By: Dr. Daniel Klerer D.C.
As we settle into another week of social distancing and, for some, self isolation, it is time we start to talk about appropriate measures to take while working from home.
For many of us, working from home is a brand new concept and poses more challenges to our productivity and health than we are used to. For those that work from home on a regular basis, these times are also difficult as there is a new normal at home.
Whether it is our favourite gym closing its doors, children being at home or not having a great workstation, there are ways to combat all of it and make the best out of the situation we have all found ourselves in!
- Set a Schedule
If this is your first experience working from home, one of the most difficult hurdles will be staying productive. Each night, make yourself a schedule for the upcoming day. Make sure to include everything from making/eating meals, time with the kids and some EXERCISE! Make sure to schedule in some much needed standing and positional changes while working too (every 30 minutes).
- Set up a proper Workstation
Here are some great tips to make sure your at home workstation is optimal from a postural standpoint. If you regularly work from home and aren’t doing these, start now! If you are only working from home due to the circumstances, apply these at home and then take these tips with you back to work!
- Sit with your back right up against the back of chair, feet planted firmly on the ground or a box (don’t let them dangle!)
- Bring the chair as close to the keyboard as possible so your arms aren’t reaching
- Get a separate keyboard if you are working exclusively on a laptop
- Bring the computer monitor to eye level, close enough that your neck isn’t reaching forward to see
- Keyboard and mouse should be at a lower level so shoulders don’t raise to reach them
- Spending time on the phone? Use headphones or a headset
- Take Breaks
This point may be the most crucial to our productivity and health during a workday. Taking a break refers to breaking during our working hours, as well as setting aside timed breaks for exercise or activities that involve movement. Movement is so important when we are confined to our homes. Remember, our body craves movement, and that will not change just because we are isolating ourselves!
While working, set your alarm for every 30-40 minutes (this should be done at the office as well, by the way). This allows you to stand up, stretch, move, change positions, even for 1 minute. It resets our body out of the bad posture we ultimately fall into after sitting at a desk for long periods of time, no matter how great our set up is.
Set aside some breaks that involve clearing your mind as well, this should be done for at least an hour. If time only allows you to go for a quick 10 minute walk, make lunch and eat then make the most of it. If you have the time to go for a walk for an hour, even better! Remember, the guidelines to self-isolate allow us to go outside, but just don’t congregate or play any sports.
One thing to stay clear of during your breaks is reaching for the remote for the TV or PlayStation. Yes, it is your break and you can do with it what you want, but sitting on the couch is not healthy or productive. Use the time wisely to clean the house, bake, walk, or even use this time to do your daily exercise! GET UP AND MOVE!
Whether you prefer to exercise before starting the day, in the middle of the day, or at the end, make sure you do it smart and efficient. This is not a change from the advice I normally give.
A lot of home workouts will start to be posted on social media. Remember to choose them wisely. This is not a time to try new things, without any supervision. Stick to what you know you can do. More to come on dos and don’ts of at home exercise later!
Exercise doesn’t have to heart racing, out of breath, sweat inducing either. Again, going for a long walk is a great way to move. You have been sitting a lot, so use your exercise time to foam roll, trigger ball and stretch! Yoga is a great way to de-stress while moving and stretching.
It is possible to make the best of this situation we are all in. Use the time (when not working) to find new hobbies, finish the project you have been putting off, spend more time with your family etc. Stay at home and stay healthy!