The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in a new era of remote work for employees all over the world. As 2021 comes to a close, many of these employees continue to work remotely, as many companies have made their remote policies permanent. Some employees work from home full-time, while others have a hybrid set-up. But no matter what kind of remote worker you are, it is important to make sure you are staying healthy and well as you get your work done.
The benefits and drawbacks of remote work
Working from home has a lot of benefits and perks that make it desirable to employees. Many employees enjoy the flexibility that remote work offers. They have more time in their day because they do not have to commute into an office, and they can work in a familiar environment. In fact, employee interest is one of the key drivers for companies adopting hybrid or full-remote policies. Companies are also continuing to deal with the impacts of the pandemic and the uncertainty of returning to work and maintaining a safe in-person workplace, so remote work remains an attractive option.
However, there are also some drawbacks that come with working remotely. This includes a blurring of boundaries between work and personal life, lack of social interaction, and difficulty maintaining a regular schedule. These difficulties can make it hard for some people to maintain their physical and mental wellness. This can be especially true if you are new to remote work and still learning to adapt from working in a traditional office. That’s why it is important to implement some key measures to protect and promote your personal health.
Tips for staying healthy while working from home
There are many different tactics that you can use to help maintain your physical and mental health while you work from home. The following list is a great jumping off point if you are feeling stuck and unsure of how to improve your remote work experience.
Set up a dedicated office space
It is essential to have a spot that is dedicated to your work, even if it is small. Make sure that you have a comfortable chair, dedicated desk or table, and an available outlet for a light and charging cords. It is a big bonus if your space has a window with natural light, as this can be a mood booster. If you don’t have space for a dedicated office, you can set up some screens or a bookshelf to help denote your work spot and keep it separate from the rest of your living space.
Create a schedule with regular breaks
It is a good idea to create a schedule with regular breaks built into it so you and your colleagues know when you will be stepping away. Your team can plan around your regular breaks and you can do the same for others. Taking regular breaks is an important way to maintain your eye health and has the added benefit of protecting you from eye strain. It is also a great time to grab a healthy snack, take a stroll, or do some quick stretches. You could even watch a funny video or spend time texting a friend. Anything that helps your brain turn off from work mode and gives your mood a boost.
Set firm boundaries with your time
This one is especially important in a remote setting. In an office, it is easier to see when somebody is heads down working on a project, or when somebody is hanging in the break room and free to chat. But when you are working remotely, it is much harder to know what people are doing when. That’s why you have to set firm boundaries. For example, put on your calendar an hour or two that you are dedicating to work on a project, and make it clear you won’t be available to chat. Then when that time rolls around, set your status to “away” on your messaging apps, close your email window, and actually do that dedicated work. This helps protect your time and allows you to dedicate yourself fully to whatever task you are doing.
Regular physical exercise is a good way to stay physically and mentally healthy. You can choose what works best for you. That may be a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a trip to the local basketball court, or a class at your local gym. Whatever floats your boat, as long as you can do it regularly and stick with it for the long-term. Try something new if you’re having a hard time finding an activity you enjoy.
Plan social activities
One big advantage of in-person work is that it includes a lot of built in social interaction. Many of us have colleagues who are friends that we enjoy catching up with and interacting with throughout the day. Even just seeing people in the hallways and exchanging pleasantries can be very mentally stimulating and boost your mood. That’s why it is important to plan social activities, like walks with friends, meals with family, or even virtual happy hours and hangouts. Don’t forget to foster your personal life while working from home.
Prepare healthy snacks and meals
Just because you’re at home, you may assume it will automatically be easier to eat healthy. And while it is true that some office treats may be removed, you still have to have a solid plan to make sure you meet your nutritional needs. One good option is to prepare healthy snacks you can grab during the workday in advance, so you won’t be tempted by convenient, less nutritionally dense foods.
Use your HSA or FSA for at-home wellness products
Did you know you can use your HSA (or FSA) on products that help foster personal wellness? There are many items that are eligible that can help you achieve your health goals. This includes basics like sunscreen and over-the-counter medicine, health aids like cold packs and compression socks, and wellness items like acupressure mats and cooling eye masks. It pays to take a detailed look at all of the items and services that qualify under your plan so you can take advantage of tax benefits while getting the things you need to stay healthy.
Participate in hobbies you enjoy
Don’t lose sight of the activities and hobbies you enjoy because you work remotely. Make sure to carve out time to do what you love, whether it is play sports, craft, read, or something else entirely. This is also a good way to maintain social connections and foster a sense of community.
Set yourself up for success with positive wellness habits
Whether you are new to remote work or have spent years getting things done from home, these tips give you some important tools to improve your life, at work and at home. By implementing positive habits, you can make it easy to foster good health and stay on track to achieve your goals.
A final tip: make sure to share your new habits with colleagues and friends. You can help build a community of people who support each other as you all try to lead a healthier life.
To help support your health goals, and save money on personal wellness products, set up a Lively HSA today.
Disclaimer: the content presented in this article are for informational purposes only, and is not, and must not be considered tax, investment, legal, accounting or financial planning advice, nor a recommendation as to a specific course of action. Investors should consult all available information, including fund prospectuses, and consult with appropriate tax, investment, accounting, legal, and accounting professionals, as appropriate, before making any investment or utilizing any financial planning strategy.