Published April 2021
As more Canadians work from home to help stop the spread of COVID-19, there has been an increase in working-from-home related injuries. The good news is most of these health concerns can be easily remedied with a few simple changes.
Muscle aches and pains
Since working from home, 41% of at-home workers report low back pain and 23% experience neck pain in a recent study. Most of our homes are designed for living, not working, so it’s not surprising that a home quickly converted to a workspace can be the cause of headaches and various aches and pains.1
Musculoskeletal pain can be caused by something as simple as the setup or height of your desk or a chair that doesn’t support you properly. Try to place your computer monitor at arm’s length, with your knees and hips at an angle of about 90 degrees.1
Here are some other things you can do to reduce or eliminate muscle pains:
- Take frequent breaks. Get up, stretch and walk around for 5 minutes every hour
- Avoid eating at your desk or workspace
- Get outside if you can for a 15-minute break twice a day during work hours
- Get regular exercise a minimum of 3 times a week
- Consider booking a massage appointment
Eye strain is on the rise among employees working remotely. It’s exacerbated by the multiple devices we use and the fact that even meetings are taking place online today via Zoom and other applications. Eye muscles contract when we read up close, and relax when we look away. Our eyes are forced to “jump” from computer monitor to cell phone, to tablet. This sustained screen time causes increased eye strain which can lead to headaches.2
To reduce or eliminate eye strain:
- Give your eyes a break from the screen. (BTW that doesn’t mean checking your text messages on your phone!)
- Adjust the angle of your computer monitor to roughly 15 to 20 degrees below eye level
- If you find your eyes are dry, over-the-counter medications can help alleviate that and make your eyes feel better
- If eye strain and headaches persist, make an appointment to have your eyes tested. You may need prescription eyewear. Supplemental health plans can help families cover the cost
With less socializing and human contact since the pandemic, there is increased isolation and a risk for new or heightened mental health issues. This holds true for both remote and on-site workers.
Add to that, financial uncertainty, health concerns and the added pressure of helping to homeschool young children, and you have the recipe for a surge in mental health issues.
Right on cue, anxiety and depression have stepped up to the fore, with Canadians experiencing one or the other at record levels. Anxiety in particular is reported to have quadrupled since the pandemic began in 2020, with over 20% of Canadians reporting high to extreme levels of anxiety.3 Symptoms may include:
- Increased heart rate and breathing
- Anger outbursts
- Trouble sleeping
- Feelings of doom
- Ruminating, or looping of negative thoughts4
The key to mental health issues is seeking treatment for them which is readily available and very effective.
Health & Dental Insurance plans from CAA can help cover the cost of expenses not covered by your government health plan, such as prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, registered mental health therapists and more, and could help you save hundreds of dollars a year.
1, 2 Verywell Health, 3 Surprising Health Risks of Working From Home, 2020
4 Consumer Reports, How to Ease Stress During the Coronavirus Pandemic, 2020