Working at home gives you great flexibility in your work hours, but like most jobs, it can make it easy to build some unhealthy habits. From sitting at your desk too long each day to having unhealthy snacks readily available, these things can take a toll on your health. Here are some simple habits to add to your day..
1. Work on your snacking habits.
There are a couple of things to consider with your snacking habits – what and how much.
What you snack on may be the more important of the two for many people. Are you snacking on potato chips or carrot chips? Candy or fresh fruit?
Quantity matters too, but it can be harder to overdo it on healthier foods. Let’s approximate a one ounce serving of potato chips as having 152 calories and 10 grams of fat. One ounce is not much of a snack, especially when it comes to potato chips, so you probably aren’t satisfied. When was the last time you ate that little of a package?
Compare that to carrot chips, where a 3 ounce serving is 38 calories. That’s a bigger serving, but a lot fewer calories and no fat.
I don’t count calories in my own diet, but I do try to be generally aware of when I’m making a more or less healthy choice in what I eat.
You can make choices at home to make healthy snacking easier. Have chopped vegetables that you like available in the refrigerator. Keep fresh fruit around. Don’t buy chips or candy too often, so they aren’t in the house and readily available. Unless your resolve is better than mine, temptation will get the better of you too often if you keep unhealthy treats around the house.
2. What are you drinking?
What are you drinking while you work? Coffee’s a fair start to the day, depending on how it’s made. It can be healthy or unhealthy, depending on what you put into it. Coffee can have a variety of health benefits, although you still should not overdo it.
Now, if you head out to the coffee shop and get a blended coffee of some sort, it may not be so good for you. Just think about all the added calories and fat. Some of these drinks can run 500 calories or so, and really add up over time.
Water is generally your best choice. I keep a bottle of water at my side when I work. It’s the simplest way for me to stick to healthier drinking habits. My bottle is insulated so my drink stays cold and doesn’t sweat all over the place. The straw top means even spills are minor if I knock it over accidentally. It helps control what might otherwise be a very bad soda habit – I never developed a taste for coffee or tea, so if I want caffeine, soda is usually my choice. I try to not have it in the house too often because I know I will give in eventually.
3. Take an exercise break.
You should not sit at your desk all day if you can help it. Getting up to deal with the kids isn’t usually exercise, and the interruption doesn’t come at a good time when you’re working. Your exercise breaks should be something that come when the break makes sense.
Think about the kinds of breaks you would have in a job outside the home. 15 minutes every few hours is a nice start. Get away from your desk and take a walk or do a simple exercise routine. A little bit of time being active can have a lot of benefits.
4. Consider a sit/stand desk.
One of the purchases I’m excited about for my new home office is my sit/stand desk. I’ll be receiving it later this month. The price was great, and I will be able to sit or stand throughout the day, which I hope will be good for me. I’m considering a balance board for those times that I can afford the slight distraction, as even a little motion is better for you than standing still.
A standing desk may or may not have health benefits. It may not even be that much better than sitting. Some feel that they are more productive when they’re standing, however. The price I got on my desk was good enough that I feel it is worth a try – I would have had to pay a similar amount to get a good quality desk that I could only sit at. A cheaper desk would no doubt have to be replaced in a few years.
Make sure you understand the ergonomics of using a standing desk. The height of your desk should be set so that your elbows are bent at a 90 degree angle while you work. Too high or too low puts a strain on you body.
You probably should not stand all day at your desk. It’s better to sit part of the day and stand part. Mix it up based on what you’re doing and which works better. And don’t forget to walk around – that’s even better for you.
5. Look at something other than your computer monitor.
Focusing for too long on your computer monitor puts a strain on your eyes. Make sure that you look away periodically throughout the day, and focus on something at a distance. A window in your office can really help with this.
This one is easy to combine with a sit/stand desk, although you can do it regardless of your furniture. Stand up occasionally during your work day and stretch.
7. Take a nap.
This one can be hard to do, but there are benefits. Not only can napping help you relax and feel less fatigued, it can improve your work performance.
You don’t need a long nap. 10-30 minutes can be plenty. Too long may leave you groggy. And if you can’t nap, don’t worry about it – it’s not for everyone.