Who hasn’t dreamed of working from home? There’s no commute, you get to hang out in your jammies all day, and the kitchen is right there for convenient snacking. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, that dream has come true for many. However, folks are now learning that even an at-home gig comes with some health pitfalls. Let’s take a look at a few of the risks, and how to address them.
Burnout and Overworking
Since there’s no train to catch, it’s easy to work well into the evening. After a few weeks, this can lead to burnout, especially if you’re doing something creative like writing or graphic design. Eventually, you use up the creative juices and you need a few days of sitting in front of the TV to recover. To combat burnout, make a schedule that includes stopping work each day at a certain time. Don’t talk yourself into “one more project” when it’s already 9 pm at night.
Overeating and Weight Gain
One of the great things about the kitchen being right there is that, well, the kitchen is right there. It’s easy to snack all day or take a few lunch breaks. After all, it’s not like anyone is checking up on you to see that you’ve stopped eating. Over time, as mindless eating combines with a lack of exercise, you might find yourself packing on the pounds. Consider scheduling meal and snack times. And try to buy healthy snacks. Raw carrots and celery are great to keep around instead of M&Ms and potato chips.
Back and Neck pain
Bad posture? Constantly looking down at your phone or computer? If your neck and back aren’t aching yet, it’s only a matter of time. That’s because laptops, while portable and efficient, force you to either hunch forward all day or place your hands in an uncomfortably high position.
Give your muscles a break every hour or so by getting up and walking around. Since you’re at home, you can even try some yoga positions for a few minutes before resuming work.
For certain introverts, working at home is a blessing and a relief from all the human interaction at the office. But most people are not like that. Loneliness is a serious problem for many remote workers, and this mental stress can lead to depression. What’s more, many people trick themselves into thinking they’ve had human interaction by frittering away time on social media. But it’s not the same. Actual human contact is a basic human need. While it is difficult to get face-to-face time with others, it’s a good idea to reach out to friends to chat about something other than work at least once a day. If you’re sick of video chatting, a good old-fashioned phone call will do the trick.
Insomnia or Irregular Sleep
Staring at a computer screen all day means exposing yourself to high levels of blue light. This can end up disrupting your sleep, causing you to toss and turn or even experience insomnia. If you must work on a computer all day, turn all your screens to night mode. This decreases the blue light from your monitor, putting less strain on your eyes. About an hour before bedtime, begin to “power down” by turning off all electronics. This will give your brain a head start on the whole “falling asleep” thing.