Those who have built a career out of working from home continue to rally behind its benefits against working the traditional way or in a corporate setting. Because there seems to be “more” time for self by being at home most of the time, work-life balance becomes easy. However, this is not always the case; there is that psychological bearing in this new work lifestyle that tends to make VAs work harder and longer for that proverbial dollar by the hour . . . . “nakakahinayang kasi eh!”.

Health risks rising

Maybe this is the reason why there are now more reported studies showing more health risks for people working from home. Contrary to common believe that you are rid of stress in working from home because you no longer run through the day to and from work, no more long commutes and mental and psychological stress from people you deal with each day in the office. While it might be true, the VA working condition still adds to the sedentary lifestyle: stuck to a chair for an average of 10 hours on a daily basis. Not good.

Here’s a short list of those risks:

If you’re doing the balancing act of a VA with a baby or kid in tow

  • Lack of focus to do the work, stress level goes up = Cortisol alert!
  • You could be sleep deprived, resulting to lack of energy and focus to attend to your day
  • Mild depression is expected because you feel out of control

If you skip the ergonomics (proper working environment)

  • Lower back pain due to long sitting in wrong posture
  • Tight shoulders due to being in a static position resulting to upper back pain
  • Eyestrain due to eye muscles being in convergent, reading position for long time
  • Compressed calves due to lack of blood circulation

If you lack social and interpersonal activities

  • Feeling of isolation without enthusiasm to go out and meet people
  • More mental attention to things you aren’t able to accomplish
  • Feeling of lack and not being good enough
  • Mild to moderate depression

We didn’t think that being a VA or freelancer we could be susceptible to all these health risks that it is no surprise why some VAs end up going back to traditional corporate setting just for “change of working atmosphere”. This is mostly true for those who were extrovert and seek people interaction all the time due to the energy it brings to the individual. But for some the VAs work at home environment is ideal. I guess the key is to be mindful of the health issues that you can be exposed to that can otherwise affect the way you work.

Break the unhealthy pattern

The first thing that you’ll notice when working from home is causing you unknowing anxiety is when you are feeling less enthusiastic and that often times you put off work when you shouldn’t. Some say it’s a burnout. Nevertheless, something must have caused it. When we say health risks, as the title of this article implied, I just didn’t mean physical risks, but anything else that affects your overall health. You need to agree with me that to be truly healthy, your mind, body and spirit must come together in good harmony; that is the type of balance we are all craving for. Unless we have that we cannot fully feel accomplished, no matter how much amount of dollar per hour comes in.

By the way, I’ve written an article recently on how you can beat procrastination. It’s a good one; check it out here.

Let me give you my own version of breaking the unhealthy pattern.

As a coach and active virtual assistant I am always swamped with work. As a coach I hold responsibility in guiding my students in their VA journey especially during the initial stages of their career. As a VA, I have a responsibility to my clients. But not taking anything else in my personal life as also important is a recipe for stress. So I keep my balance this way:

  • I take part in sending or fetching my kids to school. And because I am a teacher at heart and by nature, it brings me joy to be able to help them with their school work
  • I continue to manage a small tutorial school for other kids. Being around them and other co-teachers keeps me well grounded
  • I take active part in my community by participating or spearheading mission works for the needy. It brings so much joy sharing your time and blessings to others. After doing so, I feel more alive and energetic that it excites me to go back to work
  • I recently had an engagement that allowed me to travel locally and meet like-minded people and train new batch of virtual assistants. It’s so refreshing to go outside the confines of your home office to meet new people and just explore

Well, mine is not much, you see; but it allows me to break the pattern of stress build-up that can come from big projects. I am keen on giving your brain a short break to do other interesting things.

But there are simple yet effective ways you can effectively manage stress from working at home; doing them religiously is doing your health a big, big favour. . . . .

Eat right and don’t skip meals. How often are you guilty of skipping meals because you need to catch up on deadlines. Junk foods and sweets won’t cut it even if they provide momentary satiety. They aren’t nutritious enough to make your brains function well or focus.

Don’t skip drinking water. Just because you don’t feel thirsty doesn’t mean your body is dehydrated. When your body is on dehydration mode, your brain gets foggy and you feel sluggish. In a short while you’ll start to feel some headaches. Never mind if drinking water means frequent trips to the toilet. Take it as your short leg stretches.

Mind your posture. Pay attention to how you sit in front of your computer; if you do it wrong, your muscles will strain and eventually tighten in that wrong posture, that when you start to move in the right position it will start to hurt.

Get up and take a coffee break someplace else. It takes at least 15 minutes to finish a good coffee. Take this as an excuse to watch TV or play with the dog or walk around. You’ll feel the burst of energy afterwards.

How about you? Let me here your thoughts on how you design your work-life balance to keep healthy issues at bay. I would love to hear from you.