The ability to work from home has brought unprecedented opportunities. From productivity gains to better employee retention and flexibility, it is no wonder that telecommuting has become so popular. In the current climate, it has even become a necessity for many people.
But as glorious as remote working can be, it is fraught with challenges. People working from home often struggle with fatigue that can even become chronic over time due to an inability to unplug from work and constant distractions, among other reasons.
If you’ve felt the increasing weight of fatigue holding you back while working at home, read on for some of my favorite tips on energizing yourself while in this environment.
Incorporate Essential Oils around the House
If you lack the energy or motivation to get out of bed in the morning, try incorporating essential oils around the house. As evident from the research data shown below, certain essential oils help to fight fatigue naturally:
- A study published in the PubMed journal revealed that exposure to rosemary essential oil can significantly improve cognitive performance and mood.
- Peppermint oil has been shown to increase brain oxygen concentration and effectively combat fatigue from physical activity and exercise.
- Lavender oil has been extensively studied and proven to reduce anxiety and induce better sleep, tackling some of the most contributors to fatigue.
All these show just how beneficial it is to use essential oils around your home for fatigue and cognitive improvements.
There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. My vessel of choice is by releasing them into the air with a diffuser. Simply strategically place one in your home office, kitchen counter or bedroom, add a few drops of essential oil mixed with water, and reap the benefits.
Embrace the Yogi in You
The more we research about yoga, the more we learn of the practice’s wide reaching benefits to the mind and body The most recent discovery is that practising yoga can help to relieve fatigue.
Based on a study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, yoga was found to reduce fatigue levels by a whopping 57% in breast cancer patients. What’s more, the energy-boosting benefits lasted for months- long after the study had ended.
Some of the best yoga poses I advise my clients to do for fighting fatigue involve the core. By strengthening your core, you directly improve your endurance for everything from sitting, standing, to exercising.
Here are a couple of really effective yoga poses that target the core:
The bridge pose strengthens your back and abdominal muscles while enhancing the flexibility of the spine.
To perform the bridge pose:
- Lie flat on a mat
- With feet hip width apart, bend both knees
- Pressing your feet flat on the floor, lift your back off the floor as high as you can
- Maintain this position for 30 seconds
- Repeat pose for 4 – 5 times/
This is not only one of the best yoga poses you can do for your core, but also the easiest to do virtually anywhere.
To perform a low plank:
- Lie face down in a push up position, but with your forearms on the ground (vs hands).
- Push up with your forearms and toes until your elbows are at a 90 degree angle.
- With your back straight, squeeze your glutes while engaging your abdominals.
- Hold this position for a minimum of 10 seconds.
- As your core strengthens, increase the time you hold the plank position.
The great thing about yoga is its low intensity nature that not only strengthens, but heals your body. There are other back yoga poses for example that help you sleep better, destress and alleviate back pain.
Eat Less but More Frequently
As a remote worker, it’s vital to maintain your energy levels throughout the day. An easy way to achieve this is to have mini-meals frequently as opposed to taking three large meals.
One of the benefits of eating less but more frequently is that it reduces your perception of fatigue. Your brain needs a constant supply of nutrients and by having mini meals more frequently, you help replenish these energy reserves.
Plus, eating more often throughout the day prevents impulsive, unhealthy snacking, which usually leaves you feeling exhausted and cranky. In one study that involved close to 2,700 respondents, it was found that those who ate six times every day regularly took in fewer calories and consumed healthier foods.
That said, you should be mindful of the amount of calories present in each of your portion-controlled meals. According to the National Health Service (NHS), the recommended calorie intake per day is 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men. If you spread this out to about 5 meals per day, this translates to approximately 400 to 500 calories per mini-meal.
Power Up with Power Naps
Do you feel slightly guilty every time you take a mid-afternoon snooze? Don’t. Research shows that napping gives your brain ample time to recover; hence boosting your levels of concentration and energy.
That said, you should be mindful of the amount of sleep you get and the time you nap. According to Dr. Phyllis Zee, a sleep expert at Northwestern University, the ideal time to take a nap is between 1p.m. and 3p.m. for about 20 to 40 minutes.
One of the most popular power naps is nicknamed the “CEO nap”. It consists of a short 20-25 min nap midday, and helps recharge both your mind and body without causing lethargy after you wake up.
For me, taking a power nap is something I look forward to every day. It propels me to get more done in the morning as I look forward to the reward afterwards.
Boost These Supplements
If you’re always feeling lethargic, it could be because your body is lacking certain nutrients. In such cases, the best way to bump up your energy levels is to increase your intake of certain supplements. The most important supplements to focus on for fatigue are:
- Vitamin B12: Also referred to as cobalamin, this nutrient is essential for sustaining your energy levels. In fact, one of the most common signs of vitamin B12 deficiency is fatigue. The recommended daily intake of this nutrient is 2.4 micrograms for adults.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: For optimal health, an adult should take a minimum of 250 to 500 mg combined EPA and DHA omega-3s. Examples of foods that are high in omega-3s include fish, seeds like flax seeds and nuts.
- Iron: This mineral is used to make haemoglobin- the protein that transports oxygen throughout your body. Deficiency in this nutrient will leave you feeling weak and fatigued. The recommended daily intake of iron is 8.7 mg for adult males, 14.8 mg for females aged 19 to 50, and 8.7 mg for females over 50.
Focus on your Lighting
Lighting ergonomics is an area often glanced over in conversations on office health. However, lighting can greatly impact not just our mood, but productivity as well.
Leo Widrich, the cofounder of Buffer, explains how poor lighting causes a decrease in one’s cortisol levels. The result is that you’re less capable of stabilizing your energy levels, which is why you end up feeling drowsy, and fatigued.
The good news is that as a remote worker, you are in control of the type of lighting in your workspace. Here are some of the most important adjustments to make:
- Ensure there is sufficient lighting in your home office at all times. It should be around 300 – 500 lux.
- Use a combination of direct and indirect lighting to brighten up your room evenly.
- Move your workspace to take advantage of natural sunlight as much as possible.
- Position your desk so it’s perpendicular to large windows to minimize glare.
With the line between work and life blurred, people who work at home are more susceptible to fatigue than their office bound counterparts. Luckily, remote workers are also much more empowered to address the underlying issues causing lethargy, thanks to being in total control of their environment. Use the above tips as a springboard to start taking your energy and productivity back working from home.
George is a certified ergonomist and senior editor at Ergonomic Trends. You can find him hitting the gym or the yoga studio when he’s not working hard at a cafe as a digital nomad.
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