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What you can do to maintain physical and mental health while working from home

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By Arika Trimnell, spiritual and mindfulness expert – https://prismvibes.com/

With the world’s workforces consumed with concerns about safeguarding from the physical effects of Covid-19, the other physical and mental ramifications of our pivot to remote and home working can often be overlooked. However, in the midst of pandemic chaos, it’s crucial that we learn how to look after ourselves while trying to continue on as best we can. So, how can we remain vigilant and balanced when maintaining our physical and mental health in an already disrupted workstyle?

Arika Trimnell, spiritual and mindfulness expert

Physical Health

One major, literal pain point of working – from home or in an office – is the negative impact of prolonged periods of sitting. Whether it’s an uncomfortable office chair or your favorite recliner, leading a sedentary-heavy day can result in back and neck pain, eye strain, and other potentially serious health conditions.

A typical workday may find us spending 8 hours per day sitting behind a computer, which can be a real cause for concern if you don’t take periodic breaks to stand up and walk around. Not doing this can be so detrimental to your health. The Mayo Clinic conducted an analysis of 13 different sitting time and activity level studies, and found that those who sat for more than eight hours a day with no physical activity had a similar risk of dying to those posed by obesity and smoking. It is recommended that you stand up every 30 minutes or so, and moreover standing whenever you can instead (perhaps a ‘walk and talk’ meeting if colleagues don’t mind, or creating a standing desk workspace).

Even if you can manage to take these breaks, sitting in front of a computer for hours per day can still affect your spine and posture. To prevent or relieve any pain try these yoga poses throughout the day.  YouTube is also a great resource to familiarise and teach yourself the below poses if you’re attempting them for the first time:

  • Cat-Cow- Stretches the spine, torso, shoulders, and neck. Stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands and calm the mind
  • Child’s pose-Stretches the hips and thighs. Relieves stress, eases lower back pain, and increases circulation.
  • Downward-Facing Dog- Stretches the full body, works to strengthen the core, and improves circulation.
  • Extended Triangle-Stretches the hips, hamstrings, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. It stimulates the abdominal organs and helps relieve stress. Therapeutic for anxiety, flat feet, neck pain, osteoporosis, and sciatica.

Taking a break could also be a great way to engage in play with your kids, if they are schooling from home. You can sync your break schedule with theirs and it will help with consistency, and we know they’ll keep you accountable. There are a variety of ways to add a break into your workday. Don’t stress how you choose to break up your day with movement, remember the real key is to just do it! Make it you, make it fun, and make it consistent. 

Mental Health

Mental health exercises are not so separate from physical health as some may think. In fact, they impact one another in an equal way, and therefore one needs to be prioritised just as highly as the other when working from home. For example, standing up and away from your desk from time to time is great for you physically, yes, but it also gives your mind a moment to rest. Those who structure their day to include periodic breaks are actually more productive than those who attempt to work straight through the workday. Take your lunch break away from your desk instead of eating in front of your screen. Go for a walk in a local park or somewhere else you can engage with the calming effects of nature.

Speaking of your lunch break, another way to engage your mental and physical health at the same time is to prepare some exciting and feel-good foods for you to enjoy. It will help you make the most of your break, and act as a refueling stop for your body as it goes on with the workday. Keeping in mind your individual dietary needs, Intuitive Nutrition – a method introduced by registered dieticians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch which focuses on respecting hunger and satiety – can be an especially great way to get in touch with your body and reshape your thinking around relationships with food. It’s a great way to incorporate a mindfulness practice into your day as well.  We all know can be easy to forget to prioritise a healthy lunch and snack breaks in the rush of the workday, but they really can serve as great entry points to a better physical and mental state of being. 

Another good way to support yourself mentally during the remote workday is to participate in mindfulness exercises. Take some time, either throughout the day as you can or at the end of your work hours, where you engage in a mindfulness practice. I personally like to schedule them in throughout my day especially if I know I’ll be extreme busy. Perform a quick body scan to become aware of your breath and your body, slowly regulate your breath, and alternatively tense and release all the muscles in your body, this has a multitude of health benefits. Meditating for just 15 minutes a day can alleviate pain and digestive discomfort, diminish feelings of fatigue and anxiety, enhance working memory function, improve visio-spatial processing (which helps with problem-solving), and promote better overall executive function (how we plan, pay attention, multi-task, and more).

Alternatively, you can try out some simple mindfulness exercises in self-awareness, self-love, and positive affirmations and self-talk. These exercises do not even require you to take specific time aside for them, they just require that you be kind to yourself. Next time you find yourself struggling at work, reframe your thinking away from negative self-talk (“that was a dumb mistake” or “my coworkers are frustrated with me”) and instead speak to yourself in a compassionate, affirming way (“I am doing a good job,” or “My coworkers appreciate me”). All of this is sure to make you happier, healthier, more productive, and a better at-home worker.

Don’t get caught off guard thinking that because you’re working from home you can neglect your self-care practices. In fact, now is the perfect time to dig deeper into routines that refuel, energise, and recharge your mind body and soul. Your work from home lifestyle can fast track your total health goal as it eliminated our main excuse for not engaging in self-care, time.  The time you would have spent traveling to and from the office can now be time spent on you. So, reclaim your time with your physical and mental health routines.

About the Author:

Arika Modupe’ Trimnell is a spiritual and mindfulness professional who aims to help others heal from the past, align with the present, and surface profound clarity to build a wonderful, empowering future. As the founder of Prism Vibes, Arika has an extensive background when it comes to religious teachings, inner activation, and soul realignment and enjoys leveraging that to guide purpose seekers towards living a life filled with purpose and happiness.

With a degree in biology and having worked in educational sales and higher education for over 10 years helping children live their full purpose, Arika believes people are their own guru, and there are multiple paths you can take to uncover and ignite your internal power to break past mental, emotional, and spiritual blocks.

Arika is fully dedicated to helping others uncover and ignite their internal power. She dreams of a world where everyone is operating their purpose and creating a life for themselves that is better than they imagined. Because of this, it inspired Arika to write an upcoming children’s book that introduces kids to their own powers through the chakras.

Arika recently completed a master’s degree in public health, so that she can use that knowledge to create life-changing theory-based programs, and continually challenges herself to new heights. She will soon embark on a journey to achieve a Doctorate in Health Psychology to provide more data on spirituality’s importance as a public health foundation.

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