Working from home – how to stay healthy happy and social

Working from home: the impact

There are so many aspects of remote working that don’t get covered. It’s a new way of doing things that we haven’t had the time to adjust properly.

Working from home impacts every area of your life. And, if you don’t get a proper handle on it, it can become more of a burden than a blessing! 

Perhaps you are a hybrid worker instead. Hybrid workers spend some time in the office and some time working remotely from home. In some ways, this can be even more challenging as your routine is always changing. Plus, there are two environments that you have to learn to work and feel your best within.

No matter your current working style, this article is designed to help you take practical steps towards staying happy, healthy, and social whilst doing remote work.

There are 3 main areas to focus on gaining control, comfort, and wellness within. These are:

  • Taking control of your work
  • Taking control of your mental health
  • Taking control of your physical health

the pyjama problem: Am i living the dream?

Here at Hiyos, we love our pyjamas as much as the next person. However, we’ve noticed that there’s something unfortunate hiding in those comfortable clothes…

It seems like a dream come true to roll out of bed and go to work in your pyjamas. However, it has the potential to cause more harm than help to your mental health.

Sure, it may feel comfortable to sit at your desk in loose-fitting clothes. It might even feel a little rebellious to be doing business while wearing whatever you like!

However, our clothes influence our mindset in very subtle ways.

When we put on our pyjamas, we do it at night when winding down for the evening. Our brain has associated these comfy clothes with going to sleep and ‘switching off’ from working.

So, when you start working in these same clothes, you could constantly be fighting that part of your brain telling you that it’s time to relax and sleep. This can make you less productive in the long run — which ironically means you have to work later and spend less time chilling out in your pyjamas later on!

That’s the Pyjama Problem.

It’s a small example of how the little things about working from home can greatly impact our whole lives. We’ve got to learn to adapt to this new way of work. The first step doesn’t have to be ditching the pyjamas, so let’s explore other ways of taking control of your work.


taking control of your work

Compared to in-office workers, remote employees are more likely than to report feeling stressed at work and find it tricky to maintain a healthy work-life balance, according to a 2019 Airtasker poll of over 1,000 professionals.

This seems a little odd.

Remote working has the potential for people to work on more flexible terms in ways that suit them. It gives more control, so shouldn’t it give a greater sense of calmness?

Yes, it should. However, there are certain ways of doing things that you have to adapt to in order to thrive in this more relaxed environment. Otherwise, your work-life balance may end up becoming even worse!

how to communicate better with your co-workers

When we share space, we frequently don’t realise how often we engage with our coworkers. Maintaining a consistent level of communication is essential for keeping work flowing and avoiding misunderstandings. Always remember to establish and communicate clear expectations that respect you, your time, and your health!

Some of the most effective practical tips that help us are:

  • Pick up the phone a little more frequently than usual. Even if you think everyone already knows how things are going, provide status reports. To exchange status and information, use new channels like Slack or even WhatsApp
  • Make resources that can be shared to ensure that you have everything written down. This makes sharing what you’ve done throughout the day easier, so you won’t have to stress about justifying how you’ve been spending your working hours. Frame your resources into results for an added level of professionalism!
  • Consider having a coffee or a beer through video chat, exactly as you would normally. Even when you’re away, find methods to spend time together by arranging clear social/non-work arrangements. While talking, play a video game. Stay spontaneous and send a photo of your meal!
  • Keep checking in. Set times throughout the day to check emails or other channels of communication. Doing so fosters trust and keeps people informed and up-to-date.

how to set boundaries with your work

Although working from home may seem as if there’s an extra layer of distance between you and your work, with all the new technologies around it may feel like you have to be constantly switched on and plugged in to keep up.

The reality is, no one can or should devote 100% of their attention to work at all times. You have a life beyond the office, so don’t be afraid to set boundaries that separate work from home, even if the two have to live together!

Here are some of the most useful techniques for establishing a work-life boundary:

  • The most productive people take more pauses than you may expect. At least once an hour, get out of your seat. Every few hours, take a longer break and go somewhere other than the refrigerator! Use the Pomodoro technique to help you stick to this
  • Physically mark the start and conclusion of the workday. The goal is to mentally prepare yourself as if you were going to or from work. Go on a ‘walk to work’ and return home as if you were just starting the working day. By starting your day with a flexible ‘commute,’ you can listen to a podcast, read, or simply enjoy your morning coffee.
  • Make a space that is truly yours. Otherwise, life blends into work and work blends into life. Even if it’s only the kitchen table, make sure there’s enough room for your work. It’s great if you have many workstations, much like in the workplace. This should offer a variety of positions and postures, such as a reading area on the sofa and a high table for standing height work. Don’t be afraid. Try something new; a closet or a car may work well for a meeting!
  • When the workday is done, take some time to relax; avoid allowing work stress or duties to seep into your personal life.
  • Plus, don’t ever sacrifice your lunch break! You need fuel! (Check out below where we talk about taking control of your physical health with healthy foods!)

take control of your mental health

Remote work is to thank for a shift in workplace health and satisfaction. That is something we can all agree on.

However, this is only the case for individuals who understand how to work at home in a way that prioritises themselves. Otherwise, things can take a turn and work becomes life and life becomes work, a mindset that is difficult to get out of.

To avoid this imbalance in your life, you must first take care of not just your physical health, but your mental health as well. Let’s start with caring for your mental health.

Mental Health

The most crucial element of working from home is maintaining your mental health. 


There are a bunch of common problems that remote workers face in terms of mental health. For example, you lose out on unexpected encounters and discussions, which may appear trivial at first, but after a couple of weeks of working from home, you’ll be yearning for any human connection.

Other common problems include:

  • They are under huge pressure to work longer hours or hours that they are not used to
  • They have trouble switching off from work because it is available on their computer or laptop all the time
  • Loneliness as a result of no coworkers to converse with in person
  • Isolation as a result of being stranded at home due to lockdowns
  • Extra stress due to a lack of time management skills
  • Depression brought on by a lack of measurable job advancement

These psychological obstacles can be hard to overcome, especially a sense of loneliness if the only voice you’ve heard all day is your own as you chat to your dog or cat!

Start taking small steps immediately, and you will see the results much faster than you think:

  1. The first step to controlling your mental health is to remember that this is a unique scenario, and everything will feel out of the ordinary.
  1. The second step is always to remember to be kind to yourself and accept that you may not be as productive as you usually are. Be realistic about what you can do given the conditions, and unwind once you’ve completed your task.
  1. The third step is to try to stay away from the feeling of guilt. It’s far more difficult to take a break at home than to leave the workplace and stroll around the block. It may feel like a waste of time. But, this step is about acknowledging how taking breaks at home makes you feel.
  1. The fourth step is actually to take those breaks at home. Spending time outside is good for both mental and physical well-being. Even if you didn’t do it at work, this is an opportunity to start a new habit that will benefit your long-term health and performance. Go outside for fresh air and sunlight many times during the day—to the park or just for a walk around the block.

take control of your physical health

At the moment, everyone seems to be talking about ways to help improve your mental health. That’s great. It’s a brilliant sign that people are becoming more open and honest about their feelings in themselves. 

However, we must not forget about our physical well-being too. It’s just as essential to look after your overall physical health as it is to look after your mind.

Posture

When working from home, it’s critical to maintain good posture. So, as tempting as it may seem, this does not mean that you should sit on the sofa with your laptop propped up on your knees. If you don’t have a specific office area, try sitting at a kitchen or dining table.

Your feet should be entirely on the floor, and your seat should be near your desk or table. Maintain a comfortable posture with your elbows at a 90-degree angle slightly above the tabletop.

You may also use a standing desk or a computer monitor that adjusts from a sitting to a standing position. Standing when working, even for an hour, has several health advantages, including increased calorie burn.

Exercise

Stretch regularly throughout the day – one way to remember to do this is to link it to another activity that might function as a reminder (known as habit stacking). Do some stretches while waiting for the kettle to boil, or get up and walk about while making or receiving a phone call.

Put on your gym clothes as soon as you get out of bed to ensure you get some exercise. You’ll discover that being prepared to exercise motivates you to do something physical. When you’re already dressed and have committed to going for a jog over your lunch break, you’ll be much more motivated. If you’re unsure what type of exercise to do, spend some time experimenting to find what you enjoy most. Bupa recommends a 10-minute HIIT workout or some lunchtime yoga as good starting points.

Another option is to utilise the time you would have spent commuting to perform some exercise, whether before or after work. Even a brief stroll might help you get out of your chair and break up your day.

Diet

Working from home might make it difficult to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, but there are certain steps you can take to remain on track.

If you have a habit of reaching for snacks, position them in the cabinet so they are difficult to get or out of sight. If you become hungry in between meals, make it easier to eat healthier foods by having fresh fruit on hand.

Avoid bringing food to your workplace since it may lead to mindless munching and consuming more than you meant. It can also promote unhealthy behaviours like eating lunch in front of your computer.

Instead of eating random items from the fridge or pantry for lunch, use the time to make a healthy meal. You could find it beneficial to schedule your meals ahead of time so that you don’t have to make selections when you’re hungry.

Drinking sufficient water is critical for avoiding dehydration, which can cause constipation and mood changes.

The ideal liquid to consume is water, but modest amounts of coffee and tea are also okay. Sugary beverages, such as sodas, energy drinks, and fruit drinks should be avoided.

Selfcare

Maintaining a consistent waking time and bedtime are important components of self-care since they help with sleep quality. You may become drowsy during the day or have large changes in energy if you don’t do so.

When this happens, the temptation may be to take a long nap in the afternoon if you don’t have any job to accomplish. However, getting outside and going for a quick walk is far more productive. If you need a nap, we recommend taking a 20-minute power nap and setting an alarm for it.

When it comes to self-care and remote work, structure is important.

Many individuals try to cram too much structure into their days.

Making oneself a priority daily, especially when working from home, is what self-care is all about.

Working from home should no longer be viewed as a burden but rather as a chance to care for ourselves.

Come check out our Hiyos Youtube channel to learn more about staying happy, healthy, and social while working from home.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

resources

More Tips –

NHS: Simple tips to tackle working from home

MHFA England: remote working resources

YouTube: Hiyos

Tools –

Slack: your quick start guide

Business Insider: whatsapp guide

Todoist: Pomodoro technique

Exercises and Workouts –

Bupa: HIIT home follow along

NHS: home workout videos

References

  1. BBC: Hybrid work – what the office could look like now
  2. Purewow: What happens when you wear PJs all day?
  3. Wiley: The impact of workplace attire
  4. Airtasker: The benefits of working from home
  5. Stanford Business: Does working from home work?
  6. Emerald Insight: An exploration of the psychological factors affecting remote e‐worker’s job effectiveness, well‐being and work‐life balance
  7. WebMD: The secret and surprising power of naps