I want to check in to see how you are doing working from home, especially as we move into the shortest days of the year. For many Canadians, the winter months, with the darker days and cold weather, can affect mood, appetite, and energy levels. It’s easy to get into an unhealthy cycle during this time, particularly as we continue to navigate a global health crisis. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen! That’s why I’m sharing my work from home checklist with you.
1) See the Light
- Make sure your home office space has a source of natural light.
- If natural light is not possible, then think about purchasing a light box and make sure you take breaks, bundle up and go outside for at least 20 minutes per day.
Although the mornings are brighter, most North Americans will now start to work in total darkness. Even though seasonal affected disorder (SAD), a form of clinical depression affects only about 5 percent of the North American population, Michael Terman, Ph.D., the author of the book Reset Your Inner Clock and a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University identifies you can experience the “winter blues,” or feelings of exhaustion, sluggishness and sadness as we approach the shorter days of the season. The fix, Dr. Terman details in his book, is light therapy, or light boxes applied at a certain time in the morning to stop the production of melatonin and wake up the inner clock.
2) Get Restful Sleep
- Aim for 7.5 hours of restful sleep daily.
- Develop a relaxing routine before going to bed at the same time each night.
If we get less than 7.5 hours, then it has negative influences on both our mind and body. Just like a healthy diet and regular exercise, a good night’s sleep is essential for optimum health and to support the body’s energy and defenses against infection and chronic illnesses including heart disease. Also, not getting enough sleep can cause a decrease in the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin and can increase the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin. This is not good news! As this change can make us crave high sugar, salty and starchy foods leading to overconsumption.
3) Take Fitness Breaks
- Choose activities you enjoy and before long they will become a regular part of your healthy work from home lifestyle.
- Bundle up and go outside for at least 20 minutes per day.
Even though where I live in Canada, this November has been warmer and sunnier than usual, and I was able to continue my outside activities and fitness regime with ease. Yes, golfing on Nov 6th and Nov 9th in short sleeves and enjoying the natural vitamin D! However, as the season changes and we navigate more restrictions and protocols at gyms and community centres, remember every effort counts! Check out my favourite three 10-minute fitness activities.
4) Eat Healthy
- Choose a dietary pattern that works for you long-term.
- Reset and think about how your healthy eating is keeping you strong and focused during a global health crisis.
I know this is a stressful time. With the stress, our immediate reaction may be reaching for the comfort foods lacking nutrition but high in calories. It’s very unsettling to have a global pandemic and economic uncertainty. However, now more than ever it’s important to continue your healthy eating plan for your well-being and to support your immune health. It’s important to make sure you’re eating nutrient-dense foods, hydrating with water, and consider taking a vitamin D supplement (with advice from your qualified health professional) as the days get darker.
5) Keep a Routine
- Enter your WFH office (ideally a separate space) at approximately the same time everyday.
- Re-visit the routine each week and find one that works best for everyone.
We can’t predict what will happen in the world or locally in the next few months, but you can put systems in place to encourage a daily routine on the home front. I recommend setting up an office space that allows for separation from your main living and sleeping areas, plus taking fitness and nutrition breaks at the same time everyday. If you’re still adjusting and adapting to working from home with the kids and your spouse in the space during the pandemic, this is a vast modification. A routine will keep things coordinated and civil.
We adjust and adapt to this new culture and work from home environment, each day is a new day to learn how to best navigate it for you. As the cooler weather and shorter days roll in, it may be tempting to stay indoors. However, keeping active in the outdoors will give you more energy and help you stay on track with your work from home healthy lifestyle.
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