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Eight ways to take care of your body while working from home

Working from home is comfortable, but it’s important to look out for your physical health.

Celeste Lim

Yogurt lover with a Spotify playlist for every mood.


Published: 15 February 2021, 12:03 PM

While working from home last year, I developed a pounding headache that lasted for two months. The pain made it difficult for me to focus on my work, and I never left the house, making me feel stressed and dejected all the time.

Even when I reduced stressors in my life and developed a good work-life balance, the throbbing pain in my temples never went away.

When I realised that my head hurt less after meals, I decided to pay more attention to what my body needed. Finally, my head returned to normal again.

 

Very poor posture was another reason for my debilitating headache. PHOTO CREDIT: TWITTER/@LOWKIEMMA

 

While there are many articles on keeping up your mental health while working or studying from home, there is less focus on taking care of your body. 

Here are eight tips for maintaining your physical health while working or studying from home.

1. Bring your screen to eye level

Using your laptop for long hours means you constantly have to tilt your head downward to look at the screen, resulting in stiffness and pain in the neck and back. A survey showed that office workers who use computers heavily are at high risk of developing neck pain. 

When you sit up straight and look forward, your eyes should line up with the top of your screen. This will apply less strain to your neck.

To raise the height of your screen, you can use a laptop stand or desk. Since you’re at home, you can also choose to stack your laptop on a pile of books.

2. Only work at your desk

A huge perk of working from home is the luxury to work anywhere you want. This includes working from the comfort of your bed, usually with your laptop on your lap or on an adjustable bed desk.

However, working while in bed is a bad idea. Since beds are meant to be laid in, they have poor ergonomic support.

 

Doing work from your bed looks comfortable, but you will be propped in an unsuitable position with poor posture. PHOTO CREDIT: ANASTASIIA OSTAPOVYCH VIA UNSPLASH

 

Furthermore, a bed should solely be for you to rest. If you work from your bed, you may subconsciously associate the space with work, leading to difficulty sleeping or poor sleep quality.

Instead, you should only work in a designated area, usually a desk. If you need tips for creating a conducive desk setup while working from home, we’ve got you covered.

3. Don’t skip meals

While working from home, it’s all too easy to forgo lunch. A survey revealed that 41 per cent of people working from home were more likely to work through their lunch breaks.

 

I used to use my hour-long break to play computer games instead of eating lunch. PHOTO CREDIT: GARRETT MORROW VIA UNSPLASH

 

Whether you are working or studying from home, you should never skip lunch as it helps to keep you feeling energetic and productive.

Instead of replacing mealtimes with snacks, set a specific time in the afternoon to take your lunch without any distractions. This will be a great midday boost!

If needed, you can snack on healthy foods like almonds or apple slices throughout the day as well. To make sure you’re not walking to the fridge out of sheer boredom, you can put up a sign on your fridge that says something like “Are you really hungry?”

4. Get up for breaks

Working from home is so comfortable that you may spend the whole day sitting. 

However, leading a sedentary lifestyle comes with many negative effects, including a higher risk of obesity or diabetes.

To get your blood flowing and prevent any blood clots, you should get up every 30 minutes or so. 

Desktop applications such as Awareness help track the activity on your computer, and will remind you to get up after a set period of time. During your break, you can try some short online stretching exercises.

5. Protect your eyes

If you find yourself reaching for eye drops after spending too much time in front of your screen, now may be the time to start taking better care of your eyes.

Firstly, ensure you have sufficient lighting. The sharp contrast from using a computer in the dark leads to eye strain, which could cause pressure behind your eyes.

Try moving closer to a window for a natural light source, or investing in a lamp.

 

If you can hardly be seen during Zoom calls, your working area is likely too dark for you to work productively. PHOTO CREDIT: ALF WILLIAMSEN VIA UNSPLASH

 

Blinking more often also helps to hydrate and clean your eyes. 

You may think blinking is instinctive, but it’s easy for you to forget to blink when focusing on your laptop screen. To remind yourself, you can set a reminder on your phone for every 30 minutes, and spend some time looking into the distance and blinking.

6. Stay hydrated

Drinking enough water is always important, as water is responsible for many of your body’s processes, including maintaining blood pressure and preventing kidney damage.

Considering how hot Singapore is, you’re probably not drinking enough water. (Yes, coffee and bubble tea count, but they are not as hydrating as water.)

If you aren’t fond of water, you can give the drink a refreshing spin by infusing it with some mint, lemon or cucumber.

 

I use the app Plant Nanny to remind myself to drink water. PHOTO CREDIT: GARRETT MORROW VIA UNSPLASH

7. Reduce your screen time

Chances are that you spend a large majority of your time at work looking at your laptop screen. Once work ends and you close your laptop, do you continue to spend the day looking at different screens.

If that sounds like you, you may use your devices too much. Too much screen time leads to eye strain, headaches, and poorer sleep quality. 

If you are constantly looking at a screen, be it your laptop or phone, here are seven tips for reducing the amount of screen time you spend on your devices.

8. Get out of the house often

Without needing to commute to and from the office daily, you might not have left the house at all recently. 

However, some time in nature and with fresh air is always beneficial, as it helps to clear your lungs and lower your blood pressure.

Make sure to get in some exercise as well. You don’t have to do a full-body workout – you can engage in some geocaching or go for spin classes!

 

A simple stroll in your neighbourhood park after work will be good for your body. PHOTO CREDIT: TOBI LAW VIA UNSPLASH

 

Taking care of my body has done wonders for my physical health. With no more frequent headaches, my mental health has significantly improved as well, and I have found that I am a lot more productive in my work.

As most of us are still working from home now, let’s put in the time and effort to take good care of ourselves. 


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