Health problems faced by work from home employees

Work from home is becoming more popular as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to influence “normal life.” The unexpected switch to a remote work environment is surprisingly stressful to the employees as the office has shifted from open seating to the kitchen table all of a sudden. While avoiding the office and remaining socially isolated is essential in preventing the virus from spreading but working from home can trigger other health issues also.

VARIOUS HEALTH ISSUES AND BEST PRACTISES TO OVERCOME THE PROBLEMS INCLUDE:

  • Stress:  If steps are not taken, working from home can become very stressful.  To overcome this, set strict work hours as if you were in the workplace and consume a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Further, engage in metabolic-boosting activities such as cycling, walking, and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or any other workouts.
  • Hearing Loss: With online conference calls, video calls, and webinars being common in many workplaces, it’s important to wear Bluetooth or headphones all of the time to attend meetings or calls, while this damages the eardrums and leads to noise-induced hearing loss. To overcome this, reduce your headphone or Bluetooth volume and make sure the volume is kept at a safe level.
  • Mental Fatigue: While working in an online mode, usually employees have to skip their lunch to attend meets or to answer emails and this tends to mental fatigue. It’s better to take breaks every 60 to 90 minutes as well as to have lunch away from your desk.
  • Weight Gain: It’s obvious that while working from home, we don’t make healthy dietary choices and it ultimately leads to unwanted weight gain. To stop gaining weight set nutrition and health-related goals, such as eating a vegetable with dinner every day, getting fruit as an afternoon snack every day, or switching to boiled eggs for breakfast.
  • Loneliness: As social isolation often leads to feelings of depression and anxiety, it is important to be active in ensuring that communication occurs on a regular basis. When your working from home, use apps like Whatsapp, Google Meet, Facebook, and Zoom to communicate with colleagues and friends. Make an effort to reach out and connect with people to keep everyone’s spirits up and safe.
  • Back Strain: Being in an unbalanced or asymmetric position, results in overburdening and straining the muscles in the neck, shoulders, and arms, as well as causes discomfort. To overcome this, set up the chair level with the table level, the arms should be at one’s side and the elbows should be at approximately 90 degrees. To prevent pain, get up and move around every hour, and drink plenty of water during the day to keep muscles hydrated.
  • Text Neck: The effective weight of the human head rises from 12 pounds to 60 pounds at a 60-degree angle as we turn our heads to look at our screens. That’s equivalent to four bowling balls! It may also cause strains and discomfort in the neck, which is referred to as “text neck.” When reading a long article or watching movies or TV, keep your phone at eye level and move your body frequently to overcome this issue.
  • Muscle Aches: When we work from home, it’s all too tempting to sit with bad posture and develop muscle aches. Working from your bed or sofa is tempting, but even your dining room chair won’t offer the same level of comfort as an office chair. Be mindful of your body’s location to avoid this. Remember to sit with your back straight and to get up at least once an hour to stretch and go for a short walk.
  • Insomnia: After a long day of staring at screens for hours, you can find yourself staring at your bedroom ceiling in the early hours of the morning, unable to sleep. To help your body move into sleep mode, switch off your mobile phone, tablet, and laptop around two hours before bedtime.
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome: It is caused by pressure on the median nerve.    Working from home involves spending the whole day seated in front of a screen. Wrist and hand pain, as well as carpal tunnel syndrome, may result as a result of this. Use a comfortable to hold the mouse and take frequent breaks to rest and stretch the wrists and hands during the day to prevent wrist and hand pain and other complications.
  • Neck and Shoulder Strain: Working from home may result in unnatural work postures. A muscle strain may occur in the neck, shoulders, and back. You can prevent this by positioning your monitor on books or small boxes and can raise your screen to eye level. Further, keeping your keyboard at elbow height with your elbows bent at 90 degrees and afterward relaxing your shoulders and, if possible, raise your seat higher by stacking books or pillows underneath you.
  • Eye Strain:  Staring at the screen continuously for hours results in straining of eyes. We are crafted to be exposed to a wide variety of light and color frequencies on a daily basis. The light spectrum is in the blue range when we are indoors and on computers, and the lighting is always fluorescent. Eye strain and headache can be mitigated by wearing blue light blocking glasses and ensure to get outside every few hours to get some natural light and exposure to the sun.
  • Anxiety: Working from home can be very liberating. It can also make you feel cut off from your managers, co-workers, and ventures. This can make you worried about your job security and success and make you anxious. Check-in with your boss and co-workers by phone or video conferencing at a set time per day or multiple times a week. 

It’s important to prioritize self-care while working from home, which can assist you in connecting to yourself and makes you understand better what you need in terms of work-life balance. Take the time to determine how to better care for yourself and fulfil your needs. Self-care can include the following activities.

•         Exercising regularly

•         Practicing yoga and meditation

•         Having a nap

•         Listening to songs that you like

•         Spending some quality time with friends

•         Reading your favourite novels

Although working from home offers a sense of freedom and flexibility, as well as no-cost travel, there are some secret sources of stress to be aware of. You will easily boost the overall work-life balance and general health by concentrating on ways to eliminate the stress.

References

  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/25741292.2020.1863560
  2. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stress-of-working-from-home-4141174
  3. https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/50-things-you-should-never-do-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ss-BB11q6gi?li=BBnb7Kz
  4. https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/wellness/50-things-you-should-never-do-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/ss-BB11q6gi?li=BBnb7Kz
  5. https://www.hingehealth.com/blog/work-from-home-new-health-risks-come-with-the-new-normal/
  6. https://www.firstpost.com/health/covid-19-work-from-home-majority-of-workers-faced-new-mental-physical-health-problems-finds-study-9081451.html
  7. https://www.eatthis.com/unexpected-health-problems-when-working-from-home/
  8. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-stress-of-working-from-home-4141174
  9. https://www.verywellhealth.com/remote-work-health-risks-5080056
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