Why is a work ‘commute’ healthy when we are working from home.
Our Health Hub CEO, Ian Rees, explains that a commute to and from work gives our brains a crucial ‘transition time’.
The journey home from work allows us to switch our brain from ‘work state’ to ‘home state’, and now that a work from home model is here to stay, the UK workforce is being deprived of that transition time – leading 69% of home workers to suffer from burnout, according to statistics published by Mind.
“For your own mental wellbeing you need to know that you’ve finished work. It’s hard to switch off, especially in the modern age where we’re using the same devices for personal use and for work. Home working is also often done in less than ideal conditions – hunched over kitchen tables and perched on unsuitable seating. This can lead to all sorts of MSK related issues. Anything that helps you stop and adjust is a good thing”.
According to a report published by HSE, stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 44% of all work-related ill health cases and 57% of all working days lost due to ill health in 2017/18 – totalling 15.4 million working days. And this trend does not appear to be slowing – in 2021, there were 822,000 recorded cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety, of which 449,000 reported that the effects of the coronavirus pandemic made their mental health worse. According to Acas, mental ill health costs employers in the UK £30 billion every year through lost productivity, recruitment and absence.
According to Ian, the solution to this is to ‘trick our brains’ into thinking that we are still commuting home after work. He shares 3 tips for doing just that.
1. When work is over – it’s OVER
Just because you work from home doesn’t mean you have to bring your work home with you. Without a physical transition
from the office to the home it’s easier for work to play on your mind, and you may be tempted to open up that laptop and get
some extra tasks done, but all you’re doing is actively contributing to a future burnout by giving more of your hours over to
your job. When work is over, it’s over.
2. Release tension in the body
Commuting home from work in traffic or a packed train might have been stressful, but it was part of a routine that indicated to
your brain that the day was over. When working from home, you can replace this with a routine to relax your body as well as
your brain. If you’ve been sitting in front of your laptop all day, you’ll likely have built up tension in your back, arms and neck.
Replace the physical activity of walking to your car, bus or train with targeted stretches to release tension at the end of your
3. Use music to transition out of work
If you were one of the many people who would put in some earphones and listen to music on your
way home from work – do the same thing when your workday is over to help your brain transition
into a state of relaxation. Ian recommends a combination of the sounds of a harp to give your brain
helpful transition time.
Harp therapist Julia Mitchell says:
“The timbre of the strings allows you to deeply relax and it’s been known to improve sleep, improve anxiety and stabilise vital signs. The emphasis on breathing is vitally important – it helps focus on your immediate environment, relaxation and developing a meditative state”.
Our Health Hub and Julia have created a short video to help home workers trick their brains into commuting using a combination of guided, targeted stretches and relaxing harp music to help you develop rhythmic and controlled breathing.
The ‘Time to Unwind’ video is available to watch now.