Teleworking is often harmful to physical and mental health: good advice to apply

See in this year of health crisis an opportunity? Or to wail and sink? That is the question. A question of positive or negative attitude. In this regard, it seems that our country is divided into two camps. At least if we are to believe a survey carried out among 1000 Belgians by iVox on the initiative of the online pharmacy Viata.be. It turns out that about a third of Belgians have sought comfort in their sofa and the comfort food, while another third have rebounded from the situation, to make good resolutions, on the sport and diet side. This is a positive attitude that young people have adopted above all, according to this survey, while people who have had to work from home have a greater tendency to indulge in less good, not to say bad habits.

In more detail in the figures, the survey shows that more than a third of Belgians saw their health, both physical (33%) and mental (36%), deteriorate sharply last year. The main cause is a lack of motivation. Thus 43% say they have done less sport. On the one hand, certainly, constrained and forced because the sports infrastructures were closed, but on the other hand above all because they simply did not want to anymore (28%).

On the plate side, the results are hardly more encouraging. A fifth of those surveyed said they also ate worse and 29% said they ate more sweets and snacks. It is therefore not surprising that almost half of them say they have gained weight: more than 2 kilos for a third of them and more than 5 kilos for one in ten. No wonder, therefore, that they are more likely to complain of back pain and muscle pain (25%), headaches (20%) and sleep disturbances (31%).

People who telecommute are hit the hardest

Another finding that emerges from this survey: teleworking seriously harms physical and mental health. That we eat less healthily (30%) or that we spend more time than before in front of our computer screen To such an extent that a quarter of the people questioned declared having even completely neglected their health, that is to say twice more than average. More than a third of teleworkers complain of back and muscle problems (compared to 22% on average) and dry eyes (compared to 26% on average).
This is because they are often longer in front of their computer than before the coronavirus crisis. A third actually spends more than 8 hours a day glued to their screen (more than before the coronavirus crisis for 40%) and 10% of them attend online meetings for more than 4 hours a day. And this, in a workspace that is rarely adapted in most cases. 45% simply work in their living room without a separate desk, and as many as 62% do not have an ergonomic office chair for a working day.

Good advice for teleworking

In order to avoid aggravating back and muscle problems, it is advisable to stand up regularly and adopt a good sitting posture., advises pharmacist Annelies Vanderlinden. Make sure that the top of your monitor is at eye level, that you are seated in a chair where your knees are lower than your hips, and that your forearms can rest on your work surface at an angle. law. If you still feel pain, a heating pad or cherry stones can provide relief, just like a spray or a heating gel. To avoid dryness and fatigue of the eyes, it is advisable to look away from the screen for 20 seconds every 20 minutes and blink your eyes. Working with an air humidifier can also help, as can using artificial tears (no preservatives) or eye sprays to apply to the eyelids. The main thing to avoid is to rinse your eyes frequently (and never with a solution for lenses for example) and to rub them, because this only worsens the irritation.“.

Harmful to physical health, teleworking would also be harmful to mental health. A fifth of those surveyed have more relationship problems since the coronavirus crisis (a third more than on average).

Almost one in three Belgians instead pay more attention to his health

On the other hand, there are those who took advantage of the crisis to, on the contrary, take charge. Three out of ten Belgians took more care of their health. So much so that one in six respondents say that their physical health has improved, and for one in eight, it is also the case mentally.

Although most of the infrastructure has been closed, a fifth of the surveyed population nevertheless did more sport than usual: walking (42%), cycling (18%) and running ( 10%). AND 27% took more time to cook fresh meals themselves. Thus, a quarter of people ate healthier and the same proportion also drinks less alcohol than before the coronavirus crisis. Results of these good attitudes: a fifth of those questioned have weight, 13% even more than 2 kilos.

Among them, mainly many young people (under 34). Even if, mentally, the crisis was particularly distressing for this age group (40% state that their mental health has deteriorated sharply), it is paradoxically they who have improved the most on the physical level. One-fifth of people say their physical condition has improved (compared to 14% on average); 29% did more sport (mainly running, 18%).

Although nearly a third of respondents have also lost weight, they nevertheless suffer from a lot of additional stress (69% against 57% on average) and loneliness (51% against 44% on average), which is also reflected physically by ailments such as more trouble sleeping (37%) and headaches (30%).

What are the long-term consequences?

The future is not as rosy as we would like to hope. Nearly 6 out of 10 Belgians believe that the effects of the coronavirus crisis on our health will still be felt for a long time. Fears? Not losing the pounds gained during the pandemic fast enough (22%), experiencing the accompanying depressive feelings (21%) and seeing the work / leisure rhythm disrupted (17%) for some time to come. “We will indeed feel the consequences for easily a year or more, also thinks Annelies Vanderlinden. You can compare this to a winter blues that we sometimes suffer from in other years as well, for a few months, but which has lasted for over a year now. And whose effects will also last longer“.

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