Many Americans were introduced to the concept of working from home when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Back in March, many thought the remote work experience would only last 6 weeks. We assumed life would then return to normal. However, it’s become obvious that remote work will be a part of many people’s lives for some time. It’s now highly likely that remote work will be a major aspect of the workforce even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over.
How to Maintain Your Physical and Mental Health During Remote Work
Spending the vast majority of your time in your home has many positives. Unfortunately, it presents negatives as well. For remote work to be a positive aspect of life, it’s important to be proactive. It is therefore essential that you take care of both your body and your mind.
Safe and Sensible Physical Activity
Most people know that regular physical activity provides many health benefits. This includes reducing the risk of diseases, helping with weight, and potentially increasing your lifespan. Additionally, exercise can boost mental health. Presently, the pandemic’s social distancing protocols have made many forms of exercise difficult. Many are all but impossible.
In some areas, gyms, fitness centers and other areas of group exercise are open. If this pertains to you, consider whether you are high-risk for complications of COVID-19 before heading out. If you decide to go to the local gym, make sure to properly social distance, wear a mask, and wash your hands frequently. Also, follow any rules and protocols the fitness center is following. Please stay home if you don’t feel well.
Of course, there are many opportunities to achieve physical activity without being indoors or within close proximity to others. Some of these are low-cost and can be done just about anywhere. Running, hiking, bodyweight exercises or walking are prime examples. Other popular activities include swimming, biking, skateboarding or rollerblading. In the winter, skiing and snowshoeing are popular ways to get active, as well as indoor exercise equipment like ellipticals and treadmills.
Just remember to be safe when starting any exercise routine. It’s wise to consult a doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have any health issues. It’s also important to warm-up and cool-down, as well as stop if you experience pain.
Proper Remote Work Office Setup
Unsurprisingly, a record number of Americans are working (or attending school) remotely due to the Coronavirus pandemic. As mentioned, this arrangement has many pros and cons. As remote work becomes a more permanent staple, it is essential to plan for a proper office
Most offices are set up with essentials like ergonomic workstations, large monitors, and other accessories like keyboards and mouse pads. The typical employee does not have these essentials in their home. Poor posture can lead to many issues, such as back pain, slouching, carpal tunnel syndromes and other aches and pains. The risk of these ailments is even higher due to the fact many people have been working from places such as a kitchen table, bed, or couch since the pandemic began. These types of locations are especially bad for your spinal health.
If at all possible, invest in an ergonomic chair and desk for your workstation. If you must, you can use pillows, cushions, books and boxes to create a more ergonomic environment to work in. However, it’s also important you become acquainted with ergonomic best practices and follow them at all times.
Many Americans have been worried about their financial security for a long time, and that number has only increased since the start of the pandemic. Some people were furloughed due to social distancing mandates meant to slow the spread of the virus, and not all of them have returned to their former jobs or pay rate. Others have benefitted from the lack of commuting costs due to work-from-home orders. They may also not be spending on vacations or paying for child-care services. Regardless, the pandemic made many think about their long-term financial plans and how to handle bad financial situations.
Setting up a 529 plan for children or grandchildren can help them (and you) save a significant amount on higher education costs down the road. If you’re saving any money by not commuting to work or going out, consider investing it in a high-yield savings account, or using that money to pay off any high-interest debt you may have. You may also want to take advantage of today’s extremely low interest rates by refinancing your mortgage, or buying a home instead of renting. The money you save here can be used towards building up an emergency fund, giving you some peace of mind in the long-term.
Have a Backup Plan
There are many things you can do to safeguard your mental and physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, sometimes being prepared and making small changes are not enough to get through a stressful time.
Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, support group or family member, especially if you’ve been feeling symptoms of depression or anxiety for more than 2 weeks. Even if you’re not able to visit with others in-person, you could call them, text them, or even use a videoconference service to have virtual get togethers.
Of course, your physical health is also important. Make sure you alert your doctor to any health issues you may be experiencing, as well as keeping current with vaccinations and medications you may need. Even if you don’t feel comfortable with going to the
office, you could request a telehealth visit with a physician. Also, inquire about whether your employer offers an EAP program, which provides many free, confidential services to employees.
Remote work and social distancing are putting Americans under a significant amount of stress. However, it’s unlikely that these precautions are going away anytime soon. This means we need to take active steps to safeguard our health, so we can look forward to better days ahead.
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