Wellbeing when working from home
Working from home certainly has its advantages but there can be downsides when it comes to being more sedentary which can have long-lasting adverse health effects.
A survey conducted by Healthdirect Australia showed Australians sent home to work during COVID-19 last year reported moving around much less during the day.
In fact, almost half (44 per cent) of those surveyed said they exercised less than they did before the national lockdown started in March 2020 and 39 per cent were eating and snacking more often when working from home.
The survey showed millions of Australians were missing out on the benefits of the incidental exercise involved in getting to, from and around the workplace.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) says insufficient physical activity is a key contributor to disease burden in Australia, responsible for 10 to 20 per cent of the individual disease burden from diabetes, bowel cancer, uterine cancer, dementia, breast cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke.
As flexible working arrangements become more embedded and embraced in 2021, and we experience further lockdowns, it has never been more important to implement strategies to keep moving and make time for healthy activities that help prevent chronic illnesses.
Healthdirect offers the following tips for maintaining your health and wellbeing when working from home:
• Set up your home desk properly — the survey found that 40 per cent of people working from home experienced shoulder, back and/or neck pain they didn’t previously suffer in their work environment
• Get up every hour — move around, stretch or go for a walk
• Set yourself an exercise goal for each day
• Set daily activity reminders when you work from home and try to replicate the physical activity you did pre-COVID-19 — go for a short walk morning and evening to imitate walking to and from the bus or train station
• See your GP- if you’re worried about your health and need to see your doctor don’t put it off.
Keeping active is not only important for physical health but also for our mental health.
Offering advice on the Beyond Blue website regarding working from home, psychologist Sabina Read says setting specific times for our daily rituals – exercise, meals, social connection, sleep, entertainment – is a great place to start in making the working from home experience a healthy and positive one.
“For some people, the process of putting on work clothes and doing hair or makeup, even if you’re sitting at your kitchen table, is an important way to symbolise that I’m going to work in the way that I traditionally do,” she says.
“It creates a starting point and the mindset that I’m at work.
“But for others, they’ll feel more productive in their Ugg boots and trackies so there is no cookie cutter approach.
“It’s up to the individual to think, what are those touch points throughout my day that have been most useful to me?”