No matter what your WFH set-up currently looks like, there’s always room for improvement to maximise your mental and physical health.
The key to a successful home office isn’t just about the equipment. Rather, it’s important to focus on a holistic mind and body view of your WFH setup – how can you maximise your mental and physical health so as to boost your productivity and reduce the risk of work-related pain?
Thankfully, Osteopath Fiona Hooper has all the advice you need to ensure that your home office is a healthy space for you to thrive in. Read on for her outside-of-the-box tips…
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Find your support hub
Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to be socially disconnected. Whilst WHS often focuses on physical safety, I believe a healthy mind is the priority right now. You can still sit poorly at the world’s most ergonomic set up – because how well you hold your body is a reflection of your underlying mental condition.
There are so many online support options as a result of COVID-19 that this in itself can be overwhelming. Try picking a colleague, friend or intimate group of friends to become your support hub for venting and seeking advice. You’ll feel supported and each person can contribute useful tools during this time, rather than feeling like you have to do it all on your own.
Focus on movement, rather than finding the ‘perfect posture’
A lot of us are still working from bed (guilty) or the couch in less-than-ideal postures – so let’s rid ourselves of guilt for not sitting like the robots we see in WHS diagrams. The truth is that there is no perfect work posture, because the best posture is one that is constantly moving.
Focus on fitness to provide you with a well-conditioned, robust body that will be able withstand those less-than-ideal WFH postures. Yes, we may not be able to attend our usual spin, HIIT, or barre classes, but online platforms are doing a fantastic job of keeping us active – in fact, Google has seen ‘home workout’ searches in Australia triple since the start of March.
This is the perfect opportunity to cross train for a little while, try something you’ve been too intimidated to try in person (bar-re fellas??) or join classes with friends that live in other towns.
body+soul recommends: Try out body+soul LIVE @ home; a 14-day schedule of exclusive (and free!) online workouts for your body, and mind.
Design your ideal space
Wallpaper, plants, mood boards… what an opportunity to create the work space you’ve always wanted ! A happy vibe will improve productivity, motivation and overall state of mind – and at the end of the day, happiness can help reduce pain. It’s important to be able to log on and off purposefully to separate your work and home life. A spare room is ideal, but not always possible – in which case even a separate workspace at the end of your dining table is a solution.
I’m also a fan of transforming closets into offices as you can close the door on it all when the work day is over. Pinterest has some great ideas and I’m sure the tax office will approve some of the ‘equipment’ needed to work from home right now!
Plants are also ideal as they brighten up a space and ensure quality airflow (and you can now get plenty delivered to your door). If you can, work in natural light to increase productivity and avoid computer-induced eye strain or headaches.
body+soul recommends: Visualise your to-do list with a memo board like this brass-coloured one from IKEA ($14.99). Or, support freelance artists with an inspirational print ($49.99 from Society6) or calming patterned wallpaper ($49-$129 from Society6) to add some art to your space. Brighten things up with a beautiful potted Monstera ($83.99 from Adairs) or Fiddle Leaf Fig ($34.99 from Adairs) that can be delievered straight to your door!
Don’t ditch routine
Many of us are creatures of habit, so the sudden change in our day-to-day has upset the careful routines we’ve crafted. Ease yourself into a new schedule, starting with setting daily goals so you can log off with a sense of achievement at the end of the day. And don’t forget to plan the next day before you log off so you can jump right in tomorrow morning.
Continue to prep your lunch as if you were still travelling to the office. Increasing trips to the fridge might keep you moving, but boredom eating is not ideal for your joints, focus, muscles, gut or even back pain. Prep a healthy and nutritious lunch and snacks in the morning so you can stay focused and pain-free throughout the day.
Schedule a live lunchtime yoga class
The MINDBODY app has many businesses offering online sessions from all over the country – so why not schedule one as a lunchtime session with your workmates? When you’re eventually back at work, you can introduce it into your lunch break to add some movement into your day.
Alternately, allocate your usual travel time to yoga, and make this your new normal. Your mind and body will love you for it!
body+soul recommends: This fun printed Sports Bra ($66.99) and Full Length Tights ($117.99) from Lorna Jane make for the perfect workout ‘fit. Plus, find your balance in every pose with this non-slip eco-friendly one from Myer ($109).
Be mindful of the sudden influx of ‘ergonomic’ products
Split keyboards. Futuristic chairs. Alien-like mice. Electrical devices that vibrate when you slouch, which seem more like something you’d use for your dog.
These whiz-bang and often expensive products promise a healthier, more comfortable work life – but in fact many are unregulated or lacking in evidence to support their claims.
Even if your desk setup is optimised with high-end products to the point of perfection, that unavoidable prolonged sitting will still wreak havoc on your body. You can make effective modifications with what’s already at home – like using books to raise your computer screen to eye height.
Try to maintain your working social calendar
Keep your mind happy by getting creative as you simulate your regular office social events. Create a fun-filled roster with your regular colleagues, friends, or home colleagues (even if it’s your parents or kids!). Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Themed Thursdays – disco, 90s, movie characters …
- 10 burpees every time you go to the fridge – it will make you work for your snacks!
- Virtual group yoga class – get moving!
- Lunch time online date – whether it’s with your work wife or significant other.
- Take a virtual coffee break so you can still catch up on the office goss.
- Pants-off Friday – or if you want to be more work-appropriate, challenge your group to wear their craziest bottoms (I’m thinking boardshorts, Christmas jammies…)
- Virtual drinks after work – and get dressed up for it!
- Host a ‘best WFH space’ competition, with the most creative setup winning a prize.
- Screen time competition – the person with the most amount each day has to do 10 push-ups!
- Kris Kringle – buy online vouchers to their fave stores.
b+s suggests: Looking for online vouchers? Sephora is perfect for beauty lovers, Cotton On for lovers of cute clothes or stationery, Parachute for homeware aficionados and Catch.com.au is ideal for everyone else!