The Hidden Risks of Working From Home

Woman working from home suffering back pain

Some people love working from home; the freedom, flexibility, and lack of a morning commute are real advantages to remote work. Others may struggle with the lack of structure and absence of co-workers. Whether you telecommute by choice or you’re working at a home office out of necessity, there are hidden health risks with working from home.

There are health risks that come with working from home. Identify the risks so you can put healthy habits in place and promote wellness! Click To Tweet

From sedentary living to feelings of loneliness, working remotely can affect your physical, mental, and emotional health. Simply being aware of the risks of working from home can help you stay happy and healthy; it allows you to take action to promote good health and wellness.

Uncomfortable workspaces

When the COVID-19 outbreak first hit, many put together makeshift workspaces so they could work from home. There’s only so long that you can work eight hours a day from your kitchen table or an outdoor lounge chair, however.

The longer you work at that temporary workspace, the harder it is on your body. An inadequate workspace can lead to back pain or neck pain, and it affects your mood and productivity.

Make sure that your workspace is comfortable and ergonomic. Practice correct sitting posture, make sure that your computer screen is positioned properly so that it doesn’t put a strain on your neck, and take short breaks to move around and stretch each hour.

Talk to a chiropractic doctor about back and neck pain.

New sources of stress

Stress isn’t a risk that’s unique to working from home, but there are unique sources of stress when you telecommute.

Distractions are plentiful with remote work. Maybe you hear your family having fun outside, or there’s a pile of dirty dishes in the sink that keeps calling your name. You’re at home, so it’s easy to start blending home life and work-life rather than keeping them separate.

Maybe you miss having co-workers around, and you’re feeling lonely. Maybe solitude during your workday leads to distractions like online shopping or social media.

Things like pressure to meet deadlines, difficulty with time management, and a lack of structure can also cause stress.

Stress affects your physical and mental health. Identify the things that cause stress, and look for solutions. Maybe music helps you stay on task and focus. Accept that you won’t do household chores during work hours. Try talk radio to fill-in for office co-workers, or find a buddy for a video chat.

Also, manage your stress. Try these stress management techniques and know when to talk to a medical professional about stress.

Physical inactivity

Physical inactivity is one of the main health risks of working from home. It’s easy to sit more and move less without even realizing it. You’re not walking across parking lots or upstairs to your office. You’re moving a few feet away from your bedroom.

Physical fitness is important; it provides numerous health benefits and improves your overall quality of life.

Adults need at least 30 minutes of physical activity every single day. Make a point to move or exercise on a daily basis. Establish regular times for physical activity so you can accomplish this.

Go for walks, ride your bike, or find a home fitness regimen.

Boredom and fatigue

There may be days when you don’t leave the house. Maybe you are working longer hours and taking shorter breaks, or skipping breaks altogether. Remote work can start feeling repetitive, and it can lead to feelings of boredom, fatigue, and ennui.

Find ways to break up the monotony. Make it a point to do things that bring you joy and happiness each day. Learn new facts, practice new skills, or pick up a new hobby.

Be purposeful about adding new and interesting things into your daily routine.

More time indoors

The air quality indoors may be worse than outdoor air quality. There are things that you can do to improve indoor air quality, however:

  • Change the filters in your home
  • Vacuum
  • Dust
  • Open windows to air out your home
  • Wash linens

Also, make a point to get outside every day. Go for walks, play yard games, or just sit outside and enjoy the fresh air.

Unhealthy eating

More time at home may lead to unhealthy eating habits. Maybe you’re eating more, eating more frozen or ready-to-eat convenience foods, snacking more, or skipping meals.

Perhaps you jump right into your workday instead of eating breakfast, or you work through lunch.

  • Make a point to stop and enjoy each meal; mealtimes can be good reference points to help provide structure during your day.
  • Choose healthy, nutritious meals.
  • Meal prep ahead of time to help make a quick lunch more convenient.

Talk to your primary care physician for any of your health questions or concerns. MANA has some of the very best doctors in Northwest Arkansas.