Health and wellbeing at home

UT Health

Working from home used to be something we all looked forward to if our careers allowed it. It might have been the opportunity to miss the horrendous commute once a week or to be available in that 12-hour slot the delivery company promised you for your new washing machine! Working from home occasionally may have been a novelty but working from home permanently during this period of enforced isolation can bring challenges to your health and wellbeing. Here are five ways of managing your physical and mental wellbeing at home:

  1. Be mindful about what you’re eating and drinking – one of the positive things about being at home is we have all got more time to cook and prepare our food. If you can’t cook, try using that spare time not having to do the long commute to learn! In all seriousness though it will be easy to over-consume food during this period, the fridge is a very short walk away and working from home, especially alone, can lead to boredom which in turn can lead to raiding the biscuit tin.
  1. Keep moving – if you have not been working from home frequently, you may not have a suitable workstation setup to keep you comfortable. Some of us may be working at our kitchen table (exactly where I am now!) or in the garden enjoying this early Spring weather. Muscles can start to feel tight, particularly around the neck and shoulders and that dreaded lower back pain you thought you had under control could resurface. The best advice here is simply to move. Get up, walk around, climb the stairs, go outside for the daily exercise Boris has said we are all allowed to take. Tightness of muscles is often confused with a lack of strength. Muscles lose strength when they are not working and the best way to work them is to move. A stretching, workout, or Yoga routine would help enormously, but as a minimum please keep moving as often as possible.
  1. Involve the whole family – a lot of us will be at home with children, which can bring about additional challenges as we struggle to work and keep them occupied. If you’re preparing healthy and nutritious food, get them involved and use it as an opportunity to teach them the benefits of looking after their health. If you’re working out, get the kids involved. There are hundreds of online workouts involving children of all ages – make them work hard and you might be able to put them to bed a little earlier than usual and get some much-deserved time to yourself!
  1. Take time away from work – we are all a bit anxious at the moment. Some of us may be struggling financially, some of us will be making tough decisions if we are running our own businesses, and not having a definite end date to the situation we are in can create a lot of uncertainly, stress and anxiety. The temptation may be to work all hours and beat yourself up if you are not constantly at your desk. Please remember to take some time away from work and clear your mind. Get up and walk around every 30 minutes, go into the garden and enjoy the sun, do some simple light stretches, take time to play with the children. If you’re anxious before bed, right down a list of the things you are anxious about and your tasks for the next day. Writing lists like this can really help to get things off your mind and ensure a good night sleep.
  1. Keep a routine – when we are working in the office, we are all in a form of routine. We all know exactly (to the minute!) what time we need to leave the house to catch the 8.04am to Birmingham Snow Hill, we all have set times for our food, coffee, workouts, time with kids, walking the dog, and going to bed. This routine is easy to lose at times like this, but it is vital for our body that we keep to it as much as possible. Your body and mind like knowing exactly what is going to happen at exactly what time of the day, in fact it will regulate hormones and chemical reactions based on your routine. Letting this get out of sync can have a real negative impact on how you feel so please try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible.

It is vital that we all look ourselves and others now more than ever. This situation is temporary, stay positive and stay healthy!

Alex Broadbent
UT Health