- Jun 14, 2018
In a perfect world, us work-at-home-moms (or WAHMs) will never get a sick day in our lives. But between taking care of three kids and a hubby (along with several cats), keeping the house spick and span, starting some home-based projects that could augment our regular income, and doing online surveys and GPT tasks, there’s hardly any free time for relaxation and pampering. Apparently, it’s expected that there is also no reason for me to get sick because too many people and plans depend on my health and well-being.
However, stressful days cannot be avoided in this day and age. Whether it’s from current events, things not going according to plan, or just about any potential stress-inducing reason, the results often include:
- migraines or tension headaches
- painful shoulders
- the tendency to snap like a grumpy turtle at the slightest provocation.
1) Doing desk “workouts” to prevent lower back pain and leg cramps
I first discovered barre3 from a fellow mompreneur, whose strong upper arms I always admired whenever we’d run into each other in the school parking lot. She has twin toddlers she usually has tucked under each arm, and I’ve seen her accomplish that while shutting the trunk of her car with kind of a graceful cross between an arabesque and a Muay Thai kick! Now, I no longer have kids that small, but I still had to compliment her on her upper and lower body strength. That’s when she mentioned that she does barre3 regularly in our local studio.
She also told me the wonders it has been doing for her constant lower back pain, something which I also have, thanks to long hours of sitting on a rigid-backed dining chair typing away. I looked up the barre3 website (linked below) and was pleasantly surprised to discover that not only did we have a studio in our town, but that barre3 also offers an app with helpful exercises for those tied to their desk jobs and can’t always make it to the studio (AKA me).
I loved the low impact movements they encourage that won’t put further strain on the body, but steadily build towards strength and balance instead. So far, the five-minute desk workouts are helping me re-energize after long hours of being seated (and preventing my legs from falling asleep in the process). I can’t wait to try the other exercises in the coming weeks.
2) Having the right home office set-up to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome
One of my earliest mistakes, when I decided to be a work-at-home mom, was to think I can piece together a home office with the furniture I already had (I’m cheap, so sue me!). As I mentioned above, I was using a dining chair and the table to work on for some time, up until I can no longer ignore my carpal tunnel syndrome and back pain. Stretches and lunges do help keep the aches and pains to a minimum, but as my husband pointed out until I swap my dining furniture for suitable office ones, I will have the same problem over and over again.
I was looking up symptoms and treatment for carpal tunnel at the Mayo Clinic site when I stumbled upon this office ergonomics guide. It’s a great “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure” scenario, and something my hubby heartily approves of. The article comes with a helpful illustrated guide on the proper chair height, how the monitor should be an arm’s length away, and how the wrists should be straight while typing to prevent repetitive strain.
With this guide, I was able to shop for the kind of chair that supports the curve of my back and neck, with my feet flat on the floor so they won’t fall asleep. There are also tips on how to adjust your mouse’s sensitivity for a lighter touch, thus putting less strain on your wrist.
Oh, and I also got myself a desk with leg room, so the dining table is now just for eating - as it’s meant to be.
3) Performing eye exercises to keep eye strain at bay
When we spend lots of time looking at our computer monitors, we definitely need eye exercises. And no, they don’t include the involuntary eye-rolling you do when you encounter absurd posts or exasperating news. Eye exercises are encouraged during yoga, long-haul flights, and among office workers working the 9 to 5 grind. I highly recommend doing them, even before you enter the stage of natural declining eyesight (AKA old age).
I have reading glasses coated with a special blue light filtering layer because I spend so much time gazing at my laptop screen. However, they don’t always do the trick because my eyeballs have a tendency to dry out especially in cold weather. Then I discovered this mobile app called Glasses Off (linked below) which is designed to boost the brain’s visual cortex to process images better. It basically aims for you to read without using your glasses ever again!
The application does come with a price tag (from around $10-$25 depending on the length of your subscription), though the initial download already includes a first visual evaluation and a week’s worth of free trial sessions. But if you want free eye exercise apps that help improve your eyesight, relax your eyes, and prevent visual impairment, I linked a couple of iOS and Android apps below that come free of charge.
iOS: Eye Workout
Android: Eye Exercises
4) Drinking lots of water to keep hydrated
Forgetting to drink the proper amount of water every day can lead to a lot of physical discomfort (and serious health conditions down the line). I have friends who do telemarketing, events coordination, and online tutoring and always seem to be constantly complaining about sore throats and losing their voices. Of course, they also do a lot of yelling during their kids’ sporting events, so that may also have something to do with it…
But I digress. If your home-based job requires you to do a lot of talking, then drinking water can keep hoarseness and soreness at bay. Water is also the best, purest, and cheapest way to prevent a load of health problems such as:
- kidney problems
- skin diseases
- muscle fatigue
There are apps to help you do exactly that, so you can keep track of the quantity of water you need to drink, which you can customize according to your health requirements. Check out the free water tracking iOS and Android apps below which my friends and I swear by.
iOS: Daily Water
Android: Hydro Coach
Water Time Pro
5) Stopping to rest every few hours to be stress-free
This is perhaps the most important self-care tip I can recommend to you, from one WAHM to another. Learn to pause, take a deep breath, and take some time to relax and forget about work and other issues. It can be as simple as closing your eyes, leaning back, and listening to your favorite meditation music. You can stare outside through the window at the patch of green that is your pocket garden if you want. Or you could get up and do some stretches and lunges like I suggested in item #1 of this article.
There are many ways to relax without getting up and going somewhere like the spa, or even booking the next flight out to the Bahamas. Just keeping an inspiration pegboard in your workspace will help. You can make a playlist of the kind of soothing music that will be a balm to your overworked spirit. I also heard from my optometrist that staring at something green and growing like a potted plant not only relieves the eyes from stress but also has a calming overall effect on your being.
Speaking of calm, lately, I’ve been using Calm, a meditation app that helps me with breathing exercises and other calming tips to keep anxiety away. It’s named the App Store’s 2017 App of the Year, mainly because so many users found it to be extremely helpful in helping them sleep better, breathe better, and be generally more stress-free.
Thank goodness for apps targeting the seemingly small yet significant issues we have as work-from-home moms! I know that home based-related health issues are not just confined within the WAHM demographic because I do have male friends and relatives who go through the same things due to the nature of their jobs. The thing is, mompreneurs and WAHMs seem to feel more stress from multiple sources on a daily basis - be it demanding work, unreasonable clients, unruly kids, the daily news, unreliable suppliers, and just about anyone who can disrupt what should be a smooth-sailing day.
So instead of giving in to stressful situations, having tools and resources to help prevent them is key. Most are simple enough to do, won’t require additional expenses, and have been proven to work. I do hope these five self-care tips help you in your own WAHM journey
Are you a WAHM who has gotten her fair share of stressful and physically trying days? How do you deal with them? Do you have apps or resources that you use to help you with your self-care methods? Please share them below, because I’m always open for new suggestions.