Instead of feeling relaxed and productive, you may find yourself stressed, overwhelmed, and full of aches and pains from attempting to work at your dining room table or kitchen counter.
However, many of us don’t have an alternative right now, so it’s important to find ways to relieve your discomfort.
Here are our top three tips to help you reduce pain and stress when you work from home.
How To Work from Home Without Pain or Stress
1. Make Your Workspace Comfortable
How tempting is it to work from your bed or couch when you work from home? There are all those pillows, and you can stay in your PJs all day.
Goodbye productivity and hello RSI!
While this may be fun for a day or two, the novelty quickly wears off. Before too long, your back hurts, your wrists ache, and it’s far too tempting to have an impromptu nap, pick up a book, or switch on the tv.
The most valuable thing you can do to set yourself up for success is to create a dedicated workspace and make it as ergonomic as possible.
That means making sure your body is positioned in a way to reduce discomfort and improve efficiency.
Here are the most important things to consider when setting up a work area:
Whether you are using the dining room table, the kitchen counter, or a coffee table, ensure the height of the work surface is appropriate.
Your elbows should bend at a 90-degree angle and be at the same height as the tabletop. Your arms should be able to drape loosely, and your forearms should rest on the desk or armrests of your chair. Ensure your wrists remain in a neutral vertical position and aren’t bent.
Choose a seat that allows your thighs to lie parallel to the floor, with your knees bent to a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be able to sit flat on the floor or on a footrest.
Ensure the chair fully supports your back so you’re not hunching (roll up a towel or add a cushion if you need extra support in your lower back.)
If your computer screen is in the wrong position, you may experience neck pain and headaches. Keep your monitor about an arm’s length away from you, with the top of the screen at eye level.
While you may not want to invest in a new chair and desk for your temporary home workspace, it can be worth investing in the appropriate accessories. At the very least, get an ergonomic mouse and keyboard that promotes a neutral wrist and arm position. A wrist pad is also helpful and can prevent long-term work-related injuries.
Get creative when finding workspace solutions. Even if you have limited space, there are ways to increase your comfort. Use books or boxes to position your work gear correctly, and grab towels or pillows to help take any pressure off your body.
2. Move Your Body
One of the quickest ways to develop aches and pains is to spend too long sitting in the same position, especially if your posture isn’t quite right!
Whether you work from home or in an office, it’s vital to move your body regularly.
Take short breaks every 20-30 minutes to give your body and brain a change of scene. Walk around the house or simply stand up and do some stretches to get the blood flowing.
A standing desk is also a fantastic option and can be helpful if you suffer from lower back pain.
One of the benefits of working from home is that it’s pretty easy to take a five or ten-minute break, find a stretching, yoga, or tai chi video on YouTube, and give your mind and body some much-needed movement.
3. Be Mindful of Balance
One of the most challenging aspects of working from home is finding an appropriate balance between work and home life. The lines tend to blur, and you may find yourself feeling more pressured than if you were commuting to an office every day.
It’s crucial to place boundaries to help you put work aside and focus on other things – not just your home chores but finding time to relax and take care of yourself, too.
Here are a few ways to help you balance work and life when you work at home:
- Set up your workspace in a dedicated area where you only do work (even if that’s just a space at the kitchen table)
- Create and stick to a routine similar to one you would follow for working outside the home.
- Give yourself a fake “commute” to help you get into and out of work mode (pick up a coffee from the kitchen and walk around the block before work or develop other routines to get you into a work mindset.)
- Set boundaries around work hours – don’t be tempted to check emails or finish up jobs after hours or on days off.
- Take breaks away from your workspace and off your devices – move your body and refresh your mind.
Bonus Work from Home Tip: Go Easy on Yourself!
Give yourself a break – literally and figuratively. Nobody’s perfect, and if you expect yourself to get everything right, you are setting yourself up for more stress.
Take a deep breath, understand that you can’t do everything, accept that the situation may only be temporary, and be proud of yourself for doing your best.
Treat yourself when you can and prioritize your wellbeing with things that nurture your mind, body, and spirit.
We know that massage is an excellent way to relieving stress and pain. It can also help reduce anxiety, increase productivity, and relieve or prevent discomfort and fatigue.
However, if you’re working from home, chances are you’re in lockdown, so getting a workplace massage isn’t an option for now!
That’s why it’s even more important to take time out to give attention to your physical and mental wellbeing by following our tips above. And when office work starts up again, treat yourself to a workplace massage to celebrate (or ease into the transition)!