The science behind self-care apps and practising self-care at remote work 🧘
This happened to me a year back when I began working remotely, while most of my team was still in-office. We have bi-weekly sprints where we discuss the goals and plan for the coming weeks. Post that, it is pretty much independent execution.
I felt an implicit pressure building upon me whenever I missed a daily target or couldn't find time to chat with a teammate about a work issue. I had this inherent rush to somehow finish the tasks at hand or achieve targets be what may. Naturally, I started working long hours, had sleepless nights and my personal life was a mess. And it didn't end there. It took a toll on my health as well - this was the first time I suffered from severe back pain.
Strangely, none of this was ever a problem when I was working in-office for over 2 years before moving to working remotely. It was the same team, the same structure and the very same processes. Yet I wasn't able to cope up with the pressure.
Later I realised it actually had nothing to do with my work but just to do with me, as an individual. Self-care is often ignored, misunderstood or even misused. Turns out when I started caring for myself, most of my (work) problems disappeared. So, here's my take on why and how you start caring for yourself (if you aren't already) right away, especially if you work remotely.
What is self-care?
If I ask you "do you take care of yourself?", your obvious answer would be a "yes". In fact, you might rubbish the question saying "who doesn't?". However, if I ask you to list the ways in which you take care of yourself, you would probably not have a convincing answer.
According to the International Self Care Foundation (ISCF),
"Self-Care is what people do for themselves to establish & maintain health, and to prevent & deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, socio-economic factors and self-medication."
The ISCF has also developed a framework for self-care around 7 pillars:
- Health literacy - Understanding health information and using it to make informed decisions
- Mental wellbeing and self-awareness - Understanding one’s own mental and physical health status
- Physical activity - Regular exercise improves health, fitness, mood and sleep
- Healthy eating - To reduce the risk of diet-related diseases
- Risk avoidance - Avoiding or reducing any risky behaviours that directly increase risk of disease or death e.g. quitting tobacco, limiting alcohol use, getting vaccinated etc.
- Good hygiene - Good sanitation prevents spread of diseases, includes washing hands regularly, brushing teeth, washing food etc.
- Responsible use of products and services - Example, using prescription medicines and preventive health care products rationally and responsibly
Potential health risks when working remotely
There's no doubt that remote work brings in huge benefits, be it flexibility in work schedule, zero or minimal commute and fewer or no distractions at work. However, remote work also brings in a fair share of challenges in the form of loneliness, inability to unplug after work and poor working habits among others.
Here's a brief list I put together, basis my own experience, on the potential health risks you face when you work remotely:
- Back issues or body pains from poor posture
- Lack of sleep or inconsistent sleep schedule
- Inactivity (and related health problems) due to lack of breaks
- Loneliness and a toll on your mental wellbeing from isolation
You need to start practising self-care NOW
Worried about facing serious health issues? Honestly, each one of us should be. Now that we are aware of the challenges and health risks that come along with an unhealthy remote lifestyle, we can turn to rectifying the situation.
Here are a few health tips from my end on how to practise self-care when working remotely:
- Setup your workstation (if you haven't already) and keep it clean.
- Establish a regular work schedule and routine.
- Exercise regularly. Ideally carve out small spaces for physical exercise.
- Ensure you get proper sleep and stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
- Ensure human interaction - Get out of your home office and socialise.
- Reward yourself (can be as small as having a tasty treat) to stay motivated and interested.
- Build a support network, in the virtual and/ or real world.
Using technology to work healthy and stay well
It's 2020 and we have tons of amazing apps to help you with almost anything you can possibly think of. So why not leverage this to lead a healthy lifestyle and practise self-care?
I have been using a few self-care apps for quite some time myself and they have helped me in beautiful ways, be it Calm for meditation, WaterMinder to remind me to drink water or Reboot for taking breaks.
Now I know how useful recommendations can be. And that is why, thanks to our wonderful team at Remote Tools, we meticulously reviewed and curated a list of helpful apps for self-care. We now call it the 'Self-care Toolkit for Remote Workers'.
I can't recommend you enough to start using one or more of good self-care apps. Browse through our collection and find apps that you can start using right away. And drop me a line if you have any suggestions on our collection - additions, deletions, feedback. I would so love to hear your thoughts - drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GO REMOTE. WORK HEALTHY. STAY WELL.
Remote Working Chronicles - A product & UX designer who loves exploring wilderness & outdoors
Himanshu convinced the founders of the startup he was working for to switch his role to remote and that's how he first delved into working remotely after spending 3 years in-office. However, the initial months were quite challenging for him since he had planned a lot of travel alongside, to the point that he was about to return to an in-office role. He eventually settled in once he moved back to his hometown and had a proper structure & setup for remote work. Curious to know more? Read Himanshu's entire journey here.
As always, here are our top-picks of remote-first products:
✔️ Unmeeting provides smart video interactions for remote teams
✔️ Questup helps you create interactive Q&A sessions
✔️ Pomodus is a productivity tool that helps plan and prioritize your day
✔️ Willo is a video interviewing tool for remote teams
✔️ MyHours is a time tracking tool for small teams and freelancers