The coronavirus pandemic or COVID-19 has hit us hard and work from home is going to be the new normal for us for the time being. We often think about making changes in our diet or lifestyle for the better but our work schedule and other priorities get in the way.

Healthy living does not have to be a separate ritual that you follow every day. It comes as a part and parcel of our daily lifestyle but however, we do require some efforts and self-discipline to adhere to these habits.

While we work from home, incorporating some healthy habits in our lifestyle that we usually do not get time to follow due to our busy office schedules does not seem like a bad idea. Does it?

1. Change your workspace at least once a week

Working all day long in the same space every day can get really boring. Changing your workspace to a different room or area in your house will help break the monotony and also help you be more creative and productive.

2. Fix a daily workout schedule

Working out does not always have to be lifting weights or hitting the gym on a daily basis. If you are a beginner, start by a 20-minute indoor walk thrice a week and increase as you build up your stamina. Zumba, aerobics or other workout videos on Youtube will come in really handy if you are looking for a guided workout routine. Exercising regularly will not only improve your health but also help you sleep better and improve your overall mood.

3. Household chores do count as exercise!

Household chores like sweeping, mopping, cleaning the house, doing laundry or washing utensils manually, making your own bed or cupboard, etc will keep us occupied throughout the day and also help burn a good amount of calories. Involving other family members makes it even more fun and gives us a chance to spend some quality time together.

4. Opt for home-made meals instead of delivering

A busy schedule is one of the top reasons why people prefer a takeout meal, which are often calorie-dense and contributes to our expanding waistlines. Cooking and meal preparation can also be a great way to let go of the entire day’s stress, relax and devote some time to your family. It keeps you away from ordering unhealthy food since you already have a healthier & delicious meal ready. Planning our meals well in advance also helps reduce stress as we avoid rushing or making any last-minute decisions about what to eat.

5. Stock up on healthy snacks

Having healthy snacks accessible at home makes it easier for us not to reach out for junk food when we feel like munching on something. Making your own snacks instead of buying them also ensures that they are much healthier as compared to packaged and processed food.

Healthy snack options include: fruits/ nuts/ yoghurt/ sprouts/ boiled corn/ hard-boiled eggs/ khakhra/ paneer, chicken or egg roll/ dhokla/ puffed rice bhel/ cheela/makhana/ popcorn/ smoothies/ milkshakes. Protein-rich snacks will help you stay fuller for longer and reduce your food cravings throughout the day. However, a healthy snack does not mean that you can binge on it and portion sizes still need to be controlled.

6. Don’t skip your meals, eat regularly

Food is fuel for the body and eating small & frequent meals throughout the day will help you maintain your energy levels throughout the day. Sustained energy levels will help you focus on and accomplish your tasks better. Planning your meals is important because a busy day should not become an excuse to skip our meal and munch on foods that are not good for us.

7. Remember to keep yourself hydrated

Keeping track of our water intake is tough when we’re focused on getting work done or too busy to get a glass of water. Dehydration decreases productivity & affects our ability to concentrate and focus on work. Keep a water bottle on your desk and fill it up every time it empties. You can also set alarms/reminders/drink a glass of water 1 hour before or after your meals & every time you use the washroom to help you stay hydrated throughout the day.

Having a cup or two of tea or coffee can give you a nice break from your work routine but excess caffeine intake leads to dehydration. Limit intake of caffeinated beverages like tea, coffee or iced tea to 1–2 cups per day & opt for non-caffeinated beverages like lemon water, coconut water, herbal tea, vegetable juices, etc instead.

8. Don’t skimp on sleep

Deep down, we all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Yet for some reason, we’re all trying to squeeze in more productivity on less sleep. Getting 7–8 hours of sleep especially if you are feeling sick or exercising is extremely crucial for the body to recover from an entire day of stress & also helps strengthen the immune system. Lack of sleep can make you feel groggy which will, in turn, affect your productivity at work. Having a comfortable sleeping environment and a calming nighttime routine like a warm shower, making to-do lists, listening to music or making your bed will help train your mind to associate a bed-time routine as a preparation to sleep.

9. Making time for yourself isn’t being selfish :)

Work, family or children gets us so occupied that we often neglect ourselves and forget that we need some me-time too. Self-care habits help us make time for ourselves. It can be as simple as writing a journal, listening to music, reading a book, watching television, following a guided meditation, or reviving old hobbies. Rewarding ourselves with some me-time will not only give you a break from all the stress but also make us feel good about ourselves and contribute to our overall emotional well-being.

10. Socialize virtually for a better mental health

We spend most of our day at work and transitioning into a work from home setup might take us some time to get used to. Since we are always surrounded by our friends, colleagues or bosses at work, working from home might kick in some loneliness and impact our morale or productivity. Spending quality time with family and kids, calling or video calling one person each day with whom you may have lost touch and interacting with your colleagues will help you keep away from feeling distracted, overwhelmed or lonely.

The take-home message is to be mindful of any changes that are affecting us physically, mentally and emotionally and take charge to fix it as well as ask others around you to do the same. As important as it is to acknowledge the impact of COVID-19 worldwide, you probably need not listen to every breaking news to be well-informed as it will only make you more apprehensive. Remember to keep up with good practices to manage stress and anxiety in these times of social distancing!

Stay Healthy. Keep Safe :)