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How To Balance Your Health And Remote Work

May 17, 2022 | Personal

lady on a couch working with her cat

Back in 2017, Citrix CEO Kirill Tatarinov predicted that by 2020, 50% of workforces will be composed of telecommuters. Mr. Tatarinov isn’t Nostradamus otherwise, he would have “seen” the pandemic. He simply didn’t ignore the signs that businesses were transitioning toward remote work arrangements in order to reduce costs, increase productivity, and lower attrition levels. 

The pandemic didn’t usher in remote work; it fast-tracked the need for businesses to migrate processes online. Remote work is the New Normal and it’s here to stay. 

Ironically, with the increase in work-from-home arrangements comes a greater need to take care of one’s health.

Why Health Is Important When You Work Remotely

In addition to the importance of securing business operations with Internet-based processes, another important lesson we learned from the pandemic is the value of maintaining, no, improving our health and fitness. 

When you work from home, it’s easy to get distracted by activities that promote leisure and a sedentary lifestyle. The bed or the couch is just a few steps away and who’s going to monitor your Internet activities? The cable TV is in the next room – just a stone’s throw away from the kitchen. 

Staying and working from home might reduce the risk of catching the virus, but what happens when you go out? 

Scientists and doctors warned that the vaccines only served to reduce the damaging effects of COVID-19. They advised people to take the necessary steps to minimize the risks of getting infected by the virus. 

The mandated use of facemasks and face shields, reminders on observing proper hygiene, and the implementation of social distancing were standard features of an infection prevention plan. 

These measures are well and good but they don’t contribute to improving your long-term health and fitness. 

An effective, comprehensive, and sustainable risk management plan must factor in the cornerstones of long-term health and overall wellness:

1. Exercise

The benefits of regular exercise have been studied and documented for decades:

  • Lose weight
  • Burns body fat
  • Build muscle
  • Improves blood circulation
  • Strengthens cardiovascular fitness
  • Lowers risk of injury
  • Improves coordination, mobility, and balance
  • Fortifies immune system
  • Enhances cognition and mental acuity
  • Reduces the risks of acquiring illnesses and diseases
  • Effectively manages the effects of aging 
  • Helps improve mood

You simply cannot ignore these benefits for your health. Studies have shown that people who exercise regularly are not only least likely to get infected by COVID-19 but if they do, their bodies are strong enough to mitigate the severe effects on their health. 

What forms of exercise are best? 

Any form of exercise is better than inactivity but you have to consider your current level of fitness, age, and if you have pre-existing health conditions. We recommend seeing your doctor and getting a comprehensive medical checkup before undertaking an exercise program. 

2. Healthy Eating

During the pandemic, many people put on excess body weight because they used food to cope with boredom and in some cases, depression. 

Now that lockdowns have been lifted and the world slowly adjusts to life in the new normal, there are no excuses. Eating unhealthy food leads to unwanted consequences:

  • Poor cardiovascular health
  • Risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Risk of acquiring illnesses and deadly conditions such as cancer
  • High blood pressure
  • Risk of experiencing a stroke
  • Developing weaker bones and muscles

Taking vitamins and multi-minerals is great but the majority of these products are processed. 

Your body prefers to receive nutrients from natural sources such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean organic meats. Natural sources are easier for the body to process compared to synthetic sources. 

Food contains macronutrients that fuel your body’s functions. Put it this way, would you put diesel in your gas-powered car? You have to feed your body with the right nutrients so you can function at optimal levels. 

3. Sleep/Rest

Sleep is an overlooked component of a comprehensive health and fitness program. Despite the overwhelming body of research, people aren’t prioritizing sleep as they should. 

We’d like to think we’re machines but we’re not. There are entrepreneurs who take pride in putting in 16-hour workdays, 7 days a week. They might be adding to their wealth but they’ll eventually pay for it with their health. 

Sleep is your body’s natural way to rest, recover, and recuperate after a long day. When you don’t get enough sleep, you expose yourself to the following health risks:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression

Lack of sleep will make it harder for you to focus on work. And no, drinking a pot of strong coffee won’t help! It might even affect the quality of your sleep if you’re still having a few cups of your favorite java close to bedtime. 
How many hours of sleep should you aim for every night? The CDC recommends getting at least 7 hours of sleep regularly for those over the age of 18 to safeguard their health.

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4. Stress Management

Stress has been often referred to as the “Silent Killer”. While the title might be more appropriate for a Netflix series, what stress does is create an unhealthy environment in your body that compromises the performance of various systems and the functioning of organs. 

Over time, the accumulation of damage makes you susceptible to acquiring serious illnesses and other life-threatening health conditions. 

Effective stress management requires actions that are physical, mental, and emotional in nature. 

Exercise is a great stress reliever but so are activities such as watching movies with friends, hanging out with the family, listening to music, taking the dog for a walk, or cuddling with your cat if you’re a cat person. 

Meditation and prayer are also proven ways to manage your stress levels. Sometimes, just calling up a trusted friend for a cup of coffee and unburdening yourself of the stressor will do just fine. 

10 Ways You Can Balance Health And Remote Work 

When you had to report to a brick-and-mortar office, it seemed like rush hour started at the time you got out of bed. While having your first cup of coffee, your eyes would be glancing at the dining room clock to make sure you got out of the house before traffic got heavy.

On the way back home, it’s the same thing except that you have to juggle time between errands. You’re constantly on the clock because you want to spend time with your family and have a few hours to relax and unwind. 

With remote work, you’re still on the clock but because you don’t have to deal with the commute, you’ll have a more productive time. Also, you can manage tasks, and collaborate with teammates or co-workers through apps, and there are fewer instances where travel is required. 

Put simply, you have more time to allocate to activities and practices that improve your health without compromising productivity. 

No excuses! 

Here are our top 10 tips on how to balance your health and your remote work lifestyle.

1. Make Time for Exercise

Just like your daily tasks at work, make time for exercise. Pencil it in your calendar or create a reminder in your calendar management app. When you set time for physical activity, you commit to it. 

Exercising in a commercial gym is great but you don’t need a gym membership to stay healthy and fit:

  • Invest in Home Gym Equipment. Set a budget for home gym equipment and dedicate a place inside the home or in the garage to house all of the items. Don’t be afraid to spend because you’ll easily recover the cost. 

With a home gym, you’ll save money on a gym membership, gasoline, parking tickets, food, and drinks. And you can work out anytime you want. 

  • Exercise in the Public Park. Run, walk, or do a few sprints. Visit the monkey bars and do some pull-ups. Perform a few sets of lunges and sit-ups on the park bench. As a plus, you get your daily dose of Vitamin D. 
  • Walk or Bike Around the Village. Just a 20-minute brisk walk or a bike run will do wonders for your health. And while you’re at it, bring the dog with you. 

You don’t have to work out for hours on end to get results. A one-hour workout that combines strength training with cardio will be ideal but if 60-minutes is too long, you can still get healthy with a 30-minute workout. 

2. Plan Your Day the Night Before

You can make your day as a remote worker more productive simply by planning your agenda the night before. 

And yes – include the time for exercise. 

By planning ahead of time, you can identify the tasks that are high priority. Not knowing what to do when you get out of bed is a major time-waster. If your agenda is set, you’ll have more time to prepare yourself mentally for the tough tasks ahead. 

Not only will you be more productive, but you’ll be more accomplished as well. There will be fewer risks of procrastination. 

You can also map out the non-work-related tasks such as your errands. This way, it will be easier to make adjustments to processes so you can factor in variables such as travel time to the grocery store, the bank, or the laundromat.

3. Stop Multitasking – Outsource Work

When someone tells you there isn’t enough time in a day to get things done, he’s probably multitasking too much. 

Don’t focus on the number of things done in a day. Always focus on the quality of the tasks that you have to accomplish. 

To run a business or to perform well as a remote worker, success is determined by your ability to accomplish core functions – activities that contribute to the growth of the enterprise. 

Take a look at your agenda for the day. How many are considered core functions of your business? How many are highly-technical tasks that require specialization and experience? 

Examples of non-core functions are administrative tasks. Social media marketing, content writing, and web development are examples of highly-technical tasks that are important for the growth of a business but require specialized skills. 

You’re better off delegating or outsourcing these tasks to qualified third parties and allocating more time to the activities that you’re knowledgeable about and contribute to your business’s bottom line. 

The keyword is “qualified”. Don’t just delegate these tasks to anyone. Make sure they have the experience and expertise to do an excellent job. 

4. Implement Focus Blocks into Your Daily Routine

By implementing focus blocks in your daily routine, you can accomplish more and still have time for exercise and other activities that will make you healthier and happier.

How do focus blocks work?

  • Pick 3 tasks to accomplish for the day. Choose high ROI tasks – the ones that generate the highest return for your business. 
  • Dedicate 90 minutes per task. You can go up to 120 minutes but once the time is up, that’s it. 
  • After you complete the task in 90-120 minutes, take a 30-minute break. You can exercise, eat, take a nap, or do an errand. 
  • Work on task #2 for the next 90 to 120 minutes.
  • Repeat until you’ve completed task #3. 

All told you’ve only put in six to 7.5 hours of work per day and have put in time for other activities during the time. 

It’s important to note that when you dedicate time to a task, it means giving it 100% focus – no distractions. 

5. Establish Work-Life Boundaries

A simple rule to follow in remote work is:

Once work is done – it’s done. 

That means when you’ve completed what you could given the allotted time, you have to move on. Don’t break this rule by accommodating special requests from co-workers or clients. Sometimes you just have to learn how to say “no” even to a client. 

The same goes for your family members and friends. When it’s time for work, you can’t entertain their time. They have to learn how to respect their boundaries. 

It might be the end of the day but there’s still tomorrow. You’ll have a fresh set of minutes, not to mention a renewed, refreshed, and more focused mindset to get things done. 

6. Create/Join a Community of Like-Minded People

When you’re putting in the hours at work, running after deadlines, and attending various online meetings while fulfilling obligations for the family, the last thing you want is to run on a treadmill or eat a bowl of greens. 

You’d much rather take a nap, watch cable TV or some funny videos, or have a pizza and beers with friends. 

It’s hard to stay committed to an exercise program and a diet plan because these activities take you out of your comfort zone. Having a community of like-minded people around you will help you stay on course because you share the same goals and interests. 

A community also makes exercise more fun. Best of all, your community members will hold each other accountable for their actions. They will motivate you to do better and give you the push to get you going. 

For example, if you enjoy biking, join a community of bike enthusiasts who are also remote workers. Schedule cycling runs every other night and a challenging one on the weekends. 

Set up a Facebook page for the group and share your experiences there. Invite other friends to join and grow your community. 

7. Remove Junk Food From Your Home

They’re called comfort food for a reason but many of them aren’t healthy or good for you. 

Canned goods, chips, candy, soft drinks, chocolate, pretzels, donuts, and cookies are just a few examples of popular processed foods. The reasons why they’ve been processed are to improve taste and to extend their shelf life. 

Processing food means manufacturing them with chemicals, excessive salt, and sugars which can expose your body to health risks such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and some forms of cancer. 

If you don’t have them at home, you won’t be tempted. 

Instead of eating processed foods, opt for healthier organic foods which don’t contain harmful chemicals. Yes, you’ll end up spending a bit more but not as much compared to being confined in a hospital.

8. Strictly Follow Your Sleep Routine 

According to a study by the Sleep Foundation, 40% of Americans have difficulty sleeping. 

If sleeping has become a nightly challenge for you, create a sleep routine and strictly abide by it. 

Here are 8 tips you can consider for your sleep routine:

  • Shut off computers 2 hours before your scheduled bedtime.
  • If you need to relax and unwind, read a book, meditate, or listen to soothing, relaxing music. 
  • Drink calming teas such as chamomile which doesn’t contain caffeine. 
  • Take a warm bath. 
  • Set your bedroom temperature to a level that’s comfortable for you. 
  • Use thick, blackout curtains in your bedroom. 
  • Use a firm pillow that will keep your head aligned with your neck. 
  • Limit your water intake before bedtime. You don’t want to be going to the bathroom every 20 minutes. 

9. Take a Vacation

As a remote worker, you don’t have to use your home as the base of operations. You can work anywhere you want. 

In fact, having the time to see the world is another reason why people decide to become remote workers. They can bring their laptops to places they’ve never seen before. All they need is reliable Internet service at whatever place they decide to work remotely. 

You can consider it a “working vacation”. After completing your three tasks for the day, take a night on the town or take a tour of the must-see attractions in the city. Why not participate in adventure-type activities that will make your heart pound, burn calories, and put a big smile on your face? 

For example, you can ride the rapids in Costa Rica or climb the mountains in Denver, Colorado. 

Conclusion: #10 –  Don’t Take Life Too Seriously

The pandemic created a seismic shift in how we live and work. With change comes uncertainty. Based on how businesses are struggling with “The Great Resignation”, it might take time for some industries to adjust their processes to accommodate remote work arrangements. 

Despite the challenges, keep in mind that the world has always found ways to survive and thrive. As Jeff Goldblum’s character in “Jurassic Park”, Dr. Ian Malcolm says, “Life finds a way”.

Things might be difficult now but as long as you persevere and maintain forward progress, you will succeed. 

So don’t take life too seriously. Put in the hours to your job but don’t neglect your health. And when we say “health”, we don’t mean just physical health. 

Don’t feed negative thoughts with more energy. Minimize contact with people who exhibit toxic behavior. Leave work at the workplace. When you’re with family, be there with your entire being. 

Remote work is an opportunity to capitalize on the availability of life’s most prized asset – time. Find time to exercise and commit to a healthy lifestyle. You want to be at your best when the time comes to enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

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