Trying to keep active and healthy during lock-down is proving to be challenging as the spread of the novel Coronavirus has now reached every corner of the globe, including Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas resulting in many people across the world being directed to begin working from home in the largest mandatory change in work direction since the second world war. 

If you had asked most businesses if it was possible for them to switch to a work from home platform, the majority would have no doubt told you such a change was impossible and would result in mass firings and countless businesses going under due to lack of constant management oversight and inadequate infrastructure. Yet here we are just a month or two later and countless millions across the world have joined the existing 1.5 million that currently work from home in the UK. 

Of the millions of new employees that are now remotely working, only a small fraction of those have the experience and knowledge of how to successfully balance your home based work demands and the need for an active and healthy lifestyle. Those of us at UpdraftPlus have also had to adapt to the full-time ‘at-home’ working experience currently recommended, with our Monday morning video conference chats becoming an important factor in maintaining important working relationships and giving everyone a chance to catch up with colleagues, while sharing their latest work and developments. 

While maintaining social interaction with colleagues during the lock-down is important, the challenge to keep active and healthy (both mentally and physically) while balancing the demands of our new work/life schedule during this time is something we all need to address, especially given the restrictions imposed on going outside unless absolutely necessary. 

Following on from our recent blog: WordPress community: Helping to provide services online for people in isolation, there are a few simple ways to make the best of a bad situation and we are happy to share with you some of the tips and tricks we have been following in order to make the best of this difficult and challenging time.

  1. Keep work separate

While this may not seem like an obvious ‘health-tip’, it is important to identify when you are actually at work, even when at home. This will play a massive part in your overall health and well-being (not to mention quality of work) while stuck in the house. It can be tempting to blur the lines between personal and work life when they occur in the same building, so it is important to try and follow something broadly familiar to your normal working patterns and routine. Stick to a regular start and finish time, wear appropriate work clothes (no pajamas!), follow the same hygiene pattern you would as if you were going to your office (shower, shave etc) and create a suitable home office environment so you are not distracted by family, pets or the TV. 

  1. Have a proper home office set-up

The thought of working from home probably brings up images of slouching on the sofa in front of the TV with a lap-top, and while this may sound appealing, it could cause some serious problems with your health. The lack of proper lumbar support, constantly slouching and looking down at your screen can cause serious neck and back problems if you are not careful. This is why it is highly recommended that you have a dedicated home office space from which to work, an office chair with lumbar support, a monitor properly adjusted to your eye level and a traditional separate mouse/keyboard (not a track-pad) to use. 

  1. Try to avoid being too isolated

While governments all over the world are recommending social distancing as a way to slow down the spread of the virus, for people who are used to the hustle and bustle of a busy office in which they interact with people all day, this can be very challenging. To counteract the enforced isolation, try to physically talk to someone on the phone or via video conferencing at least once a day if possible. You can also undertake personal social interactions remotely by having a group Netflix viewing party with your friends. Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension that allows a single person to share a video with friends, allowing you and all your invited friends to binge watch Tiger King together. 

  1. Watch what you eat and drink

With the confines of a traditional office, you are somewhat limited to what you can eat or drink during a working day. The fact that the canteen is at the other end of the building or a neighbouring office has stolen your milk again probably limits what you consumed while in work. When working from home however, these issues are out the window. Unlimited cups of tea, toast, sandwiches and snacks and just a walk to the kitchen away. To limit your excess consumption, make a list of what you would normally consume during a regular working day and try to stick to the same pattern when working from home. With all the extra food available combined with an increased sedentary lifestyle, the risk of putting on weight (which could lead to health problems) is very real. If you do find yourself consuming more, try purchasing fat free or diet options the next time you go shopping.

  1. Get as much exercise as you can

This may sound like the most obvious advice, but with an effective lock-down essentially in place, the options and opportunities to stretch your legs and go outside have become incredibly limited. With all the gyms closed and Police being somewhat overzealous with what constitutes an acceptable reason to go out and exercise, home workers are having to look elsewhere for their daily fix of endorphins. 

All is not lost however. With just a yoga mat and a YouTube link, a whole world of possibilities can open up for those stuck inside. Consider trying a high intensity work-out from professional exercise instructors such as The Body Coach, who have generously put videos online for free. 

If that is not your speed, you could take a leaf out of a book from people who have no choice but to exercise with limited space and follow the tried and tested ‘jail-house’ exercise regime of push-ups, sit-ups, squats and planks. Remember to start slow and slowly build you way up though as the last thing you want to do right now is to go to hospital due to a pulled muscle or a head injury from over enthusiastic jumping jacks. If you are not able to undertake these kinds of exercises, at the very least remember to get up and walk around for at least 5 minutes every hour.  

In summary

While the dangers presented by the COVID-19 virus have rightly confined us to our homes and out of our offices for the foreseeable future, it is important to remember that the dangers to our health come not just from this virus, but from the new (for many) and unfamiliar working environment most of us now find ourselves in. 

Without proper consideration of our health and well-being (both body and mind), we could risk becoming overweight, depressed and anxious. Be sure to create and set up a work schedule and exercise plan to see you through the lock-down in order to give you a better and happier work from home experience. 

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