Health

One of the recurring themes of #remotechat is the health benefits of working remotely. Living where you want to and ditching your commute will likely come with positive environmental and lifestyle changes. Here’s a breakdown:

Exercise

As a remote worker, you can build regular exercise into your schedule. You may be able to run, hike, walk and bike without having to travel too far. You can also participate in regular group-based fitness classes, which can also serve as a social outlet. Not having a commute is priceless, as there are many options for getting your fitness in. Early morning, late evening in the summer, or midday during lunch: they all are feasible since you can start and finish at your home or gym and can get cleaned up quickly.

Hygiene

Nothing can contribute to sickness faster than a communal bathroom or a cubicle neighbor who spews germs into the air with every cough. Then there are the subway railings and close quarters of people in train and bus stations. One study found that grabbing a handrail on the New York subway (where I still do travel periodically) will give you far more than stability. Unlike some other cleaner metropolitan transit systems, New York’s subway railings will give you the bacterial equivalent of shaking hands with 10,000 people! Even campaigning politicians don’t have that kind of exposure. You’ll have far less exposure at home. If you do get sick, which can happen, reach for ample rest and continued good hygiene.

Diet

You can go all in and include probiotics and antioxidant-rich foods in your diet. Or you can simply opt to “eat a rainbow”, focusing mainly on whole foods. If it comes in a bag or a box, or if the ingredients list has more unpronounceable things than you can shake a stick at, it’s probably not as good for you as something from the produce aisle. Depending on where you live, a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm may be an option for fresh produce most weeks of the year. No matter your culinary preferences, remember that variety is good and moderation is even better.

Sleep

Everyone has different sleep requirements and habits, but if you’re getting sick a lot, ramp up your sleeping hours. Your body needs rest! If you do start to feel subpar, getting to bed earlier can help. Also, take it easy during the day. You won’t regret choosing to take a day off from work so you don’t get sicker, using most of that time to sleep and lay low. It’s also a wonderful way to get caught up on your Netflix or Hulu queue (which you should not be chewing through while you’re working!)

Mindfulness and Relaxation

Meditation. Yoga. Acupuncture. Massage. There are myriad options for mindfulness and relaxation, and they can/should be an essential part of my fitness regimen. You might find that it’s useful to set a monthly reminder to schedule these appointments so they don’t fall by the wayside.

Sick Days & Well Visits

It’s important to take the occasional day off to get well, and it’s come to that for me a few times. I’ve had years that I haven’t officially taken a day off due to illness, but worked through the occasional cold despite feeling subpar. One of the major benefits of working remotely for employers and employees is that a sick employee doesn’t necessarily get taken out of commission for an entire day. Same goes for doctor/dentist/vision appointments: you don’t need to take a full day to get those things taken care of when you work from home. Your insurance likely covers well visits to your primary doctor, dentist and eye doctor. Use those benefits and stay healthy!

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