The search term ‘working from home health’ has received a 6,700% uplift in searches within the last month alone, reflecting the nation’s concern that working from home for such an extensive period is impacting our health. Here, health practitioner Tammy Richards at the dispensary brand PureOptical presents the 5 major ways working from home impacts our health and how to rectify each.
Studies reveal that one in three adults have complained of eye strain whilst working from home. Eye strain occurs when the eyes are used intensely for prolonged periods of time such as driving, reading or in front of a digital device. Headaches, neck strain, blurred vision, floaters and even the inability to concentrate are all symptoms of eye strain.
“A lack of natural light is a common culprit for eye strain as much of the UK is still working within makeshift workstations. If you are working in a space that lacks natural light, take regular breaks in spaces where natural light steams through.”
15% of workers state that they never take a screen break as they feel that they need to always ‘be seen’, by their colleagues. “Remove this pressure from yourself as to be at your most productive, breaks are a necessity.”
2020 saw 37.3% of musculoskeletal complaints associated with work as opposed to just 1.4% the previous year.Musculoskeletal pain is defined by pain in the muscles, nerves, tendons, and ligaments. Pain ranges from mild to severe and can be experienced for short and long periods of time. If pain lasts for longer than three months, it is regarded as chronic pain.
“Working at a keyboard all day sees that you are at high risk of developing musculoskeletal pain. In fact, according to ONS, those that work full time at a computer are at higher risk then those that operate heavy machinery,” states Richards.
“Contrary to popular belief, you do not have to hold a straight posture all day to avoid developing aches and pains. However, you do have to ensure that you are frequently moving to alleviate pressure on the spine that occurs when you are sitting in one position for long periods of time. I encourage every person that is working from home to partake in simple daily stretches and work on a suitable surface (not sitting on beds and sofas).”
Disturbed sleeping patterns
70% of the UKs workforce has admitted that working from home has impacted their sleep at some point throughout the pandemic. Often, this is the result of employees working into the evening, not having a designated workspace, or using the same device that they work on browse social media channels and communicate with friends.
“Carve out a space within your home (no matter how small), that you only use for work. This will avoid the brain associating social spaces with work and finding it difficult to ‘switch off’. Ensure that screen time is kept to a minimum before bed and if possible, adopt a night-time ritual. For instance, lowering artificial light, consuming a hot beverage, and reading. Once the ritual is performed repeatedly, the brain will naturally wind down as it prepares for rest.”
Vit D deficiency
Vitamin D has been getting a lot of press in recent months as scientists link Vitamin D deficiency to the severity of Covid symptoms. The sun serves as a major source of Vitamin D of course, living in the UK this can be problematic. Combined with the nation spending more time indoors as the result of working from home, the UKs workforce is at risk of developing a Vitamin D deficiency.
“A vitamin D deficiency can cause fatigue, brain fog, low mood and even low immune system,” says Richards. “Vit D regulates the body’s calcium and phosphate levels, seeing that it plays a major role in our wellbeing. Try to spend 15 minutes in the sun every day to give the body the opportunity to absorb vitamin D. If you are experiencing symptoms of a Vitamin D deficiency, adopt a Vitamin D3 supplement into your morning ritual.”
A lack of commute often sees employees start their working day earlier and finish it later. Working from home can also lead to workers feeling that they must always be visible to their colleagues, seeing that they never experience in a sufficient break and partake in endless online meetings. Such working has the potential to lead to burnout.
“To avoid burnout, segment your day into blocks of time. For instance, the 1st block will be emails, 2nd getting work done, 3rd meetings and 4th a sufficient break. Not only will this increase productivity but prevent potential burnout.”