Coronavirus, COVID-19, social distancing … all words that are now part of our everyday life. And because of them, working at home is something that has become our new normal.
If you would have told me back in January when we rang in the new year that I’d be doing a radio morning show from my home office, I would not have believed you. How could we do a radio show from home. But guess what? WE ARE!
COVID-19 has totally changed our lives and many of us are at home, almost all the time. The good news is there are ways to navigate spending so much time at home, from setting up a healthy home office to exercising by yourself or with kids, and more. To learn out more about staying healthy during quarantine and how to make the most of being at home, I spoke (virtually) with Monica Sullivan, MD, from The Christ Hospital Physicians - Primary Care.
How do I set up a healthy home office?
Dr. Sullivan: Working from home can be an exciting and challenging task. Here are some tips to set up a healthy space that will set you up for success.
First, it’s important to make a schedule and stick to it. This sets the expectations for yourself and others in your home that although you might not have to go out, there are still obligations to take care of.
It’s also important to find a space that is separate from your normal home activities. Somewhere quiet, comfortable, and with natural light is a good choice. Make this space your own by having a tabletop or desk area that is free of clutter. Even including a picture, plant, and space for your mug or water bottle helps keep things organized! Once you have your space set up, make sure you have the right chair or standing desk. Posture and comfort are important, and having the wrong chair can hurt your back.
Now that your workspace is ready to go, it’s important to limit distractions. Avoid having technological devices around that aren’t dedicated to work tasks. Even taping a sign on the door or wall that indicates when you’re working can help minimize interruptions from others in your home.
Since maintaining a clean space is especially important at the moment, try to stash some cleaning wipes at your desk and use them before you start working and after you finish up. Your health is the top priority!
What are some ways I can stay active when working from home?
Dr. Sullivan: As part of your daily schedule, make sure to add in brief times for some activity. Even 5-10 minutes of activity a couple of times a day while in the office area and 15-20 minutes in the evening with family or pets can have an impact.
Exercise breaks should be every 2-3 hours depending on your work schedule. Refilling beverages, grabbing a snack, a restroom break, or brief stretching can be done during this time. Make sure to set a 5-10 minute timer so that breaks have a beginning and an end and keep you on task.
Believe it or not, desk exercises are quick, easy, and quite helpful in stretching and improving range of motion. Here are a few you can try out:
- Chair squat – Stand six inches in front of your chair, stretch your arms out in front of you and squat until your butt touches the edge of the chair.
- Desk push up – Place your palms down on your desk, stretch your body out to a 45 degree angle, put feet together, and push up. Repeat.
- Triceps desk dips – Face away from your desk, place your hands on either side of you on your desk, step away from the desk, feet firmly planted, bend and straighten arms at 90 degrees. Repeat.
- Wall sits – Stand against the wall, squat to 90 degree angle, slide back up and repeat.
- Chair push up – While seated stretch out your legs and cross them. Then raise yourself up out of your chair by lifting up off the armrests, float for 10-20 seconds.
What are some ways I can exercise with children?
Dr. Sullivan: Being home and having work/life balance is extremely important both for you and your family. Kids love being included in the lives of their parents and siblings.
By setting aside dedicated time for exercise with your child they feel secure, included, and less likely to cause interruptions during the day as they know they will have dedicated time once work is complete.
Walks are wonderful exercise, but including other activities will help mix things up a bit. Try incorporating jump rope, games like “red rover,” “red light, green light,” and “Simon says” – which work for all ages.
Chalk mazes on the driveway or hop scotch squares can be a good change of pace, and setting up a scavenger hunt is always exciting for parents and children both! Finally, it’s a good time to reinforce safety measures for activities like biking or riding a scooter. Take the children through the neighborhood and help them understand the signs that are put in place for everyone’s well-being.
Children of all ages love to be included in anything and feel that they have your undivided attention. They respond beautifully and the bonding that results is irreplaceable.
How important is exercise for our overall health?
Exercise is extremely important to our overall health. It helps our mind/body balance, work/life balance, it helps improve overall mood mood, and it helps with sleep. Exercise gives us structure and helps build endurance for stressful situations.
Due to Coronavirus, our lifestyles have drastically changed, but this can be used to explore opportunities of other schedules, lifestyle changes, family and self-care, as well as new exercise routines. I encourage everyone to try something new like meditation apps, stretching, yoga, and core fitness. Use this time to find what you like, what is effective for you and easily integrated into daily schedules, and sustainable when our lives go back to “normal". Create your new normal now so that you are healthier, stronger, and balanced in the future.
Many gyms and fitness centers have converted to online courses which opens up plenty of fitness options. While there isn’t a single “best” program and some may be expensive, you can most likely find the right solution for your situation. The idea is to create a fitness program that works for you and can be maintained when you resume prior schedules. Nothing fancy is needed. Just as long as you’re doing something; you should feel good.
Now more than ever, it is important that we take care of ourselves. I know that we have been busy taking care of our families, friends, coworkers, and others, but taking the time to take care of yourself is important. Adding exercise and some great at home work environments can help with that self-care. Stay healthy my friends!Did you know that you can now schedule an appointment for a video visit with one of our providers? Get the care you need without leaving home!