I joked last week on Facebook that COVID-19 was named because we are all going to gain 19 pounds from working from home. If we are wearing our comfy clothes (I’m currently wearing a loose sweater and a pair of yoga pants), we might not notice how our new working lifestyle is impacting our health.
You are likely far more sedentary than before. My work commute is ten steps. In the evening, the walk to the couch isn’t far. Walking outside isn’t always possible (it is still cold and rainy here), and technically Warren and I are still in isolation, so we shouldn’t be going anywhere (even for a nice day walk).
The 19-pound joke is real.
What is even scarier is the fact that this may become the new “norm” for many people. And the new norm needs to be healthy.
Here is how I made my office healthier for me:
1. I removed all “snack” foods from my office. No more afternoon treats, no more mints for afternoon snacks (which I justified as it gave me fresh breath). No sugar rush during the day possible at my desk. If I need a snack (even fruit), I need to physically get out of my chair and workspace to get it. While the kitchen isn’t far, the steps alone make my workspace healthier. When you keep track of how many empty calories you put in your mouth just because they are handy, it scares you!
[ctt template=”3″ link=”BiW7w” via=”yes” ]Want to make your work at home workspace healthier? Check out these eight easy tips[/ctt]
2. I make sure that each day I put a full (large) water bottle on my desk to drink. When the water is there, I manage to drink it. When it isn’t there, I don’t miss it, but since I know it is healthy, I make sure that it is there. I add lemon and flavors to keep me healthy and interested in the water. This also gives me extra steps going to the ladies’ room several times a day. On good days, I fill it up again for the afternoon.
3. I am committed to standing more. I have a standing desk, and I love it. I added a standing mat to take the pressure off my legs (which worked), but I found that because I was so inundated with work, I was sitting more often than I really should be just because I was too busy to realize I had become lazy with my standing habit. Not only did I commit to standing more, but I also made it easier by adding an ergonomic wobble chair to the mix. It allows me to stand all day, and when needed, lean back onto the chair. The chair engages my core muscles, almost like exercising (except no sore muscles or sweat!). I raised my chair very high so that I was more or less standing at my desk, with support on my bottom. I have to tell you that I love it just as much as I love the standing desk, and the combination has made me feel better and more productive throughout the day. Since I can be more or less standing all day, I find that I am more active, more likely to move around the office instead of “getting out of a chair.” My simple little switch has had a significant effect on making my workspace healthier.
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4. I set my Fitbit and/or phone to remind me every hour to get up and walk around the office for a minimum of 250 steps per hour. If you’ve ever tried to get 10,000 steps a day, you realize that it isn’t easy if you don’t have some form of exercise in your life. Each hour I get a little buzz, which reminds me that I need to take a few minutes to walk away from what I am doing, refresh my mind, and move my body. I find that just walking away at least hourly allows me to stay healthier at work in both body and mind.
5. I stopped eating lunch at my desk. I know better. I know that I need a break (every hour as above, and not just at lunchtime). I take time at lunch (at least 15 minutes) and do something that is non-work related. Warren and I eat together, and we try to chat about non-work related stuff. Sometimes it is a quiet lunch while we are reflecting on life, and sometimes we are quite chatty. Although we work together all day, we aren’t overly talkative in the office, as we are both focused. We turn on the radio (not the news) and lighten the mood each day during the lunch break.
6. I take 10 minutes at the end of the day, and I clean up my desk. In fairness, I have always done that, but now I am making sure that I’m cleaning, not just the files and clutter on my desk, but also my inbox, and my bulletin board (there were a lot of really old things on that!). I am reorganizing my filing system (I don’t need as many paper files as I have), and my scheduling systems – to ensure the next day starts on-the-right-track! I set up my post-it note to organize my next day.
7. I am keeping a positive mind. I’m making a point to stay away from finger-pointing, much of the news, and general negativity. I am looking for the good things in life (both online and in-person) and doing my hardest to stay away from those conversations and people that bring me down (you know who they are!).
8. I am putting a little more pamper into my life, so my desk has some of my favorite hand lotions in a drawer. I changed the photo that I have been looking at for a couple of years and put one of my great group of gal pals. I bought new Post-It notes that make me smile. I got a new pen for Christmas I just pulled out. Little things that make me smile and remind me that I am working towards a healthier me, especially while I am at work.
Changing my workspace wasn’t expensive. It keeps me healthy, which allows me to be balanced, more productive, and enjoy working at my desk a little more than I have in the past. Since we will be working here a lot more than expected, I need (and deserve) it to be a healthy place.
What do you do to keep your working from home space healthy?