Suddenly, life has changed and one of the most noticeable differences is likely your new work environment. If you’re used to attending a workplace and have now shifted your work to home, you’re not alone. There are countless numbers of people now working from the end of the kitchen bench, sharing the desk in the study or, if really stretched, the couch.
It’s not just your workstation that’s changed. Everything about getting ready for, preparing for and commuting to work has also. For some, change creates stress and in many, stress leads to less than healthful habits. Here are our top five suggestions for keeping your health goals ticking in times of change at work.
1. Create a new normal:
We know the commonality between some of the world’s most successful individuals is the formation of habits and use of ritual. If you can associate, these times of change may mean your old rituals and habits have flown out the window. That’s ok, but try as quickly as possible to create a ‘new normal’. For example:
- If you used to park your car 10 minutes from the office and achieve 1,200 steps before and after work, in the absence of commuting to work, go for a 10-minute walk around the block before and after work.
- If you used to walk 5 minutes to the coffee shop or meeting places, fit walks in at regular intervals from home.
- If you used to pack lunch in preparation for the working day, keep it up, but now you have greater flexibility in what you can make!
2. Maintain a schedule:
If you’ve ever worked for yourself, you’ll have experienced first-hand that feeling of knowing things need to be done, but with no-one to tell you by when and how. These people quickly realise that the only way to successfully work for yourself and do it long term is to have a schedule in place. The same applies if you find yourself working from home for the first time. You mightn’t have to be in the office strictly on time any more, but you do still need to get work done.
Begin with setting clear start and finish times and go from there. If you’re a morning trainer, maintain that morning workout. If you used to break for lunch at 1pm and it worked for you, have that break. Where your schedule might differ is if you used to have a long commute to work and you now find yourself with that extra time on hand. This time saved shouldn’t mean more work, it’s the golden opportunity to exercise, meditate, sleep more and food prep (like a simple chia pudding) – all the things you said you couldn’t do when you didn’t have enough time.
3. Separate work and home:
You used to physically leave the workplace which, for most, also promotes mentally leaving the workplace. The lack of physical distance means it’s a good idea to be even more conscious of how else to create a delineation between the work and home. The risk of not doing this is stress, over activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the associated effects on health. You might try:
- Packing your workstation away at the end of the day.
- Walking around the block at the beginning and end of each day. An opportunity to clear your head like you may have done if you used to walk to the car or public transport.
- Practicising 5 – 10 minutes of deep breathing/guided meditation. An opportunity to create mental space between work and home.
4. Separate work from where you eat:
Eating whilst in (virtual) meetings, tending to your inbox or whilst in a heightened state of arousal detracts from the ideal ‘rest and digest’ state of the parasympathetic nervous system. For many this is what leads to bloating, gas, discomfort and overeating. Couple this with easier access to your favourite foods (e.g. your desk is now closer if not part of the kitchen) it may lead to unnecessary snacking. You might like to try:
- Finding an alternate space in the home or garden to eat.
- If you need a mental break, rather than reach for the pantry or fridges do 5 minutes of deep breathing, go for a walk around the block or call a colleague.
5. Beat sugar cravings:
Stress, lack of schedule, loneliness and boredom are all very common feelings associated with working at home and/or in isolation. These feelings often lead to cravings and snacking, so be sure to cover the absolute basics by staying hydrated, moving, eating real food at meal times and meditating if you need. Review our Six Ways to Beat Sugar Cravings if you need a refresher.
Need More Support?
Need more support in setting any of the above in place? Book in for your complimentary 15-minute consultation today.