Health Wellness, Lifestyle

Health Alert: What working from home does to your health

Coronavirus has changed our personal and professional lives dramatically. One very significant change that the pandemic has brought is working from home. While many of you could have only dreamt of a work from home role before 2020, this has become the new professional norm of the new normal.  

While it’s difficult to replicate the social, collaborative environment of a physical office, working from home offers various unique benefits. By working at home, you have eliminated the commute to work. Daily commuting amid the traffic eats up a lot of your precious time. It can also be a major expense. And, think about the current air quality! Working from home is definitely saving you from being exposed to the toxic air pollutants.

Challenges of working from home

Amid these perks of working from home, a harsh ground reality exists where many people are facing unique challenges of working from home, everyday. According to a global survey by Barco, a visualization and collaboration solution provider, work from home became less enjoyable for 77 per cent Indian respondents as lockdown extended, with 49 per cent missing office social life. These work from home challenges have started affecting emotional and physical wellness.

Health effects and best practices for working from home


As the COVID-19 cases in India have begun to surge once again, it is important for all of us to follow social distancing and work from home. However, you must ensure to be aware about how work from home affects your health and best practices to maintain wellness.   

  • Neck and back pain:

The most troublesome health effect that many people have faced is a consistent shoulder, neck, and back pain with work from home. Poor posture or sitting all day in a chair with inadequate back support while you are hunched over your laptop causes stiffening of your muscles and joint, especially in the upper body. Back pain is considered to be the second most common cause of missing work.

What you should do?
Adjust your working chair so your feet rest on the floor and your knees are level with your hips. If your chair doesn’t offer a proper back support, put a pillow or cushion between the curve of your back and the back of your chair. 

  • Deranged lipid levels and weight gain

Working from home has reduced your physical activity drastically. You don’t rush to get the metro or local anymore, don’t get out of your chair for meetings, don’t walk down the stairs to the cafeteria for lunch! Reduced movement leads to increase in bad cholesterol levels and decrease in good cholesterol levels. You also tend to burn less calories. These factors together contribute to unhealthy lipid levels, weight gain, and increased risk of getting diabetes and heart disease. Ensure to get your lipid levels checked on a time to time basis.

What you should do?
The best thing is to take some time out for physical activity. Go for a walk, practice some yoga asanas, or simply, put your earphones on and move around to some groovy music track. However, if it is not possible to have a dedicated time for working out, then make sure to get out of your working area to sip water, have meals, or walk while you are attending phone calls.     

  • Mental health problems

Can working from home cause anxiety and depression? Yes, unfortunately! With the increase in work pressure, no distinguishable mental or physical limit between work and life, and almost zero social connections among colleagues, it is very common to feel anxious, left out and even depressed.
  

What you should do?
It is understandable that virtual catch ups cannot be as fulfilling as the physical ones. However, just remind yourself that we all need to protect ourselves and our loved ones from COVID-19. Arrange and look for new ways to connect and enjoy over virtual catch ups. More important than ever, is to take care of your mental well-being. Set your clock to help you realize when you need to switch from work to life. Also, don’t miss out on your tea and coffee breaks in between work. The short breaks are still useful to increase productivity. Remember, the idea is to not let yourself burn out. Short meditation bouts can also help to relieve stress and anxiety.  

  • Fatigue

Can working from home make you tired? Yes, definitely. The mental pressure that you handle all across the day, does consume calories and gets you tired. Also, with no physical activity, you tend to get more lethargic and fatigued. Over time, you miss out on self-care and get careless about your health. 

What you should do?
Ensure to get up and stretch on your sides, at least 10 reps, every 1-2 hours between work. Join your kid for that park visit in the evening. You can take your calls while walking. Have a clock-out time to avoid overworking yourself. Also, make it a point to schedule a routine health check-up to keep aware of how your body is coping with work from home.

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  • Problems with digestive system

An inactive lifestyle, increased stress, no fixed time for meals, and overconsumption of caffeinated beverages- all lead to an unhealthy gut. It is very common to face acidity, heartburn, and constipation.

What you should do?
First and foremost, time your meals. Don’t make it a habit to skip your breakfast or have lunch at 4 PM. Include fibers in your diet and cut down on processed food and tea/ coffee. Adding probiotics in your daily diet is a good choice as they help good bacteria in your gut to grow and take care of your digestion.
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  • Computer vision syndrome

Prolonged working on laptops, computers, and tablets cause eye discomfort and vision problems. Computer vision syndrome doesn’t refer to any single eye problem, it indicates a whole set of issues, also named as digital eye strain.

What you should do?
Blink your eyes every 20-30 seconds while working on a digital screen. This is a simple way to lubricate your eyes and prevent strain. In addition, make sure your laptop or computer is in level with your eyes. This ensures your eyes do not face an additional stress during long working hours.

The final word
Your health is your real wealth. Remember, working from home might harm your body and mind over time. Follow the above-suggested simple health practices and do not compromise on your wellness while working from home.


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