Keep moving.
Regardless of where you work, it’s important to counteract the effects of a high-tech world where we sit in front of computer screens all day, tightening our hips and rounding our shoulders. No matter how formal your office, there’s no excuse not to spend a few moments every hour or two resetting posture or even doing a few Movement Prep exercises.
Working from home, there’s definitely no excuse not to get up every 60 or 90 minutes and move around. After all, you’re probably dressed more comfortably. Though some workplace experts advocate dressing to work from home as you would at the office, thus fostering a more serious mindset, you’ll probably find productivity has little to do with attire. If you’re dressed to move, you’re more likely to do so. And without co-workers around, you’ll be less self-conscious about moving around the office—your office.
Core Performance contributor Pete Williams has worked mostly from home for 15 years.
About The Author
Pete Williams – Pete Williams is a contributing writer for CorePerformance.com and the co-author of the Core Performance book series.