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Working from home? Must read.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, many of us were thrown into working from home. The balance of work-life has been tossed aside as our dining rooms have become our work spaces and days of the week all blur into one. For the majority of Americans, we are struggling to cope with the new normal: balancing work, caring for children and cooking what may be the millionth meal of quarantine.

As a physical therapist, I have, like you, had to change my daily work routine to sometimes working from home and providing telehealth sessions for patients who choose to not receive treatment in the office.ProFysio remains open and continues to serve patients in person, but telehealth has been extremely valuable for those folks that cannot leave their homes.

Delivering significantly more treatment via telehealth than in the past has required me to be creative and innovative in the treatments that I prescribe for my patients to get them well. My patients have benefited from the new ways to rehabilitate at home. In addition, in order to deliver treatment via telehealth from my home office, I’ve had to create a functional work space that allows me to demonstrate therapeutic exercise all while managing time and of course my personal wellbeing. After many discussions with patients and peers who are also working through this I am here to share some tips on how to stay productive and healthy amongst the chaos.

  • Schedule your work hours and set limits: Discuss with your families so they are aware of what hours you are setting aside for strict work time to minimize distractions and improve productivity.  Limit interruptions within your household but set limitations for yourself and colleagues for communications outside of those times.
  • Stick to your routine and get good quality sleep: Set alarms for waking up at the same time everyday, Your body thrives on routine and maintaining a normal sleep schedule is paramount. Eat healthy meals and avoid snacking throughout the day. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic drinks late in the day, don’t nap for more than 20 minutes/day and evaluate your bedroom for comfortability. If pain is affecting your sleep a physical therapist can help evaluate your pillow set up as well as sleeping postures to reduce difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Exercise daily: It’s easy to work all day and then binge-watch your favorite television series especially when we are urged to stay at home but safely exercising for at least 30 minutes/day helps to reduce stress and maintain healthy hormone levels. While exercise is healthy, a pandemic is not the best time to begin a new, strenuous exercise routine. Stick to exercises you are familiar with and if you have doubt about how to manage a safe program or any underlying conditions contact your doctors or physical therapist.
  • Prepare your workspace: While most offices have prepared their employee workstations with all the necessary equipment our makeshift in-home spaces probably don’t add up. Do your best to create a workspace that reduces stress on your neck and back. Utilizing an external keyboard and mouse allows you to raise your monitor (especially when working on a laptop) to the proper visual height. Find a comfortable chair and use pillows to support your lumbar spine.
  • Take breaks: Don’t find yourself logging hours of screen time without taking breaks. Spending long periods of time staring at screens can take a toll on your mental and physical health. Utilize the 20-20-20 rule as a way to remember to take frequent breaks. It’s simple, set an alarm for every 20 minutes, and take a 20 second break by looking at something 20 feet away. This is a great way to give your eyes a rest as well as get out of your chair and reduce the stress on your neck, back and shoulders.
  • Use technology to your advantage: Utilize telehealth to reach your doctors and physical therapists with concerns, acute or chronic issues or difficulties with home setup. Use video calls to stay in contact with family and friends. Although close physical contact is not allowed at this point we can all do our best to reach out and share our experiences.

If you need assistance navigating exercise, wellness or managing your home office setup, contact ProFysio Physical Therapy, offering in-office and telehealth sessions.

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