As winter closes in and the government encourages employees to continue working from home, six in 10 office workers admit they are struggling to separate work and home lives after ditching the commute. Many even attributing this to a decline in their overall health and wellbeing, according to a new survey from innovative life insurer Vitality.

Vitality is encouraging people to set aside 20 minutes before or after work for a ‘fake commute’ to do one activity to help them feel better mentally and physically this winter. Vitality is launching this alongside a new offering, their Winter Pack programme which is designed to offer members incentives and rewards to stay healthy in mind and in body at home through winter and beyond with free guides and tips available for everyone to access on Vitality’s social channels.

Many of us have been working from home for months, and the lack of a divide between work and home life is really taking a toll. With uncertainty around a return to traditional office working in 2021, it’s important to build in some structure to your day now to improve your wellbeing long-term.

Almost six in 10 office workers are struggling to separate their work and home life after ditching their commute, research from innovative health and life insurance and investment company Vitality has revealed.

A survey of 2,000 UK adults who have been forced to work from home this year found the average person is saving 60 minutes a day due to the lack of travel to and from work. However, the much-maligned commute acted as a buffer between work and home life, leaving 59 per cent struggling to switch off.

Some 42 per cent went as far as to say the lack of commute is having a negative effect on their physical health and wellbeing. As a result, 58 per cent are even missing certain aspects of their trip to and from work. Others miss the journey to and from work because it gave them time to drive in the car alone (25 per cent), take a break from friends, family and housemates (22 per cent), and exercise by walking and cycling to the station (19 per cent).

The study also found that while 29 per cent have replaced their commute with a walk, 69 per cent admitted they aren’t doing much with the extra time they now have. Almost four in 10 (37 per cent) admitted they simply spend more time in bed. And 40 per cent are now working longer hours, leaving 45 per cent feeling less happy at work due to increased stress.

As a result, the research, conducted by OnePoll for Vitality, found 67 per cent feel they need to improve their mental health and wellbeing this winter. Just under three quarters (72 per cent) also want to boost their physical health.

Home workout

When it comes to exercise, 36 per cent have been doing more since working from home, but 32 per cent admitted they are doing less than they used to. A third (33 per cent) said they need more motivation or the offer of incentives to make use of their commute time. Another 27 per cent felt they needed a plan to follow and 20 per cent could do with a fitness device to monitor their activity.

Alongside the ‘fake commute’, Vitality has launched a Winter Pack programme designed to offer its insurance members incentives and rewards to stay healthy in mind and in body at home through winter and beyond, such as access to home workouts on Peloton, fitness device discounts and a coffee at home benefit with free guides and tips available for everyone to access on Vitality’s social channels.

These tips from Claire O’Neill, Head of Clinician Management at Vitality, are designed to help you shape your fake commute at the beginning and end of each day to help you feel happier and healthier at home…

Meditate

Switch off for 20 minutes each morning or evening by doing a guided meditation with an app like Headspace – not only will this help you feel set up and ready for the day or able to unwind after work, it’ll help dispel any feelings of anxiety and stress that so many of us are feeling at the moment.

Coffee and chill

Are you missing that treat each working day? Go for a walk while it’s still light and pick yourself up a coffee or hot drink! Treat yourself – try a new route near your home and time it so it’s the same distance as your real commute.

Whip up a storm in the kitchen: cook a fancy breakfast – nutritionally, breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and can be key to helping you keep your energy and mood upbeat over winter. Also, why not try out your culinary skills by making a nice dinner with the time you have after work and replicate your favourite restaurant dish! Go all out and try something new – after all, you have more time and don’t have to grab a slice of toast before running out of the door or quickly put something in the microwave when you get home – make the most of it and try a new recipe today.

Dancing queen

Tai chi

It can be easy to lose motivation to exercise when gyms are closed and it’s dark outside, but this could be your chance to try something new that you’d never normally dream of taking up. Why not mix it up and do a dance class or try tai chi? You could find a whole new way of staying fit – and having fun.

Show your creative side

Why not try making your own Christmas cards for 20-30 minutes each morning or evening, or you could learn that language you always wanted to pick up for your next holiday! Having interests and a sense of achievement outside of work can help you de-stress and re-focus on something positive that you enjoy.

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