Guest blog: How to Stay Physically and Mentally Healthy When Working from Home - By Sam Butterworth - Freelance Writer

Life as a home worker is a double-edged sword. Anyone who is self employed and tells you that every single aspect of their life as a freelancer is fantastic, is a liar. Sorry, but it’s true. As with everything in life, there are pros and cons.

 The Pros: You don’t have to put up with temperamental bosses or spend hours every week on your commute. You can also wave goodbye to those painful team meetings and the desk mate you were never really that mad about.     

 The Cons: Too much time spent sat on your own can be unhealthy. TalkSport might fill the void, but listening to other people talk is no substitute for actually socialising yourself. Then of course, there’s the sore shoulders and hunched back that comes from working at a desk that has not been set up in accordance with official workplace regulations.

The rise in home working

 An article published by the TUC to celebrate the tenth National Work from Home Day, organised by Work Wise UK, reported that a record 4.2 million now work from home. There are a huge number of different jobs now available for home workers, from freelance designers, writers and admin workers, to franchisees, eBay sellers, customer service reps and more.

 With record numbers of people now working from home, it’s more important than ever before to encourage those workers to adopt a healthy work-life balance, and to take extra care of their physical and mental health.

 Here are our top tips to help home workers stay healthy, happy and productive while working from home:   

 1. Manage your workload effectively

 One of the biggest causes of stress for home workers is taking on more work than you can handle. When you’re responsible for your own wage, the temptation is to keep your clients happy at all costs. Agreeing deadlines for work can be a tricky business. You want to provide short turnaround times so the client doesn’t go elsewhere, but you don’t want to work so much that it negatively affects your health. 

 The best advice is to set realistic deadlines from the start. If it’s going to take you two weeks to complete a piece of work, so be it. If your work is good, most clients will be prepared to wait.

 2. Stay organised

 Good organisational skills are not something we are all blessed with, but they are skills you can learn. Keeping your workload organised may eat up a few precious minutes throughout the day, but it will save you a whole heap of stress further down the line.

 The trick is to create a system that works for you and stick to it. Whether you use sticky notes, spreadsheets or a notebook is completely up to you. The result will be an orderly workspace and a healthy mind.

 3. Take regular breaks

 This is important for your mental and physical health. Sitting in the same position staring at a computer screen for hours on end is not conducive to a good posture or a particularly healthy lifestyle. Simply taking a five minute break every hour can give your body and mind the break it needs.

 Your eyes can easily become strained when staring at a computer screen, so exercise those eye muscles by focusing on something in the distance. And while you’re at it, why not do a few star jumps to get the blood pumping, straighten up the back and stretch out those limbs?

 4. Do some exercise

 A few star jumps here and there is no substitute for proper exercise. The benefits of exercise are threefold for home workers. Firstly, you’ll improve your physical fitness and get the heart pumping. Secondly, this is a great way to de-stress, forget the day and release some of those wonderful ‘feel good’ endorphins. Finally, if you can include a social element in your exercise by playing a team sport or going for a run or cycle with a friend, you can get your social fix too.

 5. Sleep like a baby

 That does not mean waking up at sporadic intervals throughout the night crying. Exercise plays an important part in getting a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to finish work well before your bedtime. Relax for a few hours and try not to think about work once you’ve shut everything down. The temptation is to check your emails even late into the evening, but don’t. You’ll only end up having a terrible night’s sleep that’s plagued by those soul-sapping work dreams.

6.  Meditate

 This might sound like new-age nonsense, but the truth is it really does work. Researchers have found that meditating can have an almost instant effect on stress. The study, published in the journal ‘Psychoneuroendocrinology’, investigated how mindfulness meditation affects people’s ability to be resilient under stress. Dramatic results were seen in those who completed three consecutive days of 25 minute sessions.

 And there you have it - a few simple steps to a happier, healthier working life.

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