Working from home: Staying healthy and managing your energy

James Collins is a leading Sport and Exercise Nutritionist, whose practice is based in Harley Street, London. He is also a columnist for The Telegraph and a consultant for the BBC. James was one of the panellists at our Empowered Musician event in 2018 and shares his thoughts on staying healthy, productive and ‘on plan’ during this time of uncertainty.

1. Modify your goals

Whilst there will be challenges, working from home provides an excellent opportunity to exercise, eat well, and engage with your personal development and wellbeing goals, which can be lost in the daily grind.

2. Manage your environment

Set up your home environment for effective work and home life, including managing the expectations of significant others within it. Schedule your day just as you would in the office: workout, shower, virtual meetings, focused work, meals and regular breaks.

3. Chef skills

Extra time at home can be a great opportunity to build your recipe repertoire – build a small bank of favourites which are quick and easy to prepare (under 20 mins), with minimal ingredients.

4. Plan to plate

Plan your weekly shopping so you have the key ingredients each week to build your performance plates for each meal. Use a variety of foods within each meal to provide a range of macro- and micronutrients.

5. Flexible fuelling

Less active days when you’re stuck inside require less fuel (carbohydrates), than days where you’re very active, so adjust meals accordingly. An energy deficit can impair immune function, so now isn’t the time for dieting.

6. Use caffeine strategically

Caffeine can improve performance, but the response to it is highly individual. Use caffeine strategically 45-60 minutes before an important remote meeting. Reduce intake in the afternoon, if you are sensitive to its effect.

7. Daily exercise dose

Whether it’s aerobic, HIIT or yoga, make exercise fun and get creative if you can’t get to the gym. When working from home, often incidental activity (walking, climbing stairs) is lower, so breaks outside need to be built in where possible.

8. Recharge effectively

Aim for more than seven hours sleep per night to maintain cognitive and physical wellbeing. Consistent timings for going to sleep and waking will help. Pay attention to other ‘sleep hygiene’ principles to wind down before bed, as your home is your work space now.

9. Check in weekly

Protect a slot weekly to reflect on your progress from a nutrition and wellbeing perspective: how did the first week go? How do you feel (energy, sleep, mood)? Also, plan for the week ahead (shopping, meals and exercise) and refine your approach each week.

10. Share remotely

Link up with colleagues, friends and family online. Share your progress, a new workout or even a shared ‘recipe of the week’. It can be great for morale.

You can find more nutrition advice on James’ website or on Twitter @JamesCollinsPN. You can also view this shareable infographic.

Health benefits for ISM members

If you're an ISM member you have access to several different services to support your health and wellbeing. These include structured telephone counselling (including CBT), and access to physiotherapy, which can be delivered remotely as tailored treatment plans. You also can get a discount on remote GP service VDoc.