Working from a home office offers flexibility, comfort, and the ability to be more independent while on the clock. While these positives can help with work-life balance and stress levels, there are unique challenges to working from home when it comes to staying healthy. Three areas that come to mind include lack of routine, changes in food options, and decreased activity levels. Let’s look at all three of these challenges and how to make your home office a ‘healthy space.’
Challenge #1: Lack of Routine
Rolling out of bed and getting to work in your home office comes without the routine of getting ready, driving to work, making sure to be on time to punch in, and set lunch and break times. This can make it easy to lose track of meal times and breaks for some movement. It’s important to find a routine that works for you and stick to it. Start your day with breakfast, take a break for a walk, and keep a consistent lunchtime. This will help you to make sure you get meals at regular times which will help with mindless eating or waiting too long between meals and snacks which could set you up for overeating or unhealthy food choices. Lack of routine can also lead to increased snaking. Make sure you are eating only when you are actually hungry, not just because you are bored or procrastinating.
Challenge #2: Changes in Food Options
Even though you are removed from the temptation of the vending machine, the pizza shop next door, or your coworker’s homemade treats, working from home presents a whole new set of unhealthy eating traps. Mindless snacking, ordering delivery, and the lack of routine can all make healthy eating at home difficult.
Stock your kitchen with nourishing, quick grab items that make healthy eating easier. Wash and cut up fruits and vegetables on the weekend to have them ready to go when you want to grab something quickly before your 3 o’clock conference call. Studies have shown that what is visible and easy to grab is what we tend to grab more often. Leave healthy foods at the front of the cabinets and refrigerator so you see them first and place any junk food in less visible spots in the kitchen to make it easier to limit them.
Leftovers, toppings for salads and bagged greens, freezer smoothie bags, and nut butter with whole grain bread make for a quick, healthy lunch at home. Try to avoid the impulse to order delivery by being prepared. Another good idea is to take advantage of working from home for dinner food prep as well. While on a break, use that time to throw a roast or healthy sheet pan dinner in the oven, or start of pot of homemade soup.
Challenge #3: Decreased Activity Levels
Working from home means you aren’t walking the stairs at work, taking those extra steps from the parking lot, or taking a walk with coworkers during your lunch break. There are plenty of opportunities to add in physical activity while you work from home. Try taking a break to walk around the block, do a quick 10-minute YouTube exercise video, or take phone calls while on your home elliptical or treadmill. If you don’t have any exercise equipment at home you can always do another activity while on the phone, such as walking your stairs or stretching. Moving your computer to the kitchen counter where you can work standing up or utilizing a yoga ball instead of your office chair are other ideas to use different muscles and be less sedentary. Research has shown that physical activity can help with productivity and creativity, so don’t feel guilty taking a break to exercise!
While there are positives and negatives to all work environments, there are always opportunities to make any space a ‘healthy space.’ Planning ahead, developing a routine, incorporating movement breaks, and making healthy food available are all ideas to help you stay healthy while you work from home.
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