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Must-have self-care for tips remote workers

Work from home, a relatively new landscape for a large portion of the United State's white collar workers, has massively changed the way we do work. For one, not commuting in traffic is blissful. Less formal, restricting clothes are so freeing. But, with each perk is a pitfall, many of which I suspect you'll be familiar with.

Many people have been working from home for over a year now but my anecdotal research shows that a good percentage of people still haven't invested in a permanent setup. Perhaps they enjoy working from a bed and not a chair or they just fear they'll be required to report to their cubicle once more as the country reopens.

It's easy to get stuck in a rut in this new telecommute world. If you're losing yourself as you stop doing a morning routine, slack off in your exercise regimen and indulge in one too many junk foods, you're not alone. However you don't have to be a genius or guru to implement positive changes in your life.

In fact, there are a few basic but very important self-care tips every remote worker should consider to take care of themselves in the best ways possible.

1. Ergonomics matter

I never truly grasped the value of ergonomics, which is the study of people's efficiency in their working environment, until I no longer had this kind of balance in my home office setup. That's probably because I didn't have a home office, or even a desk, for months when I first started working from home. Let me tell you, my body felt the ramifications.

You don't have to have a professional come and conduct an ergonomic assessment on you, although if you can you might as well, to improve your space. A more practical and economic solution is to get up to speed on ergonomic basics to help inform the office equipment investments you need.

You ergonomic workstation should accomplish a few things:

  • Reduced stress on your neck, shoulders, wrists and back

  • Reduce finger and joint pain

  • Reduce numbness in fingers and toes

All of these things are accomplished by adjusting chair heights, maneuvering arm rests, using wrists pads for keyboards and mouses, adjusting the height of your laptop or desktop, enlarging the size of text on your screen, moving things closer or farther away on your desk, and such much more. The New York Times published a very helpful guide on this very thing.

2. Get up and play an hour a day

So don't take this literally, although if you want to exercise for an hour good for you! The point is that you should move your body throughout the day rather than staying in one place for long periods of time. The same was true for people working at a desk in an office building, but now the danger of staying parked on your comfortable bed or couch is much higher for teleworkers.

I happen to be fidgety and don't like to stay in one place for very long. If that's not you, don't beat yourself up about it though. The key to being more active and giving your body a break from sitting down is to integrate motion into your everyday routine.

When you need a brain rest, use that time to move your body in some way. Take a walk. Do stretches. Garden for a bit. While it may take some getting used to, your body and mind will begin to respond very positively to these short bursts of movement. The more you expend energy, the more energy you'll have.

3. Home is home and work is work

I very much struggle to remember that there's a difference between working at home and living at work. Unfortunately, it's all too easy for me to slump into a living at work mode that impacts my psyche.

While not possible for everyone, having a space or room that is a dedicated work space and is segregated from the rest of your living space can be very beneficial. If you can't create a physical barrier from your home and work spaces, then find hobbies or activities unrelated to work that can help take your mind off of your 9-5.

This mental separation can be whatever you want. Your latest TV show obsession, paint by numbers, gardening, dog walking, playing an instrument or leisurely walks around the neighborhood. The actual activity isn't what matters. Rather, the fact that the activity wholly shifts your focus away from work is what's most important.

3. Socialize

Working from home creates an interesting dynamic for people depending on where they fall on the extroverted-introverted spectrum. Extroverts tend to find people to connect with regardless of their at-home work situation but may struggle with solitude during the work day.

Introverts however, are likely reveling in the peace and quiet afforded to them. However, socialization and human interaction are vital to all humans' wellbeing, regardless of how outgoing they are. Connecting with people, especially work colleagues, is important to build trust, collaborate and communicate effectively with each other.

Take the time to plan get-togethers with friends and family. Reach out to coworkers to get to know them outside of scheduled meetings. Participate in group exercise classes. Join a book club. Again, the activity or group itself isn't the important thing to focus on. Just find your people and spend quality time with them.

4. Don't let hygiene go by the wayside

Work from home has definitely made things more casual, at least for me and my team. The thing is, casual doesn't mean unkept.

There's great value in putting in effort to get dressed, shave/wax, brush your teeth and other maintenance things we wouldn't dare neglect before the world shut down. All of those things keep us looking, and feeling, fresh.

Plus, looking good on virtual meetings is never bad thing.

5. Routine = success

Most people had a morning routine before the pandemic, but work from home seems to have thrown those out the window. Now, it's time to get back to those.

According to Northwestern Health, having a daily routine promotes healthy habits and overall wellbeing. Routines help avoid stress, poor sleep and eating, poor physical strength and ineffective uses of time.

Reports also show that a large number of American adults have experienced chronic stress and anxiety throughout the pandemic. Reducing stress whenever possible is vital for your mental health with outside stressors like job insecurity, sweeping changes requiring adaptability, increased isolation and health concerns looming over.


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