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Infusing Healthy Habits into your Work (from home) Day

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Working from home offers the opportunity to avoid some of the traditional unhealthy office temptations; such as birthday doughnuts, "thank you” cookies, and the evil snack machines down the hall.  While these no longer tempt me in my home office, I have found there to be some different but still treacherous habits that have led me astray in my desire to be healthy while working from home.  I wanted to capture some of the healthy things I’ve learned to focus on that, so far, have been easy and effective.   Here are the four main areas where I have infused healthier habits into my work (from home) day:


  1. Cute chairs and general aesthetics. I really didn’t think having a good chair was that important when I first began working at home, afterall, everywhere else I had ever worked had just provided me with one (or I sat on the floor). The stylish office chair on sale that matched my office decor seemed like the undeniable choice.  Finally I was picking the perfect adorable chair I had always wanted and it would look good on camera too!  


However, time - plus poor posture - plus poor seating arrangement resulted in severe neck/back pain.  It took 3 visits to a chiropractor to get my T1-T6 back into alignment. Who knew working in an office chair could be so hazardous!


This motivated me to reflect about how important posture and seating alignment is for the kids I see in therapy.  Amazing PTs and OTs I have worked with in the past taught me to consider positioning as an important part of speech therapy. It impacts breath support, use of an assistive technology device, and is crucial with feeding. If I consider positioning for the kids I work with, why wouldn’t I consider the position I’m in while I’m working with them?


The key takeaways for this habit: think about the kind of chair you use (or maybe instead of a chair, use a standing desk), consider how you are lined up with your screen (position the monitor so that you are looking straight ahead), and make sure your keyboard/mouse are at the right height to keep your shoulders back and relaxed.


  1. Rumbly tummies and wholesome refreshments.  Now that I’m working from home, I’ve decided no more doughnut or cookie temptations.  I’ve also had to begrudgingly give up the "social” walk around the office asking for some spare change to feed the vending machine.

While those temptations are gone, I’ve found it important to have healthy snacks and meals prepared in advance of my work day, and almost as important, have them easily accessible from my home work space.  That way, when the hanger pains hit, I can fight the demons with a healthy snack.  Here is my favorite healthy snack No Bake Energy Bites.


For my fellow coffee drinkers, I know how amazing it is to have coffee more readily available for your work day but don’t forget to drink water and set a "no more than” amount of coffee intake. I fill a water bottle and have a predetermined amount as a goal to have finished by the end of my work day.


Regardless of the kind of foods you prefer; if you choose to eat healthier foods, drink plenty of water, and limit processed foods, I promise you will feel better. I’m not advocating for radical diet changes here, just a simple start with one consistent healthy meal or snack that you can easily prepare with some of the "extra” time you enjoy working from home.


  1. Getting up and getting your sweat on.  Making exercise a part of your routine not only reduces stress, but has also been proven to increase productivity. Personally, a gym membership for me is essentially a guarantee that I won’t exercise. I’m already home, why leave?  I do my best when I schedule a quick workout at home, either before I start my workday or in between sessions if I have a longer than anticipated break.


When I want something more than a workout with free weights, I enjoy online streaming workouts to keep me motivated.  My personal favorite is Barre 3 because it is low impact, adapts to all ability levels, and it has both a monthly subscription and/or an App (for those who might be as non-committal as myself).  


I got started with the App, but ultimately subscribed monthly because I found the short workouts so beneficial for squeezing in some cardio as time allowed.  An online workout subscription of any type is a terrific way to break up the day and avoid the afternoon slump.  


Additionally, I keep an exercise ball and hand weights in my home office right beside my desk.  As I feel the need to stretch, work off some stress or just get a sudden burst of energy, I can just pick up a weight or do some crunches.


Simplified, just avoid staying in one position for too long a period, it’s not healthy.  Don’t forget to get up, stretch, and move around a little.

 

  1. Clocking IN so you can clock OUT.  Just as important as posture, food, and exercise, this one guards your mental and emotional health. Remember, just because you work at home, doesn’t mean you’re always at work.


So, I block off work hours to do tasks such as paperwork, respond to professional emails, or just collect my thoughts - and yes, workout.  This has proven to make me more productive and professionally responsive, but most importantly has enabled me to truly be ‘at home’ when I’m not working.


I should clear up that while I consciously strive to be healthy, and to my family’s dismay, often try to "clean up” recipes with some creative substitutions, I’m not a model of health perfection by any means.  I don’t have it all figured out and I don’t always make the healthiest choices. But, I try.  The attempts I have made at infusing healthy habits into my work day have been beneficial, fun, and best of all have kept the donuts away.


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