Whether you refer to it as ‘remote’ working/ ‘e’-working/ ‘tele-working or ‘working from home’, adapting our home environment as our place of employment has now become a reality for many of us.
While there may be some that have grown accustomed to such ways of working before now, others may be experiencing this for the first time. We have included some tips below to help you maintain a healthy eating routine, as well as some ‘working from home’ watch-outs. Chartered Psychologist, Shane Martin, also provides expert guidance on how we can strike the optimum work-home balance.
Healthy Eating: Routine and Preparation are Key
Disruption to our daily routine can often coincide with a change in our eating patterns for a period of time; for example, our dietary choices may differ during the summer holidays or on weekend days compared to weekdays. With circumstances now requiring many of us to adopt remote working as part of our routine for the foreseeable, it is important to instil healthy habits from the offset. Some tips:
- Structure Meals and Snacks – As well as following the Department of Health’s healthy eating guidelines, try and develop a structured eating routine by having meals and snacks at the same time each day and avoid skipping meals.
- Plan Ahead – In the absence of the workplace canteen or the sandwich counter go-to with work colleagues, try to plan and prepare your lunches in advance. Why not make extra dinner the night before to have for lunch the next day or get creative with any leftovers? For example: extra rice or pasta can be added to a mixed salad or burrito bowl; chilli mince is delicious on a baked potato with some grated cheddar; and vegetables of your choice can be used in a tasty frittata or omelette.
- Enjoy Extra Time at Breakfast Time – Rather than grabbing a slice of toast on the go to catch the bus or avoid traffic tailbacks, this break from commuting can help ensure we prioritise one of the most important meals of the day. Breakfast-time can also be an ideal opportunity to help us on our way towards our recommended 3 servings from the ‘milk, yogurt and cheese’ food group for adults (5 daily servings for those aged 9-18 years), while providing essential nutrients such as calcium, protein, phosphorus, iodine, vitamin B2 and Vitamin B12. Examples to enjoy at a more leisurely pace include: tasty smoothies or overnight oats made with milk and yogurt; cheesy scrambled eggs, omelette or breakfast tacos; breakfast egg muffins; pancakes or fresh fruit salad topped with natural yogurt.
Working from Home Watch-outs:
- Limit tempting treats – While we all need to take a break from our work, having the kettle, fridge and cupboards in closer proximity can s encourage more frequent snacking. Try to stick to your regular mid-morning and afternoon break times. Keep processed foods high in fat, sugar and salt e.g. crisps, sweets, biscuits to a minimum (and out of sight!) and opt for smarter snacks instead. Examples include: fruit (e.g. apple, banana, berries); handful of plain, unsalted nuts; rice/oat cakes with peanut butter; a milky coffee; a natural yogurt; cubed cheddar cheese with grapes; chopped vegetable sticks (cucumber, carrots, peppers) with hummus; or a homemade scone/muffin.
- Give your food your focus – Try to step away from the laptop, iPad, PC or phone to ensure you enjoy your meal and snack breaks. This break will help to refresh your concentration as well as helping you eat more mindfully by giving you time to enjoy your food. Eat slowly to avoid temptation for second helpings that may be easier to reach for at home.
- Stay hydrated – With the office water cooler amiss as a permanent prompt to keep hydrated, remember hydration is important for good health, concentration and alertness. Filling a large bottle of water before you begin work and placing in your work station area will encourage this healthy habit. Limit sugary drinks e.g. lemonade, cola, energy drinks as most are high in calories with little nutritional value.
MINDING OURSELVES: Working from Home – Some tips for easing new stresses
Shane Martin C.Psychol.Ps.S.I.
Chartered Psychologist of the Psychological Society of Ireland
Working from home is a new and challenging experience. It is stressful adjusting to unaccustomed noise levels and interruptions within the family setting. There is a sense of detachment from your colleagues as team collaboration in the format of face-to-face meetings is replaced by communication via laptop or phone. Over the years sudden and significant changes to your work dynamics always tested your resilience levels. However, all of this has to be managed in the current background of the emotional and social fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. We are now living and working in an environment where all family members are feeling stress and anxiety as they cope with an uncertainty about life never experienced before. Here are some tips to help with that adjustment but you must be patient. Adjustment always takes time.
Try and connect with at least some of your colleagues (or your entire team, depending on the workforce size) over phone calls or video meetings. This will help to provide some continuity and scheduling to your work day, as well provide some respite from feeling isolated. This may be particularly relevant to those that live alone or with less familiar/friendly housemates.
Whether you settle for the garage, garden shed or a specific bedroom – a dedicated workspace needs to be established. You cannot be changing this all the time as this will unsettle you and frustrate other family members or housemates. It is best to agree the allocation of this space with them in advance. You need to explain to children why you need it. You may have to compromise when it comes to comfort but it’s the first step in this new situation that needs proper attention.
When at home it’s very easy for the boundaries between your work and family/home life to become blurred. If you live in a family home, tumble drying, vacuum cleaning, hide and seek games or loud music can interfere with work and lead to tensions. Family members need to know when your workday starts and finishes and what kind of noise levels are tolerable. You should wake up, get up, get dressed and turn up for work. You must be consistent about these boundaries or you will confuse others and the situation becomes more complex than it needs to be. Stay in the workspace until finished and keep all your work there!
The most important boundary to protect is that between work and home. This is always the case but needs more robust protection now. Work mobile phones, laptops or iPads need to be left in the workspace when your work day ends. You need to signal clearly to family that you are now ‘home’! One deliberate way of doing this is to close the door tightly on the workplace and start a game with younger children, sit down and chat with your teenagers or ask your partner or spouse if there is anything you can help them with. A family walk at the end of your workday would be a good habit to start and would help create a boundary between work and family responsibilities.
More Time for Breakfast Time…
Quick and Tasty Lunchtime options….
Perfect for the Tea Break…