With more people working from home or working remotely, a common question has come up in my coaching programs: “How do I not fall into unhealthy habits when I am working at home full-time?” Yes, it is possible to improve your physical and mental health while working from home and embrace simple healthy shifts that will have profound impacts on your mental and physical wellness.
- 10 simple habits to develop that will help you maximize your wellness while working from home.
- 1. Don’t Forget To Move Your Body
- 2. Being Mindful of Your Nutrition Choices While Working from Home
- 3. Developing Healthier Work From Home Habits
- 4. Finding Your Motivation To Maintain A Healthier Lifestyle
- 5. Start a Healthier Morning Routine
- 6. Avoiding Relapsing on Your New Healthy Lifestyle
- 7. Schedule In Regular Breaks
- 8. Change Your Work From Home Environment
- 9. Embrace A Healthier Work-Life Balance
- 10. Removing & Avoiding Harmful Chemicals In Common Household Products
- Are You Ready to Embrace A Healthier Lifestyle?
10 simple habits to develop that will help you maximize your wellness while working from home.
When adopting these new habits, slow down, don’t rush, and don’t overcomplicate the shift. Keeping them simple will help you adopt them faster.
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1. Don’t Forget To Move Your Body
When you work from home, regularly moving and stretching your body is often overlooked.
Even if you sit at a desk, or work while sitting on the couch with your laptop all day (like I do), there are still plenty of opportunities to move your body.
Moving your body more throughout the day should be one of your most important goals. Move your body… not only with daily exercise but move away from your desk and take time to stretch more often.
Keeping a sedentary lifestyle does harm your body’s immune system, especially when also giving in to other unhealthy habits.
Ideas to move your body throughout the day:
Start your day with a gentle workout session.
Gentle forms of moving your body in the morning may boost your energy. Yoga, Pilates, and Tai Chi are fantastic options for the morning. My favorite resource for these gentle exercise routines is the videos on the Gaia streaming service. There are also many local in-person options (the absolute best, but not always feasible), and you may easily find good videos on Amazon Prime and YouTube too. If you’re new to these types of exercises, I highly recommend taking an in-person class.
Find more reasons during the day to take a walk. A short morning walk, brisk walk, or jog would also be great and also appreciated by furry friends if you have dogs.
Walking is the gentlest and easiest form of exercise, especially for people with limited physical abilities. It is also the easiest exercise form to progress your abilities, adding a little bit to your walking routine at a time.
Hiking once or twice a week at a local state or national park is also a great way to get out in nature, move your body, and recenter emotionally and spiritually.
Use exercise equipment that attaches to your desk.
Yes! There are treadmills (like these desk treadmills) and stationary bikes (like these bike desks) that connect to tabletops that you can use as a computer desk. If you have space in your home or home office to house one, they’re a great way to keep your body moving!
We also have a Total Gym that tucks away either in a closet or to the side of my office that I take out a few times a week to use. It helps to have something for weight training that my kids and I enjoy using that doesn’t require going to the gym or maintaining a gym membership, especially with being a homeschool family and not having much time to use a local gym. If you do have the ability to go to the gym, using compact home equipment like the Total Gym, or even a BowFlex, would also be a great thing to schedule in.
Treat your body and mind by adding in other forms of exercise.
What do you enjoy doing? If you’re going to move your body, do so with something you enjoy. Movement and exercise shouldn’t be a form of punishment. When you’re doing something you enjoy, you’re more likely to look at it as something fun you get to do instead of something you *need* to do.
Some additional ideas for moving your body include taking a spin class, attending a local gym, at-home resistance band exercises, swimming laps, taking on a cross fit challenge, or participating in a water aerobics class.
2. Being Mindful of Your Nutrition Choices While Working from Home
A bad habit that is easy to often fall into while working from home is snacking on not-so-healthy foods all day. Somehow it seems so much easier to snack away the day at home than it is when at the office. If you have found that your nutrition is falling behind from working near your kitchen all day, here are some tips that can help:
Keep only healthy snacks on hand. If you tend to snack on chips or candy or to drink sugary drinks, be mindful of your snacking needs and keep healthier snacks within your reach. Having healthy food like a bowl of fruit, raw veggies, granola bars, or nuts on your desk or ensuring they are visible in your kitchen helps significantly to curb junk food snacking. Dipping a carrot in ranch or eating cucumber chips (this recipe is my favorite) will always be healthier than binging on Doritos or other prepackaged foods.
Meal prep and meal planning are greatly beneficial when you work from home too! The more meals you have prepared at home, you find ordering food for delivery or going out to eat less tempting. Pre-made (homemade) freezer or canned meals also help a lot for those longer or more stressful days when you want something easy to throw into the crockpot or Instapot to make cooking easier.
Bonus: you can easily spend one day each month putting together freezer meals to get you through the month, or most of the month. When my family started embracing healthier eating habits we took the 30-day paleo challenge (using this book) to help us with meal planning and kept raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, and pea pods on hand for snacks.
Set designated kitchen times. A common trap, especially when working from home, is knowing you can go to the kitchen at any time and eat something. To prevent this set designated kitchen and mealtimes, just like you would if you worked in an office.
3. Developing Healthier Work From Home Habits
Staying healthy while working from home shouldn’t be about being on a diet or trying to be restrictive. It is about balance and honoring your body, which starts with developing some healthy habits.
Take a moment to ask yourself… Do you tend to eat better when you work out first thing in the morning? If so, then working out first thing in the morning may be a wonderful and effective healthy habit for you. Including healthy habits in your daily routine doesn’t have to feel like a chore or something you are forcing yourself to do. It is the simple little shifts that result in making profound impacts.
Slightly altering your daily routines. From morning routines to what you do in the afternoon, on your breaks, or after your workday, you can change your routines to aid you in making healthier choices at home.
Encourage your family to join you. Sometimes, it is difficult to focus solely on yourself and helps to focus on the health of your family. Allow your kids help with meal prep, exercise with the family, and find family-focused activities to get you up and moving throughout the day. Family members and close friends make excellent accountability partners. I know in our house, there is nothing quite like telling my 6-year old we will be taking a family walk at 3. He is always ready to go, and the absolute best alarm clock for holding me accountable.
4. Finding Your Motivation To Maintain A Healthier Lifestyle
Have you thought about what the main reason is why you want to be healthier while working from home? This is your starting point and will help with not just your physical health, but also will positively impact your mental health and productivity when you are at home working all day.
Start with making a list of everything that is motivating you to be healthier, focusing on your WHY. Answer this question in your journal or notebook: “What reasons are motivating you to want to be healthier while working from home?”
Then further your journaling activity by asking yourself why your reason for wanting to be healthier while working from home is important to you. Take it down another layer (or 7).
This will help you understand yourself on a deeper level, and discover what will motivate you the most. There is no wrong answer to this question, except one where you aren’t being honest with yourself (and yes, going down tangents are perfectly ok). This activity will show you the real emotion-based reason why you want to be healthier. “A Why that makes you cry” is far more motivating than “to feel better and have more energy.”
For me, after placing a complicated neurological and autoimmune health crisis into full remission, I felt the need to push myself to do everything possible to maintain increasing health. Plus once you’ve endured chronic health ailments, you’ll go out of your way to continue feeling healthy, energetic, light, and capable of keeping up with dreams, goals, and kids.
5. Start a Healthier Morning Routine
To start working on your healthy habits at home, begin with your morning routine. Don’t worry about creating the perfect morning routine, or one that you get 100% right every day. Routines simply are a collection of activities you do each day, with plenty of room for embracing a little variety.
Everything in your routine should be designed to serve a purpose. Whether that purpose is something you want to get done shortly after waking up or something that may help you start your day by setting you up for success.
Benefits of Having A Healthy Morning Routine
When you are working from home, you need some sort of structure. Without having a boss, business manager, or co-workers to hold you accountable, working from home and staying healthy requires more self-motivation.
Starting your day off with healthy habits leads you to feel on track, more energetic, more motivated, and more capable.
Incorporating healthy habits into your routine throughout your day helps you maintain that energy and motivation to reach your goals and feel more productive.
Exercising first thing in the morning helps your day progress with greater momentum. Remember that the law of motion tells us that an object either remains at rest or moves at a constant velocity. This also applies to your body. If you’re sluggish in the morning, it will take more energy to keep going. If you’re up and moving your body first thing in the morning, you will be more likely to continue being productive throughout the day.
Changing your mindset to embody a healthier, emotionally balanced one helps you shift towards maintaining a positive attitude throughout the day, which enables you to feel more productive and less stressed.
6. Avoiding Relapsing on Your New Healthy Lifestyle
It is really easy to think the habits and routines you have implemented throughout your work-from-home life are for health, however many of them are about being overly restrictive to achieve a specific goal, like weight loss.
Don’t go on a restrictive diet. You may think that to eat healthily, you’ll need to be on a diet, and a diet is something you need to reward yourself for following. Or perhaps you end up using the foods you choose to eat as a means to punish your body for not looking the way you want to. This is not necessary! Change your mindset. Instead of focusing on what you need to take away from your diet, think about what you can change to improve the nutrition that fuels your body. Changing your eating lifestyle should be done with the intent and mindset focused on the fact that you’re nourishing your body from a place of love, not from a place of criticism.
Honor your emotional and nervous system queues. Don’t lose focus on the importance of how you feel physically and emotionally. When it comes to your health, how you feel is by far more important than what you think you “should be doing” or what someone else tells you that you should be doing. This goes for everything you do at home, including your physical activity, what you eat, the information you consume, and what your routine looks like.
Don’t guilt-trip yourself into feeling like you aren’t doing enough. Any lifestyle changes you incorporate into your work-from-home life are going to improve your physical health, mental wellness, and spiritual wellbeing. It is enough.
While yes, there are always other things you “could” be doing… that doesn’t mean those are all different things you need to do. Take little steps at a time, create those healthy habits that resonate with you, and forget the rest.
7. Schedule In Regular Breaks
You will greatly benefit from establishing a balanced schedule throughout your day, including taking adequate breaks. While one of the benefits of working from home is to create flexible schedules, you’ll still want to create your work schedule to reflect the one similar to what you may have had in the office, including specific work hours, a morning break, an afternoon break, a lunch break, and regular exercise.
Do desk stretches. There are many different stretches you can do while sitting down in a chair, sitting on the floor, sitting on your desk, or standing. These allow you to look somewhere other than your computer screen, stretch your body, and ideally stand up to stretch out your legs as well. This is a great opportunity for a quick 5-10 min yoga routine, or even to toss a yoga dice set to help keep your stretch routine fresh.
Walk around. Schedule breaks as an excuse to get up and walk around. Or if you have dogs or kids, take them for a quick walk around the block. Taking a walk outside is perfect as it allows you to also get some fresh air.
Test your schedule, and don’t feel shy to adjust it by what your body and mind need. If that means you need to get up every hour to move and stretch your body, then ensure you’re incorporating that into your schedule. This is to maximize your productivity and wellness. There is no right or wrong answer, as long as you’re accomplishing what you need to.
Notice what your body is trying to tell you. Often our bodies speak to us in different ways to get our attention. For example… does your neck feel stiff or your back is hurting? This is a sign you may be sitting incorrectly and should check your workstation ergonomics, whether you are working at a desk, couch, outside, or at your kitchen table. Also scheduling regular chiropractor appointments may help too. I see one twice a month.
Change things up. Having a routine doesn’t necessarily mean you need to do the same thing every day. Use different variations with your movements, dietary choices, and break activities.
8. Change Your Work From Home Environment
The work environment you establish at home may also have a large impact on your overall well-being.
Set up your workspace to maximize efficiency. Make sure your workspace sets you up for promoting focus and productivity. Are you using a desk or table that is comfortable? Are all the accessories you need to get work done easily accessible? Does your workspace have proper lighting? Do you have a system in place to cancel out noise or distractions?
You may benefit from picking up a stand-up desk, treadmill desk, or stationary bicycle desk. These often help promote better posture, keep your body from feeling too stagnant, and give you little ways to continue moving your body throughout the day in a nonobstructive way.
I love keeping an essential oil diffuser in my home office and in my living room with a few different essential oils to help keep my mind focused. Just like with food and physical activities, I love adding variety to my essential oils routine too.
Set yourself up for success by maintaining a supply healthy resources at home. It is good to have a stash of resources available to you at home that serve to improve your health. This could be keeping nutritious food and snacks on hand, setting up a space for a few home workout accessories, or just bringing nature inside with some house plants in your office to get you in a healthy mindset.
Set up designated break areas, and use them to walk away from your workspace. Taking a break at home is a little different from a traditional office outside your home because you are already in your relaxing place. This is why having a designated workspace AND a designated place to take your breaks is beneficial.
9. Embrace A Healthier Work-Life Balance
Creating a better work-life balance centered around healthy habits is essential, whether you work from home or out of the home. This tends to become more complicated than usual when your home is also your office. Especially if you’re like me and homeschool your kids.
One of the best things you can do for your work-life balance when you work from home is to create your own schedule that tells you when you start work, and when you stop. This requires you to set boundaries firmly. While it may seem convenient, do not bring your laptop to the couch (or your bed) to get work done. And respect yourself enough to not start before or after your scheduled working hours.
As a remote worker, slumping on your boundaries and getting additional work done when you have nothing else going on becomes too easy. Setting strict boundaries for yourself to enjoy your personal time off and using that time for self-care, hobbies, or spending time with friends or family for some social interaction is important too.
10. Removing & Avoiding Harmful Chemicals In Common Household Products
This is easily the most commonly overlooked aspect of creating a healthier life, whether working from home or in the office.
Contrary to popular belief and shady marketing tactics, most people don’t realize how many harmful chemicals are in their household products, such as cleaners, personal hygiene, self-care, skincare, haircare, perfumes and colognes, and air freshener products. These chemicals are known for causing harm to your respiratory, nervous, digestive, endocrine, and reproductive systems in addition to being cancerous. These may also cause feeling mentally foggy, lethargic, struggling to think or speak, difficulty focusing, and overall unmotivated.
Reading labels can be tricky, as not all the ingredients legally need to be listed on the label. There are a few tell-tale signs, though, to understand the likelihood of a product containing harmful ingredients. If you’re buying your household products from a major department, grocery, or drug store… chances are they have several harmful ingredients, even if labeled “100% natural” or “green.”
Once you can identify harmful chemicals in your home and swap them out for safer (or DIY) options, you’ll notice feeling lighter, feeling happier, feeling more capable, feeling more productive, feeling more focused, and enjoying more natural energy along with better quality sleep.
Are You Ready to Embrace A Healthier Lifestyle?
Let’s take a moment to see a quick summary of how to embrace a healthier lifestyle at home and make sure you are ready and on the right path.
Small habit shifts create big changes – Remember that making simple healthy habit shifts while you work from home does not mean making major changes to your entire life.
Find what motivates you – What reason motivates YOU to make the changes you need to be healthier may not motivate someone else, and that is ok. What is important is that you are honest with yourself about your wellness goals, whether those goals involve weight, physical wellbeing, mental wellbeing, decreasing stress levels, or any other reason you may have.
Set healthy goals – Set health-related goals for yourself. What aspects of your life are you trying to improve? Where are you struggling right now in terms of overall wellbeing? The more specific these goals are, the easier they will be for you to achieve.
Ditch the toxins – Lastly, set some goals for yourself when it comes to your health. What are you trying to improve? What are you struggling with right now? Setting more specific goals will allow for an easier journey to achieve them.
Thank you for reading!
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