by Shannon Young, nutritionist at THR1VE
I’ve found that working from home can provide plenty of health and wellbeing benefits. No stressful commute, a relaxed working environment and extra flexibility can all help improve your workday. However, that flexibility can be detrimental, too. The work/life balance can be difficult to maintain when work and life are happening in the same place. Here are a few tricks that I use when working from home to make sure my days are both healthy and productive.
1 // Schedule in healthy breaks
It may seem counterintuitive, but when working from home you need to schedule in breaks. A lot of people assume that working from home is the “easy option”, but many people work straight through the day and work longer hours. I know if I’m working from home, I jump online much earlier and tend to work way past the usual 5:30pm finish.
In particular, make sure you take a proper lunch break. Take this opportunity to get up from your desk, get some fresh air and move around. Personally, I prep my lunch in the morning while making breakfast so it’s ready to go. This means I don’t spend the majority of my break making food, then rushing to finish it.
I usually keep lunch quite light – some lean protein like chicken and fish, some salad or roasted vegetables and healthy fats, like avocado and an olive oil dressing. This keeps me full throughout the afternoon and keeps me focused. I also have a few ready-made THR1VE meals in the fridge – two minutes in the microwave is perfect when I don’t have time to prep, but I need a nourishing meal. I like to take 25 minutes to sit in the sun, eat my lunch and completely switch off. This makes for a far more productive afternoon.
2 // Snack effectively
I recommend always keeping healthy snacks at home. If there are sweets or chocolate in the house you will most likely reach for these instead – especially if you get stressed. I always have nuts, fresh fruit and THR1VE protein balls on hand as a healthier alternative. I will normally snack on one of these mid-morning because this is when I start to get a little restless. My go-to in the afternoon is usually a cup of herbal tea. Make sure you’re drinking enough water throughout the day to keep unnecessary food cravings away and keep you focused.
In general, eating good-quality food throughout the day is going to benefit how you work, with many studies proving that the right foods will strengthen and improve cognition, learning, memory and other key brain functions. Aim to fill your plate with brain foods – essential fatty acids, antioxidant-rich foods and protein. Think: fats like avocado, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, antioxidants from colourful fruits and vegetables, plus proteins like fish and chicken. That will help keep your brain buzzing – without the need for too many double espressos.
3 // Make time to stretch
The advantage of working at home is that you can stretch throughout the day without any awkward glances from your colleagues! I set a few alarms throughout the day and make sure I do some basic stretches. Pinterest is a perfect place to find a quick 10-minute routine that you can stick on your wall. Think: shoulder shrugs, spinal twists, neck stretches and a hip flexor stretch. Of course, if you have injuries or are experiencing any pain, consult a medical professional first.
4 // Create a healthy space
Treat your home office space like an office – remove the washing you haven’t had a chance to fold and anything else that might add extra clutter and distraction. It’s also worth adding a bit of greenery in the form of a desk plant, too. There are multiple studies which have found that plants can improve mood, boost your wellbeing and help keep you calm. They also look great, too!
Lastly, make sure you “leave the office” at the end of the day. I think the hardest thing about working from home is knowing when the day is over. When you’ve finished for the day – truly switch off. I do this by writing a to-do list for the next day and allocating time for anything I didn’t complete. If you have an established home office, close the door when you’re done for the day. Otherwise, pack away or shut down your computer. My number-one piece of advice is to keep your laptop or phone away from your bed – and ideally out of the bedroom completely, if possible. Research shows that digital devices can compromise the quality of your sleep. Ensure you get enough rest by keeping your bed a tech-free zone.
Following a few of these guidelines will help you get real benefits from working from home and boost your productivity at the same time.