- Keep self-care practices such as sleep and mental health a priority
- Eat balanced meals on a regular schedule
- Exercise for a MINIMUM of 150 minutes per week
There are several benefits to working from home, such as extra flexibility for workers and time saved that would normally be used for driving to and from work. This extra time allows workers to make self-care a priority; however, fitting proper stress control, wholesome eating, and exercising into your routine can require time and careful planning, especially for individuals who may be new to working from home.
So how will you stay healthy while working from home? The World Health Organization defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Given the COVID-19 pandemic, now is a critical time to establish healthful work-lifestyle stability and make self-care a priority. Here are some tips for doing so:
1. Healthy Eating
Planning and preparing nutritious meals and snacks is crucial if you want to reach a high level of fitness and well-being; however, working from home can make it hard to keep your diet healthy and nutritious. Making plans in advance and working towards mindful food consumption can help ensure that you stay on course towards your fitness goals.
Let’s be honest – it’s difficult to argue with the ease of meal delivery apps. However, remember that frequently eating restaurant-prepared food increases the threat of obesity. Try to limit take-out while working from home. Restaurants generally tend to serve oversized portions and prepare meals with mountains of calories, sodium, and sugar.
The advantage of cooking at home is that you have more control over the ingredients and cooking methods used to make the food you eat. To make sure this happens, it’s helpful to plan meals and snacks in advance to make sure they’re balanced. Here are the types of ingredients you should include in a balanced meal plan:
- A variety of whole fruits (limit juice)
- Non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, red and orange veggies, etc.)
- Grains, with the goal to make at least ½ from whole-grain sources (limit grains if trying to lose body fat)
- Protein from a variety of sources like lean meats, seafood, eggs, nuts & seeds, or legumes
Make sure you have healthy kitchen staples on hand, which include fresh (non-processed) lean meats, healthy cooking oils (like olive oil or avocado oil), dried whole grains and legumes, nuts/nut butter, fresh or frozen fruits and veggies, and dried herbs and spices.
Eating while distracted normally promotes overeating. A 2019 study published within the journal Physiology & Behavior found that if people ate while using a telephone or reading an e-book/newspaper, it resulted in an increased caloric intake. Avoid eating food in front of your laptop or while working, and avoid having snacks at your table. Even better, set up a workspace that’s separate from your eating space. Eating meals while distracted, whether from work or leisure, has a tendency to cause you to consume excessive calories.
If you find yourself making frequent visits to the kitchen or fridge because of stress or boredom, choose healthy alternatives instead. You can reorganize your kitchen area to hide tempting foods so you don’t have to continuously rely on shear strength of mind to avoid them. For instance, hide chocolates and junk food in a separate cupboard or a very high shelf beyond your line of sight.
Examples of healthy snacks include fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts, nut butter, clean-cut veggies, air-popped popcorn, chicken, or tuna salad. Pairing high-fiber foods with a source of protein or healthy fat will tide you over in-between meals. Finally, keep up with a regular meal schedule. Abnormal meal timing can negatively impact circadian rhythm and increase the danger of obesity. To avoid this, try eating your meals and snacks around the same time each day. This applies to weekends, too!
2. Making Mental Health A Priority
COVID-19 has created a lot of uncertainty, which could exacerbate stress and anxiety. Many of us are now confined to our homes, and we should think creatively about ways to control stress.
One easy mental health exercise that you can establish from home is daily meditation. Research suggests that regularly-scheduled meditation can help increase productivity and promote feelings of well-being. In this unique study, contributors noticed tremendous intellectual advantages from just 20-minutes of meditation every day.
If you’re new to meditation, 20-minutes might feel like a long time. Try beginning with 5 minutes and work up from there. There are tons of online resources for guided meditations to help walk you through the method.
Another challenge of working from home is finding ways to create a barrier between work time and personal time. Not having to physically leave the office can make it extra hard for your system to determine when the workday is complete. Try not to fall into the trap of answering emails or working on tasks at all times of the day.
Research shows that working throughout your personal time to satisfy increased work demands is associated with an increased chance of poor health conditions. To avoid this, try to work during regular work hours as best as you can. Close down your computer and mute work-associated notifications after that time. Communicate those intentions to your crew and superiors and ask for their support.
Try to stick to a regular sleep routine. Since you don’t have to get to the workplace at a specific time each morning, it’s up to you to sustain a regular sleep schedule. Insufficient sleep makes it more difficult to build muscle and lose body fat. To avoid this terrible impact on your body composition, try to wake up around the same time each day.
3. Routinely Exercise
Our bodies are designed to be in constant motion, but not having to travel back and forth from work makes it difficult to stick to guidelines for physical activity. How much should you be in motion, and how will you stay encouraged to achieve your physical activity goals?
Schedule Breaks for Movement
When working from the home office, you no longer have a routine of taking walks to conferences, moving in and out of the office building, or strolling to the break room. Unfortunately, extended time spent sitting can lead to a decrease in lean body mass, and an increase in total body fat mass. This means you’ll have to make a greater conscious attempt to interrupt screen time.
Taking small physical activity breaks during the day has been proven to improve blood sugar responses after a meal and can help in attaining lower triglycerides. If this is something you battle with, consider setting a timer to remind yourself to stand up and move your body. If you’re able to, plan a brief physical activity outside since vitamin D plays a vital function in immune response. If going outdoors isn’t an option, activities like yoga, bodyweight exercises, or free workout videos online are easy ways to get in a few workouts while remaining inside.
Any physical activity is always better than none; however, to get the most physical benefits, you should try to get at least 150 minutes of mild cardio activity every week or 75 minutes of high-intensity cardio exercising per week. Try for two days of strength conditioning per week in addition to cardio.
Keep Track Of Progress
Staying inspired to work out while isolated at home can be hard, especially if you’re used to working out with a partner or in a group. Tracking your progress with a body composition tool can help keep you encouraged and on track with your health goals.
Body fat percentage and muscle tissues are better metrics to track your development than simply counting on your bathroom scale. This is because the scale can’t tell the difference between weight loss from fat vs. loss from hydration status, or worse – loss of lean body mass.
There are many body fat scales out there that can fit almost any budget. Here are a few functions to look for when shopping for one:
Locate a device that tracks the following key measurements:
- Overall weight
- Body fat percentage
- Fat mass
- Muscle mass.
A more accurate device will use both a footplate and a handle, but pick the tool that best suits your budget/needs. Certain devices are linked with an app, making it even less complicated to track your progress over time.
Whether you’re new to working from home or have been at it for some time, there may be no better opportunity than now to establish a healthy work-life balance. This consists of self-care practices in areas of intellectual fitness, nutrition, and exercise.
In case you’re feeling overly stressed or anxious, try out meditation and ensure you’re prioritizing sleep. Plan ahead to make sure you’re consuming a well-balanced diet. And ultimately, aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of activity each week.
For help getting your health on track, contact NuBody today. We specialize in helping people lose weight by focusing on overall health — not just dieting alone. Contact us today to learn more or to get started.