Home office health

How to master known and unexpected pitfalls. So that fitness, a balanced diet and mindfulness don't fall by the wayside.

25.03.2020

Nicole Koch

Suddenly, you're stuck in your home office. The boundaries between work, family and private life are blurred. Closed gyms, canteens and restaurants pose a challenge when it comes to exercising and eating a balanced diet and mean that we have to carefully husband our resources. Our easy-to-follow tips for exercise, nutrition and mindfulness will help you to survive the time spent in your home office in good health.

Exercising in and around the living room

Your radius of movement is limited. How you can still avoid a stiff neck and remain physically fit.

Setting up an ergonomic workplace at home is a challenge, but it’s important to do the best you can.

  • Position your desk so that the light comes from the side - this will avoid light reflecting on the screen.
  • Put your feet flat on the floor. Use a footrest or books to help with this, if necessary.
  • Make sure that the angle of the hip and knee joints is 90°.
  • The angle of the elbow joint should also be 90° when the arms hang loosely. Is the desk a little too high? It may help to put a thick cushion on the chair.
  • When working on a laptop, it’s best to use an external keyboard. This way you can place the laptop on a stack of books. The top edge of the screen should be slightly below eye height.
  • If possible, use an external mouse rather than the laptop’s mouse, and position the mouse close to the keyboard.
  • If you always work with a laptop, make sure that your head is upright. Stretch your neck muscles regularly to avoid tenseness.
    • This will: not only prevent poor posture and overuse, but you will suffer less muscle tenseness, back and neck pain and headaches.

In spite of your best efforts, the ergonomic conditions may not be ideal. It’s therefore essential to take regular breaks to move around. Change your sitting position and stand up regularly, for example when you’re talking on the phone. You will find preventive exercises in the Helsana Coach app under “Mobility” and exercises to relieve tension under “Relaxation”.

  • This will: sharpen your attention, recharge your batteries and help you to remain focused. You will also suffer from less tension and pain.

Regularly do strength exercises. You can find examples in the Helsana Coach app or on YouTube, for many of which you don't need any additional equipment. Make sure that you do the exercises correctly, for example by watching yourself in a mirror, and don't exercise just one side of your body. If you need company: arrange a fitness video call with your friends or family members.

  • This will: build up your muscles, making for a better posture and ensuring more core and joint stability. It will also increase your bone density and strengthen your psyche.

Endurance training at home is tricky, but still possible. Use the stairs or a jump rope, or dance around the living room. The Helsana Coach app has various options under “Endurance”.

  • This will: have a positive effect on your cardiovascular system as well as vegetative functions such as digestion and sleeping. It will also improve your metabolism, speed up your energy turnover and enhance your mood.

When you work in your home office, you go outside less often. It’s therefore important to regularly air the rooms. Take a break or make a call from the balcony or while standing in front of an open window.

  • This will: supply you with more oxygen to improve your concentration and strengthen your immune system.

No canteens and restaurants for eating out

Going out for meals is impossible. What should you remember if you want to stay productive in your home office?

Eat a balanced diet rich in vitamins. The Helsana Coach app offers the know-how you need Also read the tips for a balanced diet in our blog article. Do you want to know if you're already eating a balanced diet? Then do the test.

  • This will: enhance your physical and mental well-being and prevent illness, both of which will strengthen your immune system.

Take the time to cook for yourself. Don’t rely on ready-to-serve meals. The Helsana Coach app has healthy recipes that don't take long to make. Plan ahead so that you don't have to go shopping every day. If you don't have all the ingredients, let your imagination run wild and focus on the optimised meal plan. If you have children, let them help you with the cooking.

  • This will: ensure that you consume a lot of healthy, fibre-rich food, vitamins and minerals. Conscious enjoyment will also make you more appreciative of your food.

When working in the home office in the immediate vicinity of the fridge, it's more important than ever to discipline your eating habits. Are you really hungry, or do you simply feel that you deserve a “reward”? Maybe breaking for some exercise would be better? If you're really hungry, combine seasonal fruit or veggies with carbs such as bread, dairy products or nuts. Analyse your eating habits.

  • This will: ensure that in-between snacks keep you satisfied, support your ability to concentrate and keep ravenous hunger at bay thanks to constant blood sugar levels.

Drink enough – ideally around 1.5 litres of water or unsweetened tea. Because it’s much quicker to get to and from your home office, it is worth your while to only take a water glass to your desk. This way you’ll have to get up more often to pour some water.

  • This will: improve your ability to concentrate and perform, and prevent headaches and fatigue.

Mindfulness for more inner calm

The coffee break is no more, and the boundaries between the workplace and home also disappear. How can you still create small pockets of quiet time in your working day?

Use the extra time to start the day on a relaxed note. For example with a mindfulness programme from the Helsana Coach app.

  • This will: give you more inner calm, composure and balance. It will also strengthen your immune system and sharpen your attention.

Social distancing refers to physical distance. Talking to people by e-mail, phone or video call is still possible and very important. Make a date for an online coffee chat or for short sporting sessions.

  • This will: strengthen your mental health and improve your well-being. Fellowship is also an effective buffer to stress.

Devote your free time after work to old or new hobbies: singing, painting, reading or juggling is a good change from the workday and will challenge different areas of your brain.

  • This will: expand your horizon. Learning new things helps to keep the mind and psyche fit.

As there is no physical separation between the office and private life any more, the setting of boundaries and self-discipline are all the more important. Make a deliberate distinction between work and leisure time, and schedule breaks in your diary.

  • This will: prevent exhaustion, improve your ability to perform and enhance your well-being. It will also improve your physical and mental health.

Change is something that preoccupies us. The switch to a home office is a physical as well as a mental challenge. Restful sleep is therefore very important. Maybe you can use the new situation to get to know your personal biorhythm better? The article “Tips for improved sleep” contains helpful information in this regard.

  • This will: regenerate your body and your mind. Sleeping also strengthens our immune system and promotes creative thinking processes.

There's no personal feedback and non-verbal communication in the home office. Give digital feedback and show your appreciation at a distance. Continue to exchange ideas and discuss sensitive topics by video call instead of e-mail in order to prevent misunderstandings.

  • This will: confirm that positive feedback is good for your health and performance. It will increase motivation, ensure a good working climate, and create proximity.

Digital communication is now more important than ever before. But does your mobile phone really have to be with you all the time? Maybe you can create little pockets of time during the day when you're not distracted by the phone? It's also a good idea to deliberately gain distance from impressions, news and bustle after work.

  • This will: help you slow down by deliberately switching off. This recovery break will benefit body, mind and soul.

In spite of all the restrictions, the home office has many advantages that should be exploited and appreciated. You can structure your working day with more flexibility, for instance, and work with less interruptions. Consciously focus on the positive aspects and give yourself some space.

  • This will: improve your quality of life, as positive thoughts make you happier, more relaxed and more satisfied.

In the home office it’s also more important to protect yourself and to take care of your physical and mental health. The following questions can help you here:

  • What can I do to ensure that my working conditions are good?
  • How can I distance myself from my work?
  • How do I relax during my leisure time?

Disclaimer

The information on health topics listed here is general advice and is provided for information purposes only. It is not intended to replace any medical advice. If you have health problems, you should always seek advice from a doctor or health care professional.

Movement expert Evelyne Dürr Movement expert Evelyne Dürr

Movement expert Evelyne Dürr

Evelyne Dürr (MSc ETH Human Movement Sciences) has been working at Helsana since 2014. As an expert in health management, she is involved in the areas of prevention and health promotion for customers. Evelyne Dürr was on hand to advise and support the editorial team for this article.

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