Editor’s Introduction: Staying healthy at home is a subject close to my heart right now, as I’m currently trying to shake off a flu bug that stubbornly refuses to shift.
The trouble is, us self employed people don’t really get to take time “off sick”; If we do, nobody else does the work and we don’t get paid! As such, being unwell as a freelancer can be a distinctly miserable experience – and I say that as I type whilst rattling with decongestants and painkillers…
With that in mind, this article addresses ways to stay healthy at home – both proactively, to stay well as much as possible, and reactively, when the bugs do get the better of you.
At the time of writing, the world is seeing one of the worst flu outbreaks in 50 years. Staying healthy at home is incredibly important when you work for yourself.
Taking unexpected time off can not only have a serious impact on income, but can also compromise how reliable clients perceive you to be. This isn’t always fair, but it’s a reality that cannot be sugarcoated. And while insurance companies do offer insurance against illness, it’s unlikely to cover you for everyday colds and bugs.
When it’s cold outside, the basic idea that you can stay in the warm without a daily commute is great. However, staying inside with a lack of fresh air can allow viruses to thrive. If your immune system is running below par you are still pretty likely to catch the latest bugs doing the rounds.
If you have small children, they will inevitably pick up a variety of bugs at school to share with you too!
Bugs can leave you feeling awful, and the lack of sleep that often accompanies them can make the option of lingering in bed a little longer fiercely tempting – but all that will usually do is leave you behind.
Here are a few tips for staying healthy at home – not just throughout the winter, but all year round:
Eat a Good Breakfast
Breakfast provides many benefits to your health and wellbeing.
A good breakfast sets you up for the day and stops you grabbing the biscuit tin mid-morning. Research shows that people who regularly eat breakfast are less likely to be overweight. Breakfast also has a positive effect on mental performance and can help with concentration. There’s plenty of science behind the old adage that breakfast is the “most important meal of the day.”
You’ll find some great healthy breakfast ideas in this book.
Stay Healthy at Home by Going Outside!
Many people hate the winter months because they make them feel tired and sluggish. The best way around this is to make sure you get out of the house every day – even if it’s just for a short walk.
One of the main reasons for tiredness is a lack of natural sunlight which can affect your sleep patterns. (So it also makes sense to try not to have too many lie-ins or late nights, in order to keep your sleeping pattern as regular as possible.)
During school holidays, it is also a great opportunity to get the children out of the house for a while and possibly tire them out a bit too!
Regular exercise helps control your weight, boosts your immune system, and is a good way to break the tension that can build if the family is constantly cooped up inside the house.
Take Regular Breaks
Working for too long without a break can cause all sorts of mental and physical problems. Make sure you get up and walk around regularly. Sitting in the same position for long periods can lead to aches and pains. Taking short breaks throughout the day can result in you being more alert and can increase your productivity as well as the quality of your work.
If you are feeling tired or have a headache, or are struggling to concentrate and getting restless, there’s a good chance your body is telling you it’s time for a break. There are very good health and productivity reasons to take a break. If you were working away from the home you would expect regular breaks – the law even insists on it – so make sure you follow the same guidelines if you want to stay healthy at home.
Talk to People!
As we discussed in a previous article on some of the realities of working from home, it’s easy to fall into a trap of becoming very solitary when you work from home.
Interacting with others is important all year round, but even more so in winter with shorter days and cold dark evenings. You can easily go all day speaking to nobody and that really isn’t good for your mental health. When out and about, make a point of saying hello to people – even this short interaction can boost your spirits.
Eat Plenty of Fruit and Veg
Eating five portions of fruit and vegetables per day is something strongly recommended by numerous global health bodies, including the UK National Health Service.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in the vitamins and minerals you need for good health. They are also an excellent source of dietary fibre, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent digestion problems. Fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure, and to boost the health of blood vessels and the immune system.
Get your Eyes Tested Regularly
Spending long hours in front of computer screens, painting intricate details, or sewing or knitting without natural light can all cause eye strain. It’s therefore really important to take care of your eyes. Tiredness and headaches are both signs that your eyes need a rest, so make sure you get regular eye tests. The checks that ophthalmologists perform can also give you an early warning of other serious health problems.
It’s recommended that most people should have their eyes tested every two years.
Ensure you have a Well-Stocked Medicine Cupboard
If you do succumb to the winter bugs, having a well-stocked medicine cabinet will ensure you don’t have to venture out in search of supplies when the need arises.
Being able to lay your hands on a simple cold remedy or headache relief before it takes hold can ensure faster recovery and help you get on with your working day. When you do venture out, regular use of hand sanitiser can also help to prevent you collecting germs when you are out and about.
It may be cold outside, but winter needn’t be the unhealthiest time of year for you and your family – IF you follow these tips to stay healthy at home!