Over the last decade, remote work has become increasingly popular, with advancements in technology making it possible to work from anywhere in the world. While remote work has its benefits, such as flexibility and increased productivity, it also introduces some unique challenges, including difficulty in separating work from home life, limited social interaction, and lack of office amenities like ergonomic chairs and desks. However, with a few adjustments and mindful practices, remote workers can prioritize their wellbeing and health. In this long-form blog, we will delve into some of the best practices to prioritize physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing while working remotely.
Physical wellbeing refers to the physical health of an individual, including their physical fitness, sleep, and diet.
A typical desk job requires employees to sit for extended periods, leading to a sedentary lifestyle. However, creating an ergonomic workstation helps reduce the chances of developing chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain. The followings are some tips for setting up an ergonomic workstation:
- Use a comfortable chair: Invest in an ergonomic chair that provides lumbar support and can be adjusted to your height. A good chair supports the curvature of your spine and aligns your head, neck, and shoulders.
- Position the computer screen correctly: Adjust the screen height to your eye level, ensuring that you don’t have to tilt your neck to view it.
- Use a keyboard and mouse that support your wrists: To avoid wrist strain, use a keyboard and mouse that allow your wrists to stay straight.
Working for extended periods without a break can cause fatigue and stress. Thus, taking regular breaks is essential to help maintain physical wellbeing. Consider scheduling short breaks to stretch, stand up, or take a brisk walk around the house or garden. A change of scenery can revive your body and reduce stress levels. Also, take longer breaks for engaging in physical activities you enjoy, such as yoga or running. Exercise improves cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles, and releases endorphins, which help reduce stress levels.
Sufficient sleep is essential for overall health and wellbeing. A good night’s sleep enables the body to repair and restore muscles, regulate hormones, and strengthen the immune system. However, working at home can mix up work responsibilities with personal life, making it challenging to maintain a sleep routine. It’s essential to prioritize sleep by creating a sleep schedule and a bedtime routine that supports good sleep hygiene.
Mental wellbeing refers to the ability to manage emotions, cope with stress, and maintain a positive outlook. Remote work can be isolating and lead to depression and anxiety. To maintain mental wellbeing, consider the following:
When working remotely, it’s easy to lose track of time and work around the clock, leading to burnout. Consequently, creating physical and temporal boundaries helps you prioritize work-life balance. Establish a designated work area and set specific work hours. By doing so, you can define when work begins and ends, creating balance and reducing the likelihood of overworking.
Maintain Social Connections
Remote work can feel isolating and lead to loneliness. Therefore, maintaining social connections with colleagues, friends, and family is essential. Here are some ways to establish social connections while working from home:
- Schedule virtual lunches or coffee breaks with colleagues.
- Join online communities or groups with shared interests.
- Attend virtual conferences or events.
- Participate in online games or quizzes.
- Join a virtual book club.
Seek Support When Needed
Remote work can be stressful, causing anxiety and depression. Consequently, it’s crucial to seek support when needed. Here are some ways to seek support:
- Contact a mental health professional for counseling or therapy.
- Schedule regular check-ins with a mentor or coach.
- Join a virtual support group.
Emotional wellbeing refers to the ability to manage emotions, remain self-aware, and show empathy towards others. Here are some tips on how to maintain emotional wellbeing while working remotely:
Self-care is essential for overall health and wellbeing. It involves engaging in activities that help you relax, unwind and take care of your mental and emotional health. Consider engaging in activities that help you relax, such as meditation, journaling, practicing yoga, or taking a hot bath.
Practicing gratitude can have a positive impact on emotional wellbeing. Set aside some time to reflect on what you are grateful for, and write them down in a gratitude journal. Consider sharing things you are grateful for with remote colleagues, helping cultivate a work culture of positivity and mutual appreciation.
Stay Engaged in Meaningful Work
Remote work can be monotonous, leading to boredom and disengagement. Therefore, it’s essential to stay engaged in meaningful work to improve emotional wellbeing. Take the time to reflect on meaningful work and ways in which you can use your skills to contribute to a project. Consider taking on new roles and responsibilities, attending virtual conferences, and engaging in personal development activities that help build skills and improve overall productivity.
Challenges of Working Remotely
While there are undoubtedly many benefits to working remotely, such as increased flexibility and improved work-life balance, it also comes with its own set of challenges, which can impact our overall wellbeing. Below are some of the most common challenges of working remotely:
- Social isolation
Working remotely can be a lonely experience, with little opportunity for social interaction with colleagues. This can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection, impacting both our mental and emotional wellbeing.
- Difficulty switching off from work
When your work and home life are so closely intertwined, it can be challenging to switch off from work, leading to overwork and burnout. Establishing clear boundaries between work and personal life can help manage this challenge effectively.
- Lack of ergonomic workstations
In an office setting, we have access to ergonomic chairs, desks, and other amenities that support our physical wellbeing. At home, we may not have access to these resources, leading to musculoskeletal disorders and other chronic health issues.
- Distractions at home
Working from home can make it challenging to stay focused and productive, with distractions such as household chores, family members, or pets vying for your attention.
Strategies for Overcoming Challenges
While working remotely can indeed pose some challenges, there are numerous strategies we can implement to overcome these roadblocks. Below are some of the most effective strategies:
- Keep in touch with colleagues
Maintaining social connections with colleagues is essential for combating feelings of isolation and loneliness. Schedule regular virtual meetings and catch-ups, celebrate successes and milestones together and foster a sense of camaraderie and teamwork.
- Establish clear boundaries
Creating clear boundaries between work and personal life can help us switch off from work and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Set specific start and end times for work, schedule regular breaks and stick to these times as closely as possible.
- Create an ergonomic workspace
Creating an ergonomic workspace is essential for preventing musculoskeletal disorders and other chronic health issues. Invest in an ergonomic chair and desk, adjust your monitor at eye level, use a keyboard and mouse that support your wrists, and take regular breaks to stretch and move your body.
- Minimize distractions
To minimize distractions while working from home, try to create a dedicated workspace free from household distractions, put your phone on silent, close unnecessary applications on your computer, and let others in your household know when you need to focus on work.
Prioritizing our wellbeing while working remotely is essential for maintaining our overall health and productivity. This blog has explored some of the best practices for prioritizing physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, including creating an ergonomic workspace, taking regular breaks, staying connected with colleagues, and managing distractions. While remote work can be challenging, these strategies can help us overcome these challenges and reap the benefits of increased flexibility, improved work-life balance, and reduced stress levels. By adopting a proactive approach towards maintaining our wellbeing, we can thrive in our professional lives and lead a fulfilling life outside of work.